So far we have talked about ‘Threshold,’ which is the level above which compression will take place and ‘Ratio’ which is the amount of compression being applied. So that with the settings at -12dB for Threshold and 6 x 1 for Ratio – for every 6dB rise in the signal value above -12dB, the compressor will only give 1dB output.
A typical ratio would be between 2 to 5, but I often use higher levels than that; the trick is having the effect applied but not audible, and that takes experience and practice. On a side note, ratios above 10 x 1 can be considered to be limiters, such that the output is pretty much stopped from going above a certain value.
So, what about ‘Output Gain,’ ‘Attack’ & ‘Release’?
Output gain is sometimes called ‘make-up gain,’ and this control can be used to raise the overall level of the compressed clip back to a similar level to the original (or louder if you need it). Try turning the effect on and off to match levels.
‘Release’ is how quickly the compressor stops compressing the signal once the need for compression has passed. You will probably find that you need quite low figures for percussive audio, such as drums, as long release values can make the audio sound odd. 100 ms (milliseconds) is a typical figure, but for speech I tend to use lower figures. But play around until you find the right level that sounds natural.
We’ll talk finally about ‘Attack’ in the last part of this blog on the Tube-modeled Compressor, Part 4.
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