Go-to track compressor?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
cnt
KVRist
340 posts since 9 Mar, 2001

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am

BONES wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:50 pm
cnt wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:15 pm
Your genre/production sounds like crap audio-wise, to my ears. EBM overall sounds like shit, I just thought it was a "I dont care"/punk attitude.
Says the guy whose nickname is basically c**t! EBM is about energy, energy requires power and you don't get power without squashing the dynamics.
If you think my nickname is something that it isn't, well.. What does that has to do with anything on this topic? :hug:

If you really think loud means power? Ok. The wonderful power of Metallica's Death Magnetic. Use it as reference track? To my ears and mind: DYNAMICS is power. Check any powerful classical pieces for instance. Building up to something is not powerful for you? You need to squash everything? Your listeners don't have their own VOLUME knob or what?

If every instrument is playing all the time.... you get shitty music. Same with mixing. If you want REAL power you need dynamics. There can be no power if there is no quite parts or silence. Loud = just turn of the freaking volume up! Each to his own.
I will give you an example of an extremely good recording using no track compression.. :).. Also you need a good pair of speakers and a treated room to get the chills up your spine. Close your eyes... and it sounds like the guy is actually standing in front if you. Alive. Detailed.
Please, feel free. I probably won't like any of it, I can guarantee none of it will send chills up my spine, but you never know.
Muddy Waters - The Folk Singer album (1964). Check it on lossless playback. Turn up the volume in your studio and enjoy. Most other Muddy Waters albums sounds like crap though. This is an absolutely amazing recording. Though it might have compressors on it, (I would like to know who is the mixer and mastering people!). So much detail, subtelty and dynamics.. just wow. And this is from 1964 (!!!!).

cnt
KVRist
340 posts since 9 Mar, 2001

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:04 am

DJ Warmonger wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:57 am
Maybe cnt just can't use compressor properly and thinks all they do is to squash the sound terribly :?:
If you read again I am not the one not using compressors. :)
I do have compressors in all my songs, I just use them less than I used to, in my own productions. I rather go in and make manual changes instead of putting a compressor on a whole track. There are no rules of course, it's just that some people think that dynamics is a bad thing.. Esp. in the so called EDM world. This is just because they haven't experienced anything else really, or maybe the conservative crowd expects it to sound a certain way.

Another example of good mixing (and compression) in electronica: Yello's The Eye album.

mcbpete
KVRAF
1636 posts since 24 Jun, 2006 from London, England

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:28 am

lobanov wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:42 am
Elektronisch wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:44 am
U-He Presswerk
+1
+1 here as well. Been on the end of every channel for the past couple of years - even it's just slightly 'tickling the needle' it feels like it's giving everything a nice cohesive feel

Michey
KVRer
17 posts since 24 Sep, 2019

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:04 am

cnt wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am
To my ears and mind: DYNAMICS is power. Check any powerful classical pieces for instance.
...and therein lies your fundemental mistake [and - id say - 80% of people who's engaged in audio engineering]:
Dynamics [in audio] is the sprawling of levels within given piece of sound. it is NOT "volume modulation" because VM is the macro level. VM can't deal with changing levels WITHIN a given piece of audio [which, of course, compressors can do, too].

Sound can be powerful AND dynamic. read Sound on Sound magazine article about it [Ill give you a hint: it has to do with the way we perceive certain parts of the audio spectrum].

When so many people dont understand what compression does [because it can take literally YEARS to be able to discern uncompressed/compressed audio] they tend to THINK compressed is "loud and powerful". Well, its not. At least not all the time. and if you read about top engineers, some of them [most ?] use compression very sparingly. Why ? Because compression is time dependant and as such, can have a deep impact on the way we percieve a certain sound. And also because they are experienced, they know how to manipulate other tools in order to control dynamics [ie. Control the audibility of all the parts within a given piece of audio].

cnt
KVRist
340 posts since 9 Mar, 2001

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:01 pm

Michey wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:04 am
cnt wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am
To my ears and mind: DYNAMICS is power. Check any powerful classical pieces for instance.
...and therein lies your fundemental mistake [and - id say - 80% of people who's engaged in audio engineering]:
Dynamics [in audio] is the sprawling of levels within given piece of sound. it is NOT "volume modulation" because VM is the macro level. VM can't deal with changing levels WITHIN a given piece of audio [which, of course, compressors can do, too].

Sound can be powerful AND dynamic. read Sound on Sound magazine article about it [Ill give you a hint: it has to do with the way we perceive certain parts of the audio spectrum].

When so many people dont understand what compression does [because it can take literally YEARS to be able to discern uncompressed/compressed audio] they tend to THINK compressed is "loud and powerful". Well, its not. At least not all the time. and if you read about top engineers, some of them [most ?] use compression very sparingly. Why ? Because compression is time dependant and as such, can have a deep impact on the way we percieve a certain sound. And also because they are experienced, they know how to manipulate other tools in order to control dynamics [ie. Control the audibility of all the parts within a given piece of audio].
Yea, what you wrote here is basically exactly what I said and meant. :)
It was other ppl in this thread who thinks that "compression is a must because = loud = powerful".

Volume change was just an example from my side to fix something "at macro" stage. At a micro level I suggested envelope/transient shapers as another way to shape the sound (it's still just volume change, not necessarily at micro level though, depends on how you define micro/macro) to the way you want it instead of "it needs compression to sound snappier, better or whatever" and then alot of dynamics probably goes byebye.
I always listen to sounds in nature and in everyday life.
Compression/Volume automation can be used to mimik our eardrums. Which is commonly used in sound design in movies to get explosions sound/feel bigger than they are etc. This is a very creative way to use a compressor. A lot of people use compressors like a "dynamics removal"-tool to fit more sound, let a master limiter work harder without too much artifacts and so on. I'm just rambling now..., I am waiting for Cubase to scan my plugins again.

AudioAlien
KVRist
78 posts since 22 Apr, 2019

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:39 pm

I have yet to find one compressor for all musical styles and productions.
Different compressors for different jobs, especially tracks VS buss.

User avatar
BONES
GRRRRRRR!
9288 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:46 pm

cnt wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am
The wonderful power of Metallica's Death Magnetic. Use it as reference track? To my ears and mind: DYNAMICS is power.
Where are the dynamics? The guitars have the bejesus compressed out of them by the amps. That's the whole metal sound - a wall of guitar created by compression through the amp. You are making my point for me.
Check any powerful classical pieces for instance. Building up to something is not powerful for you?
That's fine if you have a full symphony orchestra, with each section containing the right number of instruments to make for a balanced final mix. They couldn't compress the violins to make them louder so they had to add more violins to be heard over a single French horn. It's a different approach towards achieving the same end - a balanced mix with lots of power. But today I don't need to add 100+ instruments to a piece to get a similar result, I can use modern studio techniques, like compression, to get there instead.
If every instrument is playing all the time.... you get shitty music. Same with mixing. If you want REAL power you need dynamics.
No you don't. In the context of an album you can have at least as much variety as you'd get in an orchestral programme. You don't have to do everything you know how to do in each piece. The juxtaposition of a full-on song at 150bpm against a softer, darker piece at 90bpm can be used to create dynamics - tension and release - within an album. It's what makes albums so great.
There can be no power if there is no quite parts or silence.
So you haven't heard of "The Drop", then? That is precisely what it's about.
Muddy Waters - The Folk Singer album (1964). Check it on lossless playback. Turn up the volume in your studio and enjoy. Most other Muddy Waters albums sounds like crap though. This is an absolutely amazing recording.
Sorry but that is just awful and the dynamics don't make it any better than if it had the shit squeezed out of it. I'd also be very surprised if there wasn't lot of compression on the vocals, there is no way his delivery could be that consistent over a song like Same Thing, for example. But the music is just awful.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), UR44C, Cubase, DUNE, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Hive, Substance, Arcsyn, Aparillo, Phase Plant, Pigments, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft 2.

User avatar
DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
3563 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:37 am

it's just that some people think that dynamics is a bad thing
I don't think someone said that explicitly and seriously.

Also, there's microdynamics and macrodynamics. Using compression has nothing to do with 2-minute breakdown at low volume level. That's more of an arrangement decision.
http://djwarmonger.wordpress.com/
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

simon.a.billington
KVRAF
1794 posts since 12 Nov, 2014

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:36 am

I tend not to have “gotos” myself as I think it limits your creativity if you keep doing the same thing the same way. Although, for my secondary tracks and background elements I like to use CPU light processing since these things are barely noticeable in the greater scheme of things. I’d rather reserve the extra DSP power for things that matter and are more noticeable.

So given that I’ll often use Logic’s Compressor or H-Comp as they are both light and give you a few different choices in terms of emulation.

cnt
KVRist
340 posts since 9 Mar, 2001

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:38 am

BONES wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:46 pm
cnt wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am
The wonderful power of Metallica's Death Magnetic. Use it as reference track? To my ears and mind: DYNAMICS is power.
Where are the dynamics? The guitars have the bejesus compressed out of them by the amps. That's the whole metal sound - a wall of guitar created by compression through the amp. You are making my point for me.
Check any powerful classical pieces for instance. Building up to something is not powerful for you?
That's fine if you have a full symphony orchestra, with each section containing the right number of instruments to make for a balanced final mix. They couldn't compress the violins to make them louder so they had to add more violins to be heard over a single French horn. It's a different approach towards achieving the same end - a balanced mix with lots of power. But today I don't need to add 100+ instruments to a piece to get a similar result, I can use modern studio techniques, like compression, to get there instead.
If every instrument is playing all the time.... you get shitty music. Same with mixing. If you want REAL power you need dynamics.
No you don't. In the context of an album you can have at least as much variety as you'd get in an orchestral programme. You don't have to do everything you know how to do in each piece. The juxtaposition of a full-on song at 150bpm against a softer, darker piece at 90bpm can be used to create dynamics - tension and release - within an album. It's what makes albums so great.
There can be no power if there is no quite parts or silence.
So you haven't heard of "The Drop", then? That is precisely what it's about.
Muddy Waters - The Folk Singer album (1964). Check it on lossless playback. Turn up the volume in your studio and enjoy. Most other Muddy Waters albums sounds like crap though. This is an absolutely amazing recording.
Sorry but that is just awful and the dynamics don't make it any better than if it had the shit squeezed out of it. I'd also be very surprised if there wasn't lot of compression on the vocals, there is no way his delivery could be that consistent over a song like Same Thing, for example. But the music is just awful.
Haha...this is hilarious to me. :)
If you cant appriciate this incredible recording on an objective mixing/production level, there is nothing I can do to make you understand I guess. Are you serious or just want to win an argument? Btw, ask ANY top engineer what they think of this recording. I'm not trying to win an argument, its just that I never met anyone doing professional audio that cant appriciate that recording. Can you enjoy Einsturzende Neubautens albums from a mixing perspective? Some of their records are also really good. Rammstein has also made some albums (not all) that are also great recordings even though the music kind of sucks. They all use compressors of course, but still sounds great... and alive.

Worst example of a record I can think of: Alice Cooper - Poison. That track is totally dead.. sounds AWFUL. Overcompressed as f*ck.

Keep on enjoying what you do, each to his own...:)

monomaker
KVRist
111 posts since 11 Mar, 2015

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:37 am

cnt wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:44 am
Muddy Waters - The Folk Singer album (1964). Check it on lossless playback. Turn up the volume in your studio and enjoy. Most other Muddy Waters albums sounds like crap though. This is an absolutely amazing recording. Though it might have compressors on it, (I would like to know who is the mixer and mastering people!). So much detail, subtelty and dynamics.. just wow. And this is from 1964 (!!!!).
AFAIR this was recorded at Chess Records, Chicago, (sometimes called "Ter-Mar Studio") with the standard line up, so the engineer would have been Ron Malo and either Ralph Bass or the Chess brothers on production. Mastering would have been done in house by the same people, although it wasn't considered a particularly important process at the time (they called them transfers, and were considered a task for the junior engineer). The room has a very high ceiling, the verb could well be natural, although in the basement there is a long room that use to be two rooms that were used as reverb chambers, with speakers and mics run down from the studio above.

Bill Putnam had made some basic dynamics units that were employed there sometime around when Folk Singer was recorded. He also built a custom console for the studio, so the recording chain would probably have been a dynamic mic into a 610 styled pre on the console, through something like a 176 and on to tape.

The studio is open to the public to this day (hardly any original equipment remains I'm afraid, asides the VCS3 that was used on later stuff like the Ramsey Lewis album Mother Nature's son), I highly recommend a visit if you get the chance. I learned a lot of this stuff by carefully studying the building and the notes there, they've collected a bunch of documents from over the years and that's how I learnt about Putnam's involvement.

Anyone know what that vocal mic is? Looks like it could be a Turner but I'm not sure.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&sourc ... 1314880330

EDIT : AHA! https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pUgj4x6rZ38/ ... _57-22.JPG

:)

JCJR
KVRAF
2896 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:01 am

Apologies this question, not trying to grind axes just curious-- Though sometimes I use compression as a "pumping breathing monster" intentional sound effect, generally my "ideal compressor" or "ideal limiter" would work so good that ideally you can't even hear it working, except that too-extreme dynamics have now become manageable.

A process with negligible distortion or coloration.

Do many people desire "as unobtrusive possible" compression? Or more frequently want a signature dynamics mangling fingerprint added to tracks purely for aesthetic porpoises? Just because it sounds hip?

There is no approved answer. Just curious.

I don't know where my esteem for "compression so transparent that you can't hear it working" came from. Sometime long ago when I was hardware hacking homebrew analog comps, because those famous classic comps sounded too easy to hear working, to my ear at the time. Trying to make something more transparent, which was a fun hobby for awhile anyway.

This may have been a common aesthetic at the time? Think I recall ad campaigns in praise of compressors so transparent that you can't hear them working

Somewhat an unrealizable ideal, like tasty low fat low salt fried bacon, or the ideal spouse. :)

codec_spurt
KVRAF
3982 posts since 21 Sep, 2005

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:30 pm

JCJR wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:01 am
Apologies this question, not trying to grind axes just curious-- Though sometimes I use compression as a "pumping breathing monster" intentional sound effect, generally my "ideal compressor" or "ideal limiter" would work so good that ideally you can't even hear it working, except that too-extreme dynamics have now become manageable.

A process with negligible distortion or coloration.

Do many people desire "as unobtrusive possible" compression? Or more frequently want a signature dynamics mangling fingerprint added to tracks purely for aesthetic porpoises? Just because it sounds hip?

There is no approved answer. Just curious.

I don't know where my esteem for "compression so transparent that you can't hear it working" came from. Sometime long ago when I was hardware hacking homebrew analog comps, because those famous classic comps sounded too easy to hear working, to my ear at the time. Trying to make something more transparent, which was a fun hobby for awhile anyway.

This may have been a common aesthetic at the time? Think I recall ad campaigns in praise of compressors so transparent that you can't hear them working

Somewhat an unrealizable ideal, like tasty low fat low salt fried bacon, or the ideal spouse. :)

In the beginning...

Some bods were in a studio. No one had heard of the term 'compressor'. No one had need of what a 'compressor' does.

Then...

(please allow some artistic license here)

Ever since my BABY left me, I FOUND a new place to DWELL

And the need for the first 'compressor' was born.

The tape got ruined. It's one thing a bit of the old saturation but this was setting the needle in to the RED. The performance was perfect otherwise, but just unusable. They had to go back and do it ALL AGAIN!

Actually, I'm just making this all up. You can keep reading or go and read something else if you like.

Actually, actually, the need for 'compressors' probably pre-dates this little fictional scenario of mine. Ohh, maybe say when they first started making vinyl records for mass distribution. But I don't know about that either. And I really did just make it up, again.

Anyway, back to the fictional account -

Super-Duper Producah really loves the way the singer sings his 'Ever since my baby left me' bit, but there is only so many times you can record or re-record a part on Iron Oxide before even the old magnetic particles themselves get fed up with the game and just decide to retire, probably ungracefully.

But do not fear! Captain 'Compression' is here!

Some bod figures out how you can take an electronic signal and balance it out so there isn't so many disruptive spikes, overloading the current technology of the day and just wasting everyone's time.

There was a real need for this tech. Whether it came about at this point or came about earlier, it came about out of necessity, which as we all know, is the Mother of Invention. Frank said so, so it must be true!

I don't know who invented the first ever 'Compressor'. I don't even know when the very first 'need' for it was. Would be interesting to know...

Anyway, said bod comes back with a 'black box'. All the other bods have been tearing their hair out. What is this 'black box' technology? How can it work? How can we ever take a signal and even it out so our converters and whatnot don't overload?

So desperate are they, they end up patching the box in.

"IT LIVES!"

"IT WORKS!"

They cry. Kind of. It's not perfect, but yeah, it definitely tames the wild signals just enough to not need to do another re-take.

And the 'Compressor' is born.

Is it 'transparent'?

Probably not.

Not by today's metrics.

Was it 'good enough' back then to provide a solution that no one else could provide?

Sure.

And ever since, a whole new world was created which has been ameliorated and expounded upon. Leading up to just about where we are today.

Compressors, Limiters, Expanders.

Each finding their own particular niche at whatever time. Via broadcast technology for stopping Transformers burning out, or people living too close to Transmitters so they didn't get too much 'Sunburn' from the electromagnetic radiation (Limiters). Or...

Coming up to the modern day when that great classic was installed in SSL Desks (both on the channel and on the bus), just because they could, just about, and to sell it to just enough people, who could afford that kind of extravagant technology, just about.

And a thousand hits were born. And no one got burned alive in the process.

[I knew some guys in North London who some 'enterprising types' had installed a pirate radio transmitter on their roof - a few feet from their heads on the top floor - and they were seriously burned and sun tanned from the experience]

Expanders came about again when someone else had a 'dynamics' problem and asked 'what if?'. They just reversed the equation. And the Drawmer was born! They served a purpose. Did a job.

They made those that had access to this secret 'black box' technology seem like wizards. Of course it was a closed shop. But of course, they still were wizards, figuring out this kind of stuff and making it work and translate in to cold hard cash via international no.1 hits.


And here we are. At the 'end of history'.

Well, not quite.

Though sometimes I use compression as a "pumping breathing monster" intentional sound effect, generally my "ideal compressor" or "ideal limiter" would work so good that ideally you can't even hear it working, except that too-extreme dynamics have now become manageable.


People in the beginning did not use compression to Pump.

They used it to level, as absolutely transparent as possible. But it still Pumped. Pumping - BAD!

So they refined it so it didn't Pump. Just leveled. And they did end up doing a good job of getting that right. Fairchild Compressors caught transients within fractions of a second -

All positions offer extremely fast attack values, between 0.2 and 0.8 milliseconds. This was considered to be lightning fast at the time, and the figures weren’t beaten until a decade later, when solid-state units with FET gain cells (like the Universal Audio 1176LN) brought attack values down to a mere 20 microseconds. Given its primary purpose as a protective device in broadcast or vinyl cutting environments, in which the limiter was required to catch any unwanted signal peaks reliably, these fast attack times were one of the Fairchild’s most important features.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/fairchild-660-670

https://www.historyofrecording.com/Fairchild_660.html

And so, that is why the unit is used as much as a 'Limiter' as a 'Compressor'. Never mind that some people just turn everything off on these units and just run David Bowie's or Freddy Mercury's vocals through it just to give it a bit of 'mojo'. Transformers or something. I don't know. I can't even wire a plug.

But...

my "ideal compressor" or "ideal limiter" would work so good that ideally you can't even hear it working

That was the ideal!

And it has been achieved. Probably even more in software than it was in hardware (unless you have the cash to splash).

This has been talked about to death. One more time:

Transparent Compressors:

1: https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-kotelnikov-ge/

2: Toneboosters bus comp and also track comp

3: Voxengo bus and track comps

I'll just stop there. Many more examples. These are as good as it gets.

They are to all intents and purposes, invisible. Pretty much. Just about. As much as you are ever going to get when messing with dynamics.


So these are your 'tools'. When one needs a bit of audio 'surgery' - these are your boys.


But that's not enough for some people.

Along the way, through the various design manifestations of these 'units', some people found that they liked the way they 'pumped' and 'sucked' the audio signal. Nowt wrong with that.

And so the concept of 'Character Compressors' was born.

Usually units that couldn't quite keep up, scientifically, but there you go.

Let's not get in to the various stages of Opto, VCA, Valve, FET...

https://www.hornetplugins.com/differenc ... -and-opto/

Imperfect technology ended up giving a vibe and creating the sound of the "60's", and the "70's".

When the first digital reverb was introduced late 70's (iirc) it was all over every top budget recording making a serious horse's arse of their mixes. Listen to Black Sabbath 'Sabotage' - 1975 - drenched in digital reverb and all the more greater for it! (though many disagree)

But let's not go too far off the beaten path here (too late!).

Character Compressors came in to play when they couldn't quite perfect the science, and people still love those units today, and all the more so for their perceived imperfections.


Really.

If you want invisible 'wave-shaping' then reach for your TDR or Toneboosters compressors.

If you want a bit of pump and suck then reach for your SKnote or Stillwell compressors modeling old units that "didn't quite get it right" - that will give some 'character' to your tracks.
"One never loves enough" - R.D. Laing.

reggie1979
KVRAF
1895 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:13 pm

TL/DR on much of this. TMI. :lol:

JCJR
KVRAF
2896 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:42 pm

Thanks codec_spurt. I:m fairly out of touch and that is kinda what I was getting at-- Tis not insurmountably difficult to make a clean transparent dsp compressor, so was curious if maybe the average modern musician doesn't want them anymore now that they are pretty easy to come by? How could I find out without asking? My psychic powers don't work so good. :)


Dunno so far as the earliest compressor. The crudest compressor design I saw in an old hardbound "encyclopedia of electronic circuits" book. In some ways (possibly laziness, possibly copyright avoidance) this book was similar to old bootleg musicians realbooks.

Some schematics had parts values and some did not. Some circuits were labeled by designer or company and some were not.

One circuit drawn in an 'early style' consisted of a tube amp driving an incandescent light bulb. The slow light bulb controlled the gain of an old opto vacuum tube perhaps the type used in early talky film projectors.

The only identification was "compressor circuit". Maybe this was the product of some genius from the dawn of radio and talkies? Or maybe it was only the brainchild of "The Stupidest Electrical Engineer of 1955"? :)

Return to “Effects”