Compression on acoustic mixes lessen "height"?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
KVRist
334 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:01 pm

sambaji wrote:
Sat Mar 27, 2021 1:27 pm
I have tried several compressors on the mix bus at various settings (e.g., ratio 2:1 or less, -1 to -3 dB gain reduction, 10ms or greater for the attack to preserve transients) and my general conclusion is that my mix of acoustic instruments sounds more open, particularly in highs without a compressor. Out of the few I tried, TDR Kateinikov sounds the most transparent but still squishes the highs a bit, at least to my ears. In other words, the openness of the track becomes "compressed", losses some of its "height" in the act of adding that so-called "magic" gluing effect of compression on the mix bus.

I am curious if others have experienced the same and generally avoid compressors on the mix bus for acoustic mixes (e.g., Jazz, folk) or have suggestions on a particular compressor or settings for acoustic music. Perhaps, I should stick with saturation plugins to tame the peak levels. They tend to sound better to me than compressors for acoustic music, although not as effective for controlling dynamics. For that, I could rely more on manual volume automation of individual tracks. Thanks
Obviously, you will lose some of the natural dynamic range of your material if you use compression. Slight amounts of compression can still benefit your material though, to make it sound more cohesive. The goal is to glue the elements together, without completely killing the natural dynamics.

If you work on very musical material with many different sections of different loudness, it can make senset to adapt the compressor's settings to the characteristis of each section (for example: relaxed intro with only a piano playing, very low amounts of compression, main part with piano, drums, bass and singer all at the same time: may require more compression to "gel" the various elements...). So if you use 2-Bus compression on the Master channel, adapt the treshold and the other parameters to the needs of the section within the song (you can write automation). Don't just use one compressor setting for the entire song in very musical compositions with many changes.

And also try the free Fircomp. That and Kotelnikov should cover your needs for clean compression.

KVRist
97 posts since 14 Apr, 2019

Post Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:51 am

I could think one compressor plug-in that is excellent with acoustic material ie Sonnox Dynamic. It has an excellent side chain option.
This one you can hardly tell whether the reduction is applied because the sound is still so dynamic even down to 4-6 db gain reduction depends on the material.
Or
Try the Tone Empire Red aka. their version of LA2A this one is very transparent and gentle
Check out some of my latest mixes and remixes:https://soundcloud.com/thinkmusic007

KVRist

Topic Starter

58 posts since 31 Jan, 2021

Post Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:40 pm

Skyfall72 wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:51 am
I could think one compressor plug-in that is excellent with acoustic material ie Sonnox Dynamic. It has an excellent side chain option.
This one you can hardly tell whether the reduction is applied because the sound is still so dynamic even down to 4-6 db gain reduction depends on the material.
Or
Try the Tone Empire Red aka. their version of LA2A this one is very transparent and gentle
Sonnox Dynamic is out of my price range. OptoRed, as you suggested, has a nice warmth to it.

KVRist
126 posts since 31 May, 2017

Post Tue Apr 20, 2021 4:40 pm

Parallell compression is good for maintaining some of that original openness.
Same with unlinked compression.

Try FirComp2, unlinked, and play around with wet % (no lookahead).

But reducing height is literally what compressors do, that is the entire point of a compressor. Height is a property of dynamic range.

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KVRian
1466 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Milan, Italy

Post Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:05 am

Acoustic instruments aren't compressed in real life, so compressing them will make them sound less natural.

It all depends on the mix really. If it's full acoustic Jazz, and it sounds bad to use compression, then don't use it. If it's getting some double tracked, hard panned, strummed acoustic guitars to sit well in a busy electronic pop mix, then compress those as hard as you like to get the sound you are after. Source and mix dependent, innit.

We do fairly stripped back Psych Folk stuff (see my sig) and I use my hardware compressors all over those acoustic guitars with great results, but more for spice/tone than levelling.

KVRAF
20689 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Post Thu Apr 22, 2021 8:10 am

Hermetech Mastering wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:05 am
We do fairly stripped back Psych Folk stuff (see my sig) and I use my hardware compressors all over those acoustic guitars with great results, but more for spice/tone than levelling.
I think using compressors for levelling typically isn't the greatest idea anyway... I'd call that most likely more of a beginner's mistake than anything

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