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Why use compression at all? Really.
Old 6th June 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
jindrich's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Why use compression at all? Really.

Yesterday I was listening to a new CD I bought, J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerts. It was an EMI analog recording made in 1979, digitally remastered for CD in 1997.
There were no session notes on the booklet but I guess it was recorded with the typical few SD mics, one brand of mic pres, or a small mixer, direct to tape.

Well, it sounded, absolutely glorious!

There was a huge sense of deepness, image and space, as if you could touch every single player, every detail, every breath were there, and above all, unbeliavably huge DYNAMICS, from the tiniest notes of a single solo violin to the whole group playing in unison, and everything in between. Absolutely true, REAL and lively, almost bigger than life.

Then I thought about the crap we all produce and are so proud about in Pop/Rock (and I mean everyone). Too much lows and highs, over the top, smashed to hell, and completely dull and lifeless.

1176 on the voice, LA2A on the bass, distressors on guitars, SSL on the drums, C2 on the bus... For glueing, you know.
To glue what exactly? Why compress at all?
There's NOTHING like the feeling of being in front of an amp listening to a guitar whispering harmonics and then going in full, with all the nuances of an unprocessed feedback. Nothing like he natural thump of a kick drum or the sweetness of a ride being hardly hit. Nothing like a sustained piano note and its beautiful decay. Notes breathing, going up and down in level, CONTRAST for gods sake.

Compressors where invented in a time of very limited dynamic range. Nowadays with have lots of it with CDs SACDs and DVD-As. Why do we still keep using them?


The best sounds I've heard live (besides classical concerts) were those performed on small theaters wihtout any PA system, except for the voice. 120dB of dynamic range, from the softest passages to the loudest ones. From instrument or amp, direct to audience.

Can you imagine how beautiful and lifelike records would sound, if they had dynamics, having space to breathe and not getting muddy and congested everywhere (like classical and jazz records)? Imagine being able to FEEL Keith Richards, Stewart Copeland, Prince, Madonna or Morrisey screams, Bruce Springsteen's horn section... all in your room. Wow.


From now on, I'm going to try getting rid of any compression. It's going to be a wonderful and lifelike ride.
Old 6th June 2006
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
kinda..

When I first start recording on 4 tracks and stuff, I never thought about what mic I was using, or what compression even was. I go back and listen to those songs and they just sound TIMELESS... almost ghostly... and it's not the "tape" sound or whatever.. because my "four track" was an ARC44 [four input 1/4" pci card] and samplitude 1.0beta... that's how I really started recording.. anyways, it doesn't even sound "digital" .. all we were worried about was writting songs, playing them one time perfectly for the recording, and giving it out.. no compression, $50 mics, all recorded in my parents' basement.. it sounded cool to me, and it still does..
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
GYMusic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by knerd
When I first start recording on 4 tracks and stuff, I never thought about what mic I was using, or what compression even was. I go back and listen to those songs and they just sound TIMELESS... almost ghostly... and it's not the "tape" sound or whatever.. because my "four track" was an ARC44 [four input 1/4" pci card] and samplitude 1.0beta... that's how I really started recording.. anyways, it doesn't even sound "digital" .. all we were worried about was writting songs, playing them one time perfectly for the recording, and giving it out.. no compression, $50 mics, all recorded in my parents' basement.. it sounded cool to me, and it still does..
Once your signal hits tape you are compressing.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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allencollins's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Compression is way over used I think. But we are so used to hearing it on rock records that we crave it.

If a Band of musicans have really good dynamics you don't need it. Ive done several records with no compression. They may not be as tight as a record with compression but they still sound good. It's a matter of taste.

In my opinion if you can 'hear' the compression there is too much. It's like Autotune now. Some engineers use way too much and for effect almost. I think it sounds bad. Just like I think too much compression sounds bad

The bottom line is compression will give you a tight more focused mix if used properly.

It can also make a bad bass player or Drummer or even singer sound better. I find that great singers with great natural control of dynamics don't need compression. But Ive only met 1 or 2 of them
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
If most rock bands spent as much time practicing their instruments as the players in your average international quality symphony orchestra, and if their instruments were 200+ years old, made by some of the most skilled craftsmen in history and worth tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars...

...then maybe we wouldnt need to process them as much to get them to sound good!



Oh and if the were all writing songs of equivilant quality to anything by Bach...


Im really trying to say its not that fair a comparison. But I agree with you in spirit!



M
Old 6th June 2006
  #6
Gear Addict
 
rlnyc's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jindrich
There was a huge sense of deepness, image and space, as if you could touch every single player, every detail, every breath were there, and above all, unbeliavably huge DYNAMICS, from the tiniest notes of a single solo violin to the whole group playing in unison, and everything in between. Absolutely true, REAL and lively, almost bigger than life.

Then I thought about the crap we all produce and are so proud about in Pop/Rock (and I mean everyone). Too much lows and highs, over the top, smashed to hell, and completely dull and lifeless.
absolutely right. change the world. start now with your next recordings.

good luck!

best,
rlnyc
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
There is a difference between compression and over-compression. Watch out for those "everyone" statements. I never compress on input, rarely on individual tracks, and only slightly on the analog mix bus. For that I use a comp with bass sidechain (1968) in series with a multiband - each with only 1-3 dB reduction. I use fader automation a bit as well. And I use EQ after to adjust the tone to correct for treble suppression.

For me, "loud" is when a sudden sound surprises me. If everything is loud, then nothing is loud. But I like to keep the music pleasing and listenable, and some compression can help with that.

Steve
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Nothing rocks more than a rock show blasting on 10! That's rock & roll man. Getting the speakers to pump without the listener having to dime his system is the idea. Simulate the effect without getting kicked out of the house.

Quote:
There was a huge sense of deepness, image and space, as if you could touch every single player, every detail, every breath were there, and above all, unbeliavably huge DYNAMICS, from the tiniest notes of a single solo violin to the whole group playing in unison, and everything in between. Absolutely true, REAL and lively, almost bigger than life.
And that is wonderfull isn't it! Anyhow, different genre of music that demands that subtlety. I personally do not want to touch and feel the subtle nuances of a dimed 100 watt 1959 Marshall - that's not what makes it great. I want it to be earth shaking and kick me in the chest
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
no tape.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GYMusic
Once your signal hits tape you are compressing.
my 4 track was on my computer, not on tape.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #10
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
When musicians can hear each other acoustically (i.e. no headphones) with most of the final arrangement being performed at once, little or no compression is needed. This is even true of singers who'll often also sing perfectly in tune.

"Tape compression" amounts to a few dB of peak limiting at the most. It is much more transparent than most compressors and "tape sound" emulators.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Bat Head Sound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Why Compress at All?

Well, it just depends on what you're going for. Certain genres (i.e. classical, jazz, new age) are musically very dynamic. People who listen to them appreciate the little musical nuances found in pieces such as Holst's "Jupiter" or "Mars" from "The Planets" or Ella Fitzgerald's rendition of "Summertime." Therefore, squashing the piss out of them is completely unacceptable. However, other genres (Rock, Pop) can be musically dynamic, but most of the listener would rather have it be loud, really loud, and there is nothing wrong with that. The rock guys want their stuff to sound big and aggresive and that can be achieved with the help of compression. In my opinion, nothing that Black Sabbath has put out has ever sounded as agressive as something rock that is put out today (also don't confuse aggressive with heavy). Not that there is anything wrong with that because truth be told, I would rather listen to old Black Sabbath then most things that have come out in the last couple of years. Think of Slayer (not everyone's cup of tea, but for the purpose of discussion, hear me out). They sound much more aggressive now then they did 15 years ago, and that has everything to do with the fact that the newer mixes have been squashed ` (and Rick Rubin).

Anyways, getting to my point. Don't view compression as something harmful, something that takes away from the dynamics of a song, even though that's what it does. View it instead as a creative tool to use in order to help you attain a certain sound. Use it however you'd like, or don't use it at all. The choice is up to you.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Dog_Chao_Chao's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
First I think classic music is a bad example when refering to compression. If i had a nice orchestra, nice mics and nice preamps ( or even if not) probably I woudn´t compress anything. Now Rock, Pop, indie,Hard-core is not classic music, dance is not classic music, etc..
How many tracks hit the dance floors where you can hear brutal pumping effect ? People like what they hear don´t they? They like to dance, or to sing or to reproduce themselfs along the music don´t they? Don´t we? So what is the problem? There is enough people and enough music for everyone. You don´t like compression? Fine no problem. I like to use it on somethings and on other i even like to abuse on it...so what?
By the way, orchestras are recorded live, not with overdubs. The musicians can control their own dynamics within the group. Some rock singer, alone in a vocal booth probably can´t. So you need it to level it and to make it sound like it belongs to the music, not just like a kareoke session.
Also, compressors are much fun!
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Dog_Chao_Chao's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bat Head Sound
Anyways, getting to my point. Don't view compression as something harmful, something that takes away from the dynamics of a song, even though that's what it does. View it instead as a creative tool to use in order to help you attain a certain sound. Use it however you'd like, or don't use it at all. The choice is up to you.
Now this is the way to think. I agree 100%
Old 6th June 2006
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Bassmec's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What! Can I have a copy of your customer list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jindrich
Yesterday I was listening to a new CD I bought, J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerts. It was an EMI analog recording made in 1979, digitally remastered for CD in 1997.
There were no session notes on the booklet but I guess it was recorded with the typical few SD mics, one brand of mic pres, or a small mixer, direct to tape.

Well, it sounded, absolutely glorious!

There was a huge sense of deepness, image and space, as if you could touch every single player, every detail, every breath were there, and above all, unbeliavably huge DYNAMICS, from the tiniest notes of a single solo violin to the whole group playing in unison, and everything in between. Absolutely true, REAL and lively, almost bigger than life.

Then I thought about the crap we all produce and are so proud about in Pop/Rock (and I mean everyone). Too much lows and highs, over the top, smashed to hell, and completely dull and lifeless.

1176 on the voice, LA2A on the bass, distressors on guitars, SSL on the drums, C2 on the bus... For glueing, you know.
To glue what exactly? Why compress at all?
There's NOTHING like the feeling of being in front of an amp listening to a guitar whispering harmonics and then going in full, with all the nuances of an unprocessed feedback. Nothing like he natural thump of a kick drum or the sweetness of a ride being hardly hit. Nothing like a sustained piano note and its beautiful decay. Notes breathing, going up and down in level, CONTRAST for gods sake.

Compressors where invented in a time of very limited dynamic range. Nowadays with have lots of it with CDs SACDs and DVD-As. Why do we still keep using them?


The best sounds I've heard live (besides classical concerts) were those performed on small theaters wihtout any PA system, except for the voice. 120dB of dynamic range, from the softest passages to the loudest ones. From instrument or amp, direct to audience.

Can you imagine how beautiful and lifelike records would sound, if they had dynamics, having space to breathe and not getting muddy and congested everywhere (like classical and jazz records)? Imagine being able to FEEL Keith Richards, Stewart Copeland, Prince, Madonna or Morrisey screams, Bruce Springsteen's horn section... all in your room. Wow.


From now on, I'm going to try getting rid of any compression. It's going to be a wonderful and lifelike ride.
You go there mate, Its all the more work for me then.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
PS You are still taking your medication I hope.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Dog_Chao_Chao's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I forgot: I think J. S. Bach sucks. I had 12 years of classic music school and I can´t hear the old man. I think it sound´s like a math midi composition. Boring. I think the guy was a ***! Sorry but this thread made me mad. I know the guy it´s not that bad. Try Brahms. Much better.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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Bat Head Sound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog_Chao_Chao
Now this is the way to think. I agree 100%
Thank you .
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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Ruphus's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you eat overdoses of salt regularly you´ll be having problems like with blood pressure or with your eyes.
But completely saltless meals are a no good idea at all. ( I know a chick who cooks more or less saltless, it all tastes ) Not even health wise.

I don´t want soft sounding records that you can´t hear half of the time only to be blasted out the door the very next moment. Compression has it´s place for good recordings, even in classical and jazz music.

What is obviously needed is a mixer who knows how to dose for a bold signal with enough dynamics to swing. Might be he won´t need compression ( or only very little ) in a situation like Bob O. described above, or could be he´d be putting in a whole lot, still without it sounding like squeezed to death.

Whatever, just spare me boring lame, pseudo-intellectual tracks that one needs a hearing aid or an isolation booth for to notice.

I suppose this is a topic where the popular happy medium actually applies.

Ruphus
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Notice how there's another thread happening right now berating film mixers for using too much dynamic range? Questions of artistic taste aside, everyday life has a signal-to-noise ratio that demands the use of compression at some stage in the process.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
jindrich's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hey it's not about Bach. The same goes with Stravinsky, Chopin or Mahler.
Or with Chet Baker for the matter.

My original point was that we got so used to smash everything (in the latest 30 years at least), that we just forgot how incredibly beautiful and expressive music can be. It's like getting used to McDonalds food to a point you end up considering it a great meal, and forgetting what you're missing. Then you go fortuitously to a french/spanish/italian restaurant. Booooom!

Now that I think about it, I dont remember being THRILLED by the sound of a record except with those from classical or Jazz. You know, when you play it and in the very first second you just jump out of the sofa with your tongue rolling down the floor, completely SPEECHLESS.
Well, maybe with some Elvis tune, but i'm not sure.

The funny thing is that Rock/Pop music CAN sound beautiful like that. I've heard it a few times, in small theaters without a PA system. Drums sounding direct, guitar and bass amps screaming, piano/rhodes/hammond natural sound, maybe a trumpet, voice with a mic (the exception). Nothing to do with the sound of a record, which is MUCH worse. Why?

Our Holy Grail, compression, is to blame.


and btw, I'm not comparing Classical music with Rock, or classical players with guitar players. There is talent in both camps.
I'm only pointing out that the RECORDED sound of those two things are worlds apart, the rock/pop losing by a thousand miles.
Is it maybe the engineers fault? (dont kill me)
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Any time you hear a recording played back through speakers, you're hearing compression.

I think the only kind of totally uncompressed recording is where you use a Moog Piano Bar or something.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I love compression. I think the Beatles Sgt. Peppers album sounds really nice, but that's just me.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
There were no session notes on the booklet but I guess it was recorded with the typical few SD mics, one brand of mic pres, or a small mixer, direct to tape.
Seems it would be impossible to know what was used. Would be easier to assume that if it were recorded in the 50's.
Old 6th June 2006
  #23
Lives for gear
 
DAWgEAR's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jindrich
Imagine being able to FEEL Keith Richards
No thanks. heh
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
lordnielson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog_Chao_Chao
I forgot: I think J. S. Bach sucks. Try Brahms. Much better.

Brahms sucks. Try Beethoven. Much better.




Next
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Why add compression? To shape the music to come across with more impact.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #26
7om
Gear Maniac
 
7om's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog_Chao_Chao
I forgot: I think J. S. Bach sucks. I had 12 years of classic music school and I can´t hear the old man. I think it sound´s like a math midi composition. Boring. I think the guy was a ***! Sorry but this thread made me mad. I know the guy it´s not that bad. Try Brahms. Much better.
Brahms is a pussy.

Calm down, I'm just messin' with you, though I do think Brahms is kinda boring. Not nearly the innovator that Bach was.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
jindrich's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
ok, i'll put it another way.

Why can I have Anne-Sophie Mutter (the violinist) with the Wien Philarmonic in my living room (or at least a VERY good recreation of that), but there's no way for it happening with the Stones, Blur, Incubus, Snow Patrol, Chili Peppers... you name it (because those Cds sound congested, mudded, wihtout the needed dynamic range any instrument has)

Sometimes I think ALL engineers should be banned unless they are named Al Schmitt
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
We're talking about apples and oranges.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
jindrich's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobR
We're talking about apples and oranges.
because as it's been demonstrated from resulting CD's, pop/rock audio engineers appear to be unable to make lifelike RECORDINGS like the classical/jazz audio engineers do, and therefore smash everything with compressors?

note: with Lifelike recording I mean how it would sound if you were with them in the room when the band plays

I know it may just be a different stylistical approach, but I truly miss pop/rock records sounding glorious and each player truly represented without any kind of truncation.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Dysanfel's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog_Chao_Chao
Try Brahms. Much better.
Or Shostakovich, those Pre-1900 guys get on my nerves.
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