Compressors offer many advantages over dynamic range compression.

Compressors offer many advantages over dynamic range compression.

Have you ever wondered why a top engineer talks about the different tones of each compressor? Most people think and talk about circuits that make the difference in tone, such as tubes, analog circuit design, and so on.

Well, nobody has told me exactly why the compressor changes the tone. I have concluded in my research why Compressor performs two functions. The first is a dynamic control unit, as we all know, and the second is a toning machine.

The compressor has an internal fader. The fader will be lowered from the Threshold level to its own level. If the ratio is 3: 1, the fader goes down 2 dB when the 3dB signal increases above the threshold level. Attack time is the time to lower the fader. The fader does not go above the threshold level. The funny thing is that no actual compression happens at all. The voltage of +2 volts can not be compressed to +1 volts. There are actually other ways of reducing usage in a number of ways. There is no such thing as compressed air or compressed can. The amount of energy is changed. Therefore, +2 volts is not compressed and +1 volts is reduced. The dynamic range is compressed, but the signal is not compressed. The name came from a dynamic range change and there was no signal compression itself.

So how does the tone change? We have to understand the envelope. We all know the envelope, right? It is a dynamic change in time. Kick drums have very short attack time and big attack level. However, adjusting the attack time and level on the compressor makes the kick drum sound completely different. If the attack time is shorter and higher the ratio, threshold level above of the sustain level above the envelope, such as 4: 1, the signal exceeding the threshold is lowered and the kick drum characteristics are reduced.

We simply say that the envelope’s attack and decay time have about half of the tone. Sustain and release have another half. Therefore, when you adjust this envelope, the tone changes. It is dynamic EQ’ing.

There is a new reason to use compression for almost all sources. What do we get from the mic? It is not what you imagine or expect. If you place the microphone 2 inches above the C3 on the grand piano, you will get a C3 level that is much louder than other keys. The compressor must reformulate the source of the dynamic level. Removing popping or sibilance before performing a low cut or surgical EQ can be performed effectively in Compressor. That’s what Compressor should do. That is one reason same SM58 on certain rock vocal sounds a lot nicer than yours.

That’s why I call it a tone shaping device like all top engineer talks without telling us why.


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