How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

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xandde1
KVRist
86 posts since 12 Nov, 2018

Post Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:54 pm

Hi everyone! =)

I’ve been mixing for a while, but I’m not a pro. I keep going “back to basics” to improve my work and now I’m reviewing compression.

Everybody says that compression is meant to work mainly as an automatic volume controller. In order to grab peaks and even the level of an audio track, a fast attack would be the logical setting.

However, I’ve never seen a pro mixing engineer using a fast attack setting for peak controlling. By fast I mean really fast.

How often do you find yourself using a compressor to even out the level of a signal and how do you set it up? Do you set the attack fast?

Sorry if it’s a silly question, but I’m not being able to figure it out by myself.

Thanks!!

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Distorted Horizon
KVRAF
2602 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:23 pm

Dynamics controller, not volume 8)

In psytrance, there's often wild peaks. I tend to crush them with lookahead limiter. Lookahead compressor is fine too, with attack set to fast and release to taste but limiter has less knobs :hihi:

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DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
3201 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:42 am

Preemphasis + saturator does the trick - it works on any material, no matter how fast attack time. You can't achieve same effect with any limiter. In fact the sharp, high-freq spikes often occur at the very start of a sample. Cut them and then it sounds smooth.
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imrae
KVRian
759 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:11 am

1176-style compressors have very fast attack and the knobs work backwards; so if you've seen anyone use CLA-76 with the attack knob turned clockwise, you've seen them crush the peaks with a compressor.

But often it's good to leave the peaks alone and use a slower compressor. Peaks sound good... until they cause pumping.

sleepcircle
KVRian
693 posts since 28 Nov, 2016

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:38 am

if you're going to use a compressor to shave off peaks, make sure you don't use that same compressor to ALSO deal with the body of the sound, or you'll get pumping noises or really uneven reactions. it's a good idea to do two different stages of compression: one for the main groove and flow of the sound, and one with a very high threshold and high ratio that does almost nothing except shave off the spikes (or a limiter). you can put these two in either order, but the order you put them in will change the nature of the compression slightly.

xandde1
KVRist
86 posts since 12 Nov, 2018

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:51 pm

Thanks for you help, guys! Plenty of nice tips here! :)
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:42 am
Preemphasis + saturator does the trick - it works on any material, no matter how fast attack time. You can't achieve same effect with any limiter. In fact the sharp, high-freq spikes often occur at the very start of a sample. Cut them and then it sounds smooth.
DJ Warmonger, that’s really interesting! Do you know where I can find more info about that technique?

simon.a.billington
KVRAF
1684 posts since 12 Nov, 2014

Re: How often do you use fast attack for leveling peaks?

Post Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:03 am

My approach depends on th context. Quite often I’d like to use a low ratio (<1.5:1) along with a low threshold and a pretty fast attack to more transparently “squeeze” the dynamics into something more consistent. Soft knees work better in this context too. I’d use this in conjunction with something with a higher threshold and higher ratio, maybe 3 or 4:1.

How if I want that click type of sound, like what you would get from metal kick drums you’ll want higher ratios, almost to the point of limiting.

I’ll use a combination of compressors and will try just about anything. It will either work or it won’t. I find if we don’t continually explore and try out new things we’ll become quite stale in our approach. Tried and tested, for me, is usually a fall back, when I can’t get something else to work. The CLA-76 is one of those tried and tested fallbacks as is the dbx or the API 2500. The 2500 gives you the most control between these 3 choices and Ian quite flexible und usable under a number of circumstances. The mpressor is also good here, but it’s a hard knee, so no softer option like with the API.

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