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I need help!! To compress or not?
Old 12th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I need help!! To compress or not?

Hi, I'm from Nigeria and I've been following threads here to guide me when I want to buy any instrument.
In Nigeria, much of the recordings are done on a pretty basic level, although we can come up with pretty amazing results sometimes and that brings me to my question: why do I have to compress? What effect does it have on the overall sound quality of a mix? I have no external compressor in my studio and I have no idea how to hook one up even I manage to purchase it.

Quite frankly, the terms used to describe things here can get me lost cos I'm a newbie and I know I have a lot to learn....which is why I joined in the first place....to learn.
Thanks all!!
Old 12th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
If you are recording in a 24 bit system, there is little reason to compress any signal to protect dynamic range, which was the original reason that the compressor was invented. Now you can record uncompressed and make compression decisions (often software compressors) in the contest of the mix to make things sound better, which was not an option when we were all using analog tape with it's limited dynamic range.

However, on the high end of things, many hardware compressors impart their own sound or mojo to a track, and so you'll find some top engineers tracking through certain compressors as a matter of course, often not really adding much compression, just looking for that extra sound warpage that some high end, high dollar hardware compressor or another brings to the table.

On the low end, I would not do it.
Old 12th September 2012
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks man, that was quite helpful, at least I won't be bothering myself with that anymore!
I have tons of questions I'd love to get answers to.....could you still help?
Some of the recordings we do here take live instruments. Sometimes, up to 20 or more tracks of live sound are recorded and things can get really muddied up during mixing.
I use M audio Delta 1010 interface and a cheapo inter-M 32-8 analogue console but I recently purchased an AMR 2400 to step up sound The mixing and summing are done ITB but I've decided to get an affordable console to use as an analogue summing desk so as to get improved and punchier mixes without any sort of saturation so I'm wondering, which desk has great eqs (cos I intend to use those), and is affordable?
There was a nigerian artist that once produced an album in a studio in connecticut, the sound was much better than anything I've heard done in Nigeria for that genre of music and I've kept wondering, what is the secret?
Thanks!!
Old 12th September 2012
  #4
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Sotsirc's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What type of music is it? Maybe I can do a mix for free just for the fun of it?
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Very often inexperienced mixers eq tracks out of context and try to make every single track sound bigger than God. End result? Mud. Mix and eq in context, break things up into sections, blend sections together. I usually start with the most important element to me in the mix, make it sound great, and build the mix up around it to support it. As much of my work has been rock and pop, that means the lead vocal. To some mixers, the drum kit is the most important thing.
Old 12th September 2012
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Lol! For the heck of it eh? Well, we call them highlife songs, it's a genre of its own. A cocktail of two or more electric guitars, trumpets, saxophone, hand percussions like congas and claves, drums and whatever instrument the artist feels like adding to the mixture. It can be a real challenge cos the artists always want a loud and punchy mix which can he a pain in the ass because when you add the vocals it can turn to a nightmare to get a clean and heavy mix....still up for the challenge?
Thanks bill, I'll try that out and see how it goes. I must confess I've never tried that approach before.
Old 13th September 2012
  #7
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Sotsirc's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah, it sounds like fun. Send me a private message and I'll give you my email. I'll do it inbetween jobs so I might not get it done super fast.
Old 13th September 2012
  #8
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donsolo's Avatar
I as well, I'd like to have a go at this...


Anyway, the reality here is compression can be used in 1 of 2 ways.

on an individual track basis or across the entire mix.

Basically, you can do a few things here. Compressing tends to make the instrument sound a little more 2 dimensional solo but brings up the nuance in the mix.

When you do it to your overall mix, it's to make the entire mix sound louder. This is basically one of the tools we use in mastering. If your people are complaining that it's not bigger than life, turn your speakers up, make the mix how you think it should be and then turn them back down. Then, turn your compressor on and keep your threshold and ratio very high. Bring the threshold down so it begins to subtly compress your mix and then bring the gain up to make up for the volume difference. It takes years of experience to truly do it right and if you're having someone else master, don't send them the mix with the compressor on the overall mix, but it can make people happy when they're not being mastered.

It's like a spice though, too much and you ruin the whole dish.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #9
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Silent Sound's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by obiroyce ➑️
Lol! For the heck of it eh? Well, we call them highlife songs, it's a genre of its own. A cocktail of two or more electric guitars, trumpets, saxophone, hand percussions like congas and claves, drums and whatever instrument the artist feels like adding to the mixture. It can be a real challenge cos the artists always want a loud and punchy mix which can he a pain in the ass because when you add the vocals it can turn to a nightmare to get a clean and heavy mix....still up for the challenge?
Thanks bill, I'll try that out and see how it goes. I must confess I've never tried that approach before.
I would read "Slipperman's Recording Distorted Guitars from Hell". Here's a link:

Slipperman's Recording Distorted Guitars From Hell

It's long winded and vulgar, but it does have a ton of great information. While I don't guess that you're dealing with a lot of super heavy distorted guitar sounds, you can still take all that information and translate it to any mix. Most of what he talks about is how to create space in a dense mix so each instrument can be heard clearly. There's great information on EQ and compression as well! I've read it many times because each time I go through it, I learn something new!
Old 14th September 2012
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Yeah, tried to go thru the slipperman posts and my, does he curse! It's pretty long winded like you said and I just couldn't absorb as much as I'd have loved to. The fact that much of what he had to say sounded really foreign an complicated to me didn't help either.
What I'd prefer is a basic step by step and broken down guide in the simplest of english o put me through.
Old 15th September 2012
  #11
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NoPro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The answer is sometimes compressing before is good. Sometimes not. You can't go back unless you re-do the track once you've committed to compression before hand. Try it. There's so many compression plugins now that if your digital recording lacks the umfff you can mess around with compression after the track that had no compression. Sometimes compression is an effect that helps you vibe while tracking....so choose wisely but don't fret if you've committed beforehand... You have a choice.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Deleted f25ebd2
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by obiroyce ➑️
Yeah, tried to go thru the slipperman posts and my, does he curse! It's pretty long winded like you said and I just couldn't absorb as much as I'd have loved to. The fact that much of what he had to say sounded really foreign an complicated to me didn't help either.
What I'd prefer is a basic step by step and broken down guide in the simplest of english o put me through.
I'm far from the most experienced mixer, but I've heard a few simple principles that are a good step toward getting a less muddy mix, I think.

1. Identify the most important sounds/instruments, should be only a couple-a few. Basically, what tracks do you want/expect the listener to pay attention to? What is the most important sound in the song? Work on these tracks to get them sounding the way you want, with compression, eq, reverb, or delay, or just leave them as they are if you like the sound.

2. Bring up the other tracks in the mix (after the most important tracks have been made to sound their best). Do what you can to get everything working together with panning and balancing volumes.

3. If the mix is still muddy, or you feel that some important tracks are losing their sound when the other tracks are added, go to work with some eq and/or compression.

a. Compress tracks that seem to be in the right place in the mix at some times, but then at others jump to be too loud, or fall back and lose too much detail.

b. EQ tracks to complement each other. For example, if there is something you want to hear in the vocal that falls out of focus when you bring in a guitar, try making an eq peak or null and sweeping that around the vocal/guitar track. Once you have found the frequency where the problem is occurring, cut some of that frequency out of the guitar track, and maybe boost it slightly in the vocal.

4. As a general tip, cut low frequencies out of tracks that do not need them. A vocal might not need anything under 150 hz or so, but the information that is down there might muddy up other mix elements and make your speakers work harder than they need to. Just sweep a high pass filter or low cut up from 20 hz on all of your non-bass tracks, and pick a place slightly before you start to hear the loss of bass information that you want in the track.


All that stuff is pretty basic, and there's a lot more to it that I might not have written down very clearly/at all, but I hope it helps. If you have a bit of money to invest, this is a great guide on mixing strategies: Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio: Mike Senior: 9780240815800: Amazon.com: Books
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