how to use a compressor

How To Use A Compressor In Mix For Improving Dynamic Range

How to use a compressor: –Compression is the key point factor while mixing and mastering a song. but most of the time question arise in mind that why we need to use the audio compressor in our mix? and the answer is simple to maintain and improve the dynamic range. we can use the compressors such as an audio compressor, vocal compressor, instrument compressor etc. many times beginners are confused that how to use a compressor while mixing and mastering a song. so here we will discuss all the related question to how to use a compressor and find a solution on it.
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Important Note: – Whatever we talk about compressor use in this article is in reference to fruity loops D.A.W but the concept is same and can apply same to others D.A.W plugins too.

Types Of Compressor:-

  1. Single Band Compressor.
  2. Multiband Compressor.

But, today we will discuss only single band so that you first understand basic fundaments of its then we will move to the multiband compressor in next article.

Compressor Interface:-

fruity compressor

Above snap shows the fruity compressor vst plugins available in FL studio 11.04 (not necessary that you must have the same plugin for your D.A.W, may be your D.A.W has different compressor plugin, function of all compressor plugin is same only their front end is different so try to understand the concept behind it and how to use it.) actually, the compressor makes the loudest and quietest part of the signal to an average level where it is audible for test on various above image, we can see that compressor has 6 different knobs on it and now we will discuss it.

Knobs on Compressor: –

  1. Threshold: -by adjusting this knob, this is where we get to know that how loud mix goes before it hits compression. this is important because we don’t want all signal compressed. so adjust this threshold level as per your input signal level.
  2. Ratio: -This will determine how much signal to be compressed after it passes threshold signal. Ratios are count in decibels(dB). Generally 2:1 to 4:1 ratios are considered as light or moderate, and 10:1 ratio considered as heavy compression or limiter. For Ex in 4:1 ratio when the signal goes above 4 dB threshold level, the output signal will go only 1 dB.
  3. Gain: -when your overall signal is compressed it will reduce the volume of your signal. so to maintain the fidelity this knob plays an important role.
  4. Attack: -this will come into effect to show that how quickly compression reacts to signal. to get started 10ms is the ideal value but not necessary you must play with this to find perfect punchiness of the sound.
  5. Release: -this will come into effect to show that how long it will take to stop compression. to get started 200ms is ideal but again not necessary.
  6. Type: – This is one of the important knobs on the compressor that tell us how a compressor works on a signal such as hard, soft etc. select it as per the requirement.

Compressor Settings (starting points)By Bill Simpkins – Producer/Mixer/Engineer: –

  • * Vocals: ratio = 3:1. attack=medium. release = medium fast.
  • * Bass: ratio = 1.5:1. attack = medium slow. release = medium fast
  • * Kick: ratio = 2:1. attack = medium slow. release = medium fast
  • * Snare: ratio = 2:1. attack = slow. release = fast.
  • * overheads: ratio = 10:1. attack = fast. release = medium fast
  • * heavy guitar = none.
  • * acoustic guitar = ratio: 2:1. attack = medium fast, release = medium fast
  • * background strings: ratio = 6:1. attack = fast. release = slow

Note:- Above Settings are just some starting point you can start tweeking from that.lastly it depends upon the generes you working and many factors.

Compressor Diagrammatic Representation:-


compressor graph
Compressor Graph


compress signal
Compression on Signal Waveform

Before Use Of Compressor Be Sure Of This:-

1-Must Have Good Headphones or Monitors.

1-LISTEN!! Open up your ears and listen precisely to every one of the subtleties of the sound.

2-Ensure you’re Listening at a comfortable level; not too loud and not too soft. Make You Laptop or PC Volume level in between 50-75 %.

Now, hope you understand about how to use a compressor in your mix for maintaining the dynamic range. there are lots of best compressor plugin available online, such as waves compressor etc. today we just talk about the single band compressor. but in a next article, we will talk about how to use multiband compression. Till then keep practising and make good music.

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