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Compression Question

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Fewsion +

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Compression Question
Tooling around with a few older projects and some terribly poorly mixed projects. Started tinkering with compression in a few of them to tidy them up and stumbled across a trick which was making the track sound a whole lot better.

I used the level faders in the mixer to bring the tracks to a rough (better) balance, and then I took it back just a little bit more than sounded levelled. Then I cranked up the output gain on the compressors (as an insert) on the tracks which had them and the particular sound (bass, drum and synth I've tried it on) sounded really good. Really prominent but not taking up the headroom and full as well.

Have I done anything different in this except raise the gain as you would in Ableton's clip envelope for example? Reason doesn't (not in version 5 anyway) have any gain envelopes on clips and so I'm guessing this worked the same way. Either way, I'm sticking with it, just wanted to see if anyone's tried this before. Quite happy with the results.
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I'm not 100% sure what you mean. If the signal is loud enough the hiss will be less noticeable.
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I don't get it either. Are you saying you think setting the levels of the mix with the compressors make up gain, rather than the fader makes your mixes sound better?
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I'm saying that I can raise the signal to a level in the mix that I'm happy with using the output gain of the compressor. If I used the level fader it would start to muddy the mix. This way I'm getting good balance but also clarity in the mix.

I used to reduce the threshold to bring the volume to a level that was satisfactory in the mix on individual instruments. I never touched the gain really. Maybe I just started to work out compressors. I guess I'm pushing up the quieter sounds this new way rather than softening the louder sounds. Both have the same effect I guess, dynamic range is gone.
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The output gain on the compressor IS just a level fader.

It sounds like previously you were making things quieter via the comp (which is what compressors do), without making up the gain at the end of it... so it probably sounded 'worse' or muddy. Why are you compressing them in the first place?
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Quote:

Originally Posted by timothyallan View Post

The output gain on the compressor IS just a level fader.

It sounds like previously you were making things quieter via the comp (which is what compressors do), without making up the gain at the end of it... so it probably sounded 'worse' or muddy. Why are you compressing them in the first place?

Serious? My thinking was that if I pull the output gain up after the compressor, then I'm raising the compressed signal rather than feeding more input into the compressor. The only logic behind that was that output gain was the last dial on the compressor from left to right, ergo, it must be the last step in the signal path. Hmmm....

Why am I compressing? Basically, when I set the level to the appropriate db on the mixer, it didn't have enough oomph, so I wanted to crank out a few extra db, nothing drastic.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Fewsion View Post

Serious? My thinking was that if I pull the output gain up after the compressor, then I'm raising the compressed signal rather than feeding more input into the compressor. The only logic behind that was that output gain was the last dial on the compressor from left to right, ergo, it must be the last step in the signal path. Hmmm....


Its not the last step in the signal path...

The signal chain goes like this: Input -> Insert (your compressor) -> Pre-fader send -> Pan -> Fader -> Post-fader send -> stereo master.

Changing the level via makeup gain on a compressor will have the same effect as changing your fader... Neither control the amount of signal through your compressor.
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One of the important lessons to learn with mixing is to figure out which sounds require compression, and which sounds are better uncompressed to maintain their dynamic range, and which tracks only require subtle compression. Most of the basslines I make require varying levels of compression to keep them fat and rolling at a consistent volume. For that kind of compression I often opt for an RComp or a C1, HComp or Sonitus. But portamento sub-bass lines with a consistent volume generally don't need it. Hi-hat tracks, loops etc which need their levels more consistent I find a more subtle compressor like the BlockFish has been my staple for years. Which sounds to compress as a BUS is important as well, which I think works best by BUSing varying synth sounds that make up a particular phrase, as it melds their dynamics together so they're better associated as a phrase by the listener. Using a very audible compressor with a light approach is great for stacks, as it melds the envelope of the stack together so it seems more as "one".

Kicks I've found, as most quality kick samples are pre-processed, require no compression. Stabs and some fx, especially those that fade in over a short period, compression often has a negative effect. When a tune breaks down I find it's good to use less compressed elements, as it adds more dynamic liveliness to the tune.

Tweaking a patches envelopes to have the best sound prior to processing often leads to better results than post-correcting with compression.

But I've found with recording instruments and vocals, pretty much everything needs a degree of compression.
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With the workflow in Reason I find that making those decisions often warrants some creative re-routing. With Live you're just a CTRL-G away from a creating a buss, but in Reason, your virtual rack is like your hardware gear where you have to turn the rack around and start re-patching cables and creating combinators and the like. At least, having used Reason for so long I'd imagine that's how hardware worked.

I like the glue suggestion though for similar sounds. With my OP, I wasn't suggesting that I'm going for heaps of db reduction, just that in varying amounts, my strange method was working, whether for glueing sounds or transient taming. But I'll take up the suggestion for a stacked synth patch in future.

I must say I've found that a lot of sampled kicks from the packs are too heavily processed though. It sounds like you're getting mastered kicks on their own, or loops or whatever when you need something slightly tamer in the mixdown stage. That's perhaps where I'm feeling the need for the db reduction. Either that or using shithouse in-built Reason samples which require shitloads of boost.
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