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Bus compressor for solo piano track?
Old 17th November 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Bus compressor for solo piano track?

Hey, guys! I was wondering what type of bus compressors and settings do you like to start with for simple or more sparse tracks? Stuff like singer songwriter where it may be a vocal and piano, or guitar and vocal, or just an instrumental with a piano and light sound effects, etc?

I’m curious about different flavors and applications; SSL comp? Varimu? Focusrite red?
Old 18th November 2021
  #2
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
On the Mad Muse studio tour on Produce like a Pro...the guy talks about really liking the AML 52f50 on piano. The 54f50 probably sounds good too.
Old 18th November 2021
  #3
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Buzz SOC20 would be possibly a first
choice. Natural, musical, quiet and flexible. Their dbc20 is a great choice too and at the moment very underpriced for what it delivers. Settings would likely be lower ratios, medium to slow attacks, and medium to fast release with moderate to light gain reduction. We’re just trying to level it and give it cohesion.
Old 18th November 2021
  #4
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swafford's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I always use the RND 5043 for my piano/organ tracks. Lots of flexibility in attack and release and shaping. As regards to settings, what sounds good is what I use - an attack that doesn’t rob the transient and a release that serves the tempo of the song.
Old 18th November 2021
  #5
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I mix a lot of television cues with (real) piano as the central instrument, often with a nylon string or light synth background.

These days, I mostly use volume automation to help level the track, before any compression.

On the bus, I’m looking to level things out using a limiter (often using ozone 9) and monitoring my crest factor (dynamic range) so the music editor at the post mix won’t have to ride the cue to fit under dialogue. When all is said and done, it can sound very good. Final master is usually hanging around -15 lufs for solo piano-ish tracks.

I will sometimes compress reverbs and leave the piano alone, it all depends on what sounds best.

For singer songwriter or instrumental music designed for listening and not supporting a visual or dialogue, compression on piano can be used as an effect, but for the most part, I still like volume automation as a perk of the modern daw. Playing piano well at the tracking stage helps, too.
Old 18th November 2021
  #6
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Robby in WA's Avatar
UAD 33609
Old 18th November 2021
  #7
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
In my experience a lot of comps aren’t too suitable for exposed piano tracks because they create too obvious and unnatural sounding artifacts. I favor clip gain/volume automation and then slower, vari-mu comps for keeping the sound as natural as possible. Manley Vari-Mu (hardware or UAD2 software and the UAD fairchild 670 are my favorites.
Old 18th November 2021
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I often use the Vertigo VSC-2 on piano. There's a piano preset in it that I just tweak the threshold from. Seems to work well.
Old 18th November 2021
  #9
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ionian's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I find the more expensive hardware compressors seem to be able to handle piano without artifacts or making it sound bad, and in most cases enhances the piano.
Hardware that I own that kills on piano - Vertigo VSC-3, Dramastic Obsidian, Knif Vari-Mu II.

If you're looking for a plug in, try waves RVox. I know it 's a vocal plug in but that compressor seems to work on everything.
Old 18th November 2021
  #10
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SSL (type) surely does the job.
Old 19th November 2021
  #11
AB3
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Agree about the Buzz comps. I would also add that David Hill Titans are great on grand piano.
Old 19th November 2021
  #12
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I typically use slower comps. I finally settled on the Summit Audio plugin by Softube and the Fairchild 670 by Overloud.
Old 19th November 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
gear is agnostic of genre and instrument: it either does the job or it doesn't - use what you like/sounds good to your ears...
Old 19th November 2021
  #14
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thenewexhibit ➡️
I was wondering what type of bus compressors and settings do you like to start with for... stuff like singer songwriter... solo piano, vocal and piano, or guitar and vocal...
Well, I may be in the minority here but I'm not sure I'd be deploying "bus compression" at all on the type of sparser material you describe. I'd be mixing the song as best I can and leaving all or any additional treatment of the 2-tr to the ME.
Old 21st November 2021
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I would use a transparent comp for piano only, and separate for the voc, you can use more coloured /slower ones, like Lindell 254 or ACME Opticom from PA. I master my piano solo tracks with the Softube Weiss Compressor. Setting parallel compression transparent, adjust drywet like you want, really simple to use. Saturation with tape machines following as wished. Waves Abbey Road J37 for blues piano, Slate VTM for classical piano.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by melodic dreamer ➡️
I typically use slower comps. I finally settled on the Summit Audio plugin by Softube and the Fairchild 670 by Overloud.
I really like the 670 by overloud, very well done, and three different models... But not really slow. Fairchild attack is pretty fast, about 0.4ms if i remember well; thats why i rarely compress with it. I use it more as a mojo machine, tweakening the tubes and/or the transfo (carefully because its mojo is pretty intense!)...

Comments gave almost everything already, i think the vertigo is good if the track is in the pristine modern vibes.... Vari mu for more color and character, a manley/knif/tubecore for modern way, something older for a vintage vibes like a rca ba6a...
Not a word about avalon? For clean acustic duties, transparency, this is the way... Strange, seems like avalon is out of fashion now. 10 years back it would have been noticed in priority...

If its just for a project, buying a high end comp is pretty rough. So emulation of all this; the vertigo vsc-3 emu is big... Pulsar for the manley, spl iron PA... If you are used to acustica audio, el rey is the rca, magenta the manley, amber for avalon, coral for the spl... If you want the best sound possible, forget the algo and go to acustica audio; it's the best solution to get the analog high end quality itb...
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann ➡️
Well, I may be in the minority here but I'm not sure I'd be deploying "bus compression" at all on the type of sparser material you describe. I'd be mixing the song as best I can and leaving all or any additional treatment of the 2-tr to the ME.
So true, bus compression is over rated nowadays... Even compression generally since decades... Working the dunamic is sometimes to often needed, but put comp automaticalky everywhere, hum.....

For me bus compression is sacrifying punch (with drums on the mix; or lets say intensity's nuances here with a piano) to obtain a more explosive results....

I would probably do like you, just mix properly. I very rarely use bus compression, or at least if a very explosive mix is the goal...
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by nohay ➡️
I really like the 670 by overloud, very well done, and three different models... But not really slow. Fairchild attack is pretty fast, about 0.4ms if i remember well; thats why i rarely compress with it. I use it more as a mojo machine, tweakening the tubes and/or the transfo (carefully because its mojo is pretty intense!)...

Comments gave almost everything already, i think the vertigo is good if the track is in the pristine modern vibes.... Vari mu for more color and character, a manley/knif/tubecore for modern way, something older for a vintage vibes like a rca ba6a...
Not a word about avalon? For clean acustic duties, transparency, this is the way... Strange, seems like avalon is out of fashion now. 10 years back it would have been noticed in priority...

If its just for a project, buying a high end comp is pretty rough. So emulation of all this; the vertigo vsc-3 emu is big... Pulsar for the manley, spl iron PA... If you are used to acustica audio, el rey is the rca, magenta the manley, amber for avalon, coral for the spl... If you want the best sound possible, forget the algo and go to acustica audio; it's the best solution to get the analog high end quality itb...
Agreed… I use the Summit for compression and the Overloud set with zero compression just to add some harmonic distortion.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #19
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Why would you want to compress piano? Two days ago I went to a concert Candlelight: Chopin’s Best Works
One more time. Why would you want to compress piano?
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slava A ➡️
Why would you want to compress piano? Two days ago I went to a concert Candlelight: Chopin’s Best Works
One more time. Why would you want to compress piano?
Because there are times one does not want a piano to sound like a piano in the room, but rather a piano in a space that fits the track. Basically it is all about the project.

Would I want to compress a piano if the track was a solo classical piece? Probably not.
Would I want to compress a piano to make it fit in a track where the drums, bass, guitars and vocals are compressed?
Well, it would probably help it fit.

Again, it's all about the project.
Old 22nd November 2021
  #21
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Piano's have been compressed in pop music since forever.

Lots of compressed piano's on Beatles stuff.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by melodic dreamer ➡️
Because there are times one does not want a piano to sound like a piano in the room, but rather a piano in a space that fits the track. Basically it is all about the project.

Would I want to compress a piano if the track was a solo classical piece? Probably not.
Would I want to compress a piano to make it fit in a track where the drums, bass, guitars and vocals are compressed?
Well, it would probably help it fit.

Again, it's all about the project.
Also depending the way it is performed, some piano tracks could have huge dynamic, with light moments, and loud moments...
This is the principle of a dynamic tool, lol.

In modern standard, its important that it could be played in any context, some noisy context too: car, transports are great examples; strong dynamic wont be easy to enjoy

As far im not a big fan of compression everywhere, like today's fashion, the fundamental is still important. Funny to see so much people compressing everything, and some other don't realise the interest. I think there is a balance in the middle. Use when its indeed, simply... thats my way.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #23
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ionian's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slava A ➡️
Why would you want to compress piano? Two days ago I went to a concert Candlelight: Chopin’s Best Works
One more time. Why would you want to compress piano?
I applaud your willingness to admit your ignorance and your request to be educated so that you may become a better engineer.

I'm not sure this thread can help you at the moment though because if you're not sure WHY something would need to be compressed, you first need to learn about what's called "dynamic range" and how it affects the performance of different instruments as well as what genres of music need wide dynamic range in their instruments versus what genres don't.

Before you start asking people to teach you why you need to compress certain instruments, you should be reading up on dynamic range first.

Good luck on your journey on wanting to become a better educated engineer!
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by melodic dreamer ➡️
Basically it is all about the project.
I agree on that. Personally I never recorded and mixed real piano in a busy mix, say rock and other loud stuff. But I recorded a lots of real classical pianos and did many busy, both loud and soft arrangements and mixes where I used sampled pianos and usually it is all about changing velocity and keeping mix on the quieter side before mastering. I don't know maybe when piano is very bright in the high register one might want to compress it lightly. Don't know, we have to hear samples I guess.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian ➡️
I applaud your willingness to admit your ignorance and your request to be educated so that you may become a better engineer.

I'm not sure this thread can help you at the moment though because if you're not sure WHY something would need to be compressed, you first need to learn about what's called "dynamic range" and how it affects the performance of different instruments as well as what genres of music need wide dynamic range in their instruments versus what genres don't.

Before you start asking people to teach you why you need to compress certain instruments, you should be reading up on dynamic range first.

Good luck on your journey on wanting to become a better educated engineer!
Thank you very much!!! You made me laugh and I have a very, very thick skin.
First of all I am NOT an engineer.
Secondly I have a degree in music.
And finally a did a lots of recording/arranging/producing/mixing of different projects.
Please tell me your age and if you think I am much younger then you are.
@ psycho_monkey Please, please do not delete my and the other fellow messages for bickering.
Old 22nd November 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
I dug out a couple of older stuff I did. Sampled piano and players are good. No EQ, no compression
I'll try to find something else in rock or aggressive.
Attached Files

Piano for GS #1.mp3 (793.3 KB, 65 views)

Piano for GS #2.mp3 (1.60 MB, 67 views)

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