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440 Forums _ Effects and Treatments _ Compressor

Posted by: neesley Mon 21 Nov 2005, 10:29

I never seem to get the level I would like out of my mixing. Can anybody suggest a good compressor/limiter that can help slam my tracks?


Posted by: rickenbacker Tue 22 Nov 2005, 13:36

Hardware or software? If software, what host sequencer? PSP Audioware do some nice plugs. Logic's Multipressor is alright, too. Personally, I find the Universal Audio UAD-1 plugs hard to beat (LA-2A, 1176, Fairchild, Precision Limiter, forthcoming Multiband Limiter, yum!). Other folk like the TC PowerCore plugs. There are hundreds of compressors out there, but these are the ones that spring to mind for me.

Posted by: neesley Tue 22 Nov 2005, 18:13

I'm using ProTools 6.9.2 with a DIGI002R. The compressors I've been using are the C4 on vocal (and other) tracks and the L2 on my stereo bounces before I dither down.

I've heard about the old LA-2A hardware-wise, but I don't know much about it.

It just feels that no matter what I'm mixing, I can't get enough level. It could be an inherent mix problem, but I wouldn't know...

Posted by: loudstring Tue 22 Nov 2005, 18:19

Try using waves L2/L3 ultamaximizer it can be very heavy but also kinda transparent. It really depens on the style you are looking for.

Posted by: beyaRecords Wed 23 Nov 2005, 08:51

USR ( are due to release the AU/VST versions of their 1970/1980 compressors. Based on the exceptional quality of thier EQs I would suggest that you wait the few more weeks before they are released and buy those.

Others formats (RTAS, TDM) are already available and can be Demo'd before purchase is made.


Posted by: rickenbacker Wed 23 Nov 2005, 11:08

Compressors are tricky things to get right - too little and nothing happens, too much and you squash the life out of a track. The Universal Audio stuff really is terrific - they made the original hardware, so the software is as accurate as anyone is ever going to make it. Bomb Factory did some Pro Tools plug-ins along the same lines (I think they did an 1176, for instance), so you might like to check them out. I didn't know much about the history of the LA-2A and the 1176 before I got my UAD-1 card, but since then I seem to read about them all the time. They're still used in virtually every major studio. Now they're reissuing hardware versions and selling like hot cakes.

I digress. I suggest reading absoutely everything you can about using compressors. It worked for me and I kind of understand them now and how best to use them. The articles on the Sound On Sound web site are a good place to start.

Posted by: gkdoty Wed 23 Nov 2005, 21:36

Have you tried the
Free Digidesign Dynamics III DigiRack Plug-in Suite :
Dynamics III Features at a Glance

* Three dynamics processing plug-ins: Compressor/Limiter, Expander/Gate, and De-Esser
* Multi-channel support*
* Optimized for maximum CPU and DSP efficiency
* Tight integration with control surfaces and VENUE live sound environment
* Support for Avid software
* High-resolution processing, up to 192 kHz
* External key and side-chain frequency filter capabilities
* De-zippered, automatable controls for smooth parameter changes
* RTAS, TDM, and AudioSuite formats
* Windows XP and Mac OS X support

Posted by: abcdaniel Wed 23 Nov 2005, 22:50

The 1176 is a free download at digidesign, except they call it BF76.

It is kind of cool, but with a special character that isnīt fit for everything.

A compressor worth checking out is PSP Vintage Warmer. It features a pretty dense coloration of the sound, which I guess is the point of it, but it is very musical in what it does to the compressed material. I like it a lot. It also has very nice bass and treble controls, sort of like a vintage console channel strip.

Posted by: neesley Wed 23 Nov 2005, 22:53

Everything I've read so far has been great! Thanks guys.

However, I've tried almost all the suggestions. Especially on the software end of things. I still haven't gotten what I want out of my mixes. The software compressors don't seem to go far enough to get enough level and punch.

Maybe the manner in which I'm using them is incorrect. I usually set a pretty quick attack and compress things like horns at something around 10:1. Same with many of the drums. Fast attacks is what I thought would retain the punch while leaving room for other sounds in the mix.

Any other thoughts?

Also, on my bounced down mixes before I dither down, I already use the L3... What are some good settings for that?

Posted by: abcdaniel Thu 24 Nov 2005, 10:14

Hmm, if you use that kind of ratio you should get good levels; I mean, there probably wouldn't be many peaks there... wink.gif Lower the threshhold to squash more of the material, maybe, if that 10:1 ratio doesn't give you the desired level.

Maybe you should experiment some with the attack. Too fast attack will take the edge out of percussive sounds, since the *bam* in any drum will not stand out so much from the tone of the drum anymore, nor will it stand out in the mix.

I must say that hardware compressors seem quite a bit sharper. Having been mixing exclusive in a plug-in environment for a couple of years, i went to a friend of mine who had some 90s DBX compressor, and I couldn't believe my ears! It was so mean to my vocals, nowhere near what any plug-in could do.

Posted by: beyaRecords Thu 24 Nov 2005, 10:25

Try 'parallel compression' which allow you to add more oomph without killing your track.

Take one channel, say a kick drum, and use an insert send from that channel and feed it to a compressor. Then take the output of the compressor and bring it back on a completely different channel and viola! parallel compression.

Set your compressor using the following ratios:

Threshold: -50db to -60db
Ratio: 2.0:1 to 2.5:1
Attack: 1ms (take the smallest value possible!)
Release: 250ms
Makeup: 0dB

and then mix it back to the other 'clean' channel from -20dB to +10dB.


Posted by: abcdaniel Thu 24 Nov 2005, 12:16

Correction: It wasn't "some 90s DBX compressor" i was using, it was a DBX 160 of some flavor. More 70s-80s-stylee. It is a really great piece of hardware nonetheless!

With parallell compression you have to be aware that you could get unwanted peaks from the original uncompressed source, so maybe the slightest bit of peak limiting on the original track is a good idea. Agree on that, Beya? Haven't done it much myself...

Posted by: neesley Fri 25 Nov 2005, 13:22

abcdaniel: Thanks for the tip on the attack. Come to think of it, my rock snares have tended to get lost. I bet it's because I have the attack set too short.

Any other compressing techniques anybody want to share?

I've been using the C4 a lot on vocals to bring out the high end punch of the consonants without taking over that specific frequency range.

Posted by: beyaRecords Fri 25 Nov 2005, 13:53

QUOTE (abcdaniel @ Nov 24 2005, 12:16)
so maybe the slightest bit of peak limiting on the original track is a good idea. Agree on that, Beya? Haven't done it much myself...

Well the whole idea behind parallel or upward compression is to preserve transients, but failing the fact that a slight reduction in db for the channel doesn't have the desired effect, then yes introduce slight limiting.


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