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Parker Robinson
Parker Robinson

Master Compression and Dynamics Processing with Ian Sutton


Ian Sutton The Complete Guide to Compression TUTORiAL




If you are interested in learning how to use compression effectively in your audio production, you might want to check out Ian Sutton's tutorial on this topic. In this article, we will give you a comprehensive overview of what this course is about, what you will learn from it, how you can enroll in it, and how you can get the most out of it. By the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of whether this course is right for you and how it can help you improve your compression skills.




Ian Sutton The Complete Guide to Compression TUTORiAL



What is compression and why is it important?




Compression is one of the most essential and versatile tools in audio engineering. It is a process that reduces the dynamic range of an audio signal, which means that it makes the loud parts quieter and the quiet parts louder. This can have many benefits for improving the sound quality, balance, clarity, consistency, punch, energy, and impact of your audio tracks.


Compression can be used for various purposes such as:



  • Controlling the peaks and transients of a signal that might otherwise clip or distort



  • Smoothing out the volume fluctuations of a signal that might otherwise be too inconsistent or uneven



  • Enhancing the sustain or decay of a signal that might otherwise be too short or long



  • Adding character or color to a signal that might otherwise be too dull or bland



  • Gluing together multiple signals that might otherwise sound too separate or disjointed



  • Creating contrast or movement between different parts of a signal that might otherwise sound too static or flat



Compression can be applied to any type of audio source, such as vocals, drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, synths, strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and more. It can also be applied to individual tracks, groups of tracks, or the entire mix. However, compression is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires a lot of skill and experience to use it properly and achieve the desired results. If used incorrectly, compression can also have negative effects such as reducing the dynamic range too much, making the sound too loud or quiet, losing the natural feel or expression of the performance, introducing unwanted artifacts or noise, or ruining the musical balance or coherence of the mix.


The basic parameters of a compressor




A compressor is a device or a plugin that performs compression. It has several parameters that allow you to adjust how it works and affects the audio signal. The most common parameters are:



  • Threshold: This is the level at which the compressor starts to reduce the gain of the signal. Any signal that is above the threshold will be compressed, and any signal that is below the threshold will be unaffected. The lower the threshold, the more compression will be applied.



  • Ratio: This is the amount of gain reduction that the compressor applies to the signal that exceeds the threshold. It is expressed as a ratio of input to output, such as 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, etc. For example, a ratio of 4:1 means that for every 4 dB of input above the threshold, the output will be 1 dB. The higher the ratio, the more compression will be applied.



  • Attack: This is the time it takes for the compressor to start reducing the gain of the signal after it crosses the threshold. It is measured in milliseconds (ms). A fast attack means that the compressor will react quickly and catch the initial peaks or transients of the signal. A slow attack means that the compressor will react slowly and let some of the peaks or transients pass through.



  • Release: This is the time it takes for the compressor to stop reducing the gain of the signal after it falls below the threshold. It is also measured in milliseconds (ms). A fast release means that the compressor will recover quickly and restore the original level of the signal. A slow release means that the compressor will recover slowly and keep reducing the level of the signal for a longer time.



  • Gain: This is an additional parameter that allows you to increase or decrease the overall output level of the compressor. It is measured in decibels (dB). It is often used to compensate for any loss or increase of volume caused by compression. For example, if you apply a lot of compression and make the signal quieter, you can use gain to boost it back up to match the original level.



The different types of compression




There are different types of compression that have different characteristics and applications. Some of the main types are:



  • Peak compression: This is a type of compression that responds to the peak level of the signal, which means that it compresses based on how loud or quiet each individual sample of audio is. It is very precise and accurate, but it can also sound unnatural or harsh if overdone. It is good for controlling sudden spikes or clicks in a signal.



  • RMS compression: This is a type of compression that responds to the root mean square (RMS) level of the signal, which means that it compresses based on how loud or quiet each segment of audio is over a certain period of time. It is less precise and accurate, but it can also sound more natural or smooth if done well. It is good for smoothing out volume variations in a signal.



  • Optical compression: This is a type of compression that uses an optical element such as a light bulb or an LED to control the gain reduction. It has a slow and smooth response that depends on how bright or dim the light source is. It can add warmth and character to a signal, but it can also introduce distortion or noise if pushed too hard. It is good for adding glue or cohesion to a mix.



  • FET compression: This is a type of compression that uses a field-effect transistor (FET) to control it can also introduce distortion or noise if pushed too hard. It is good for adding punch and energy to drums or vocals.