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Comps: Threshold Knob vs. Input Gain
Old 30th January 2009
  #1
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opentune's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Comps: Threshold Knob vs. Input Gain

Does it affect your working flow or even your approach of the mix when you
have a comp offering an input gain knob instead of a threshold knob?

When mixing on an analog console i use one channel (receiving input signal
from recorder/DAW) as an "input gain fader" for the compressor that is connected
to this channel´s direct out. The second channel brings back the compressed signal, which is then routed to the mix.

Having things routed/connected this way, i can "drive" the comp with the first
fader and "tame" the return signal with the other fader.
I like doing that with groups as well.

Anyone else playing around with routings like that? Thoughts? Comments?
Old 30th January 2009
  #2
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Why can't you do it your way with either type of compressor?

Once you set your preset, it will behave the same way when you send it more signal.

No?
Old 30th January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny Gioia ➡️
Why can't you do it your way with either type of compressor?
I know that i can do it with either type of compressor... i should have pointed that out more clearly... sorry...

I was just curious if the input gain method is prefered even if many, many
comps have a threshold knob...
Old 31st January 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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opentune's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thought i should give this a BUMP.

Anyone?
Old 31st January 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
If I understand your question correctly- you're inquiring whether there is a practical difference between driving the input gain up versus lowering the threshold and vice versa?

I would say yes... sometimes...

For instance, if you had a soft knee and you raised the threshold all the way up (instead of increasing the input gain- driving harder into the comp), you wouldn't benefit from that upper part of the "curve".

That said I would think in the normal operating range of most "linear" plugin comps, there wouldn't be a difference. I'm sure certain outboard gear has a sweet spot, and I have a hunch that certain "analog emulations" of outboard comps are not completely linear throughout the whole range. So I would think the sound of these would be affected by the input gain/threshold relationship.

What do you think?
Old 26th March 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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opentune's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well, i haven´t spent much time thinking about the technical side of this approach.
Whenever i set up a compressor (usually a hardware unit) this way, i´m just
doing it for comfort/feel reasons.
I really love having an input and an output fader close to the master section
of the desk (sweet spot) - and i noticed that i don´t get distracted by the
gain reduction meter....

Dunno if that makes sense.
Old 26th March 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Its not always about peaks? speaking for plug-in eq's, with lower ratio you'll clip if you drive the input if you want to comp. lower than the peaks of signal-thats when thresh. gets useful. Also you might want to add the gain later as maybe an eq (boosting) in the chain could use the headroom. You'll think more like a limiter when driving inputs but yes you could do that too.
Old 27th March 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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Yes, i gotta be careful when driving a hot input signal into the compressor, but
most of the time it´s not more than 6 or so dB that i add via the fader.

It´s also a cool option to ride the comp input signal during the mixdown.
Sometimes it´s vocals, sometimes even kickdrum.
Old 27th March 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've never taken more than 30 seconds to think about it... So, I guess it doesn't really matter to me.
Old 27th March 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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opentune's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont ➡️
I've never taken more than 30 seconds to think about it... So, I guess it doesn't really matter to me.
Maybe you should give it a minute. heh
Old 27th March 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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Fleaman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Like someone mentioned, it depends.

On the Anamod AM660 (and I assume a real Fairchild), part or a lot of the sound of this comp comes from driving the input (via input gain knob)...then of course you can adjust your threshold (via threshold knob) independently for your desired compression effect.
Old 27th March 2009
  #12
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
I think there are 2 parts to the answer.

1) Relationship between threshold and knee
2) Using your board to push a signal into the compressor varies where the signal lies in relation to its sweet spot in terms of gain, for both the board and the comp. This creates a correlation between signal distortion and compression that at best is aesthetic and complements your workflow. No matter what, it creates an interdependence between two variables (gain-induced distortion and compression) which would otherwise remain separate. If using one fader to control both variables locks things in place faster than independently controlling each, then it could make a good rule to which there are always exceptions.

There was a good thread recently which touched on the concept of interrelated variables, workflow, and perception. The original poster used a source file and an EQ plugin, and then demonstrated that several EQ plugins, ranging across the price spectrum of free to "you traded in a U87 for what?" could be made to perfectly null. The only real differences between most of them were linkages between gain and Q (and offset numbers for the same frequencies). It's really HOW something changes over time that gives us a sense of its quality; linking the Q and gain in different ways causes a different perception of what the EQ is doing when we adjust it. But even so, once a static point is settled on...they all match.

For example, take an EQ that lowers Q depending on boost. You can hone in on a range that needs boosting, and then bring up the gain. The louder you make it, the smoother the response becomes, without an overly resonant center at the frequency you are boosting. And that's just adjusting the gain. If you took a different EQ plug, where there was no interrelation, you would have to adjust the Q and gain to achieve the same effect. And without an end product from one to match to the other, you'd probably end up with very different results...even though both can be made to bit-accurately cancel regardless of settings.

The key is that the end goal is arrived at by process, not stasis. If you've arrived at a process that works for you, then great!

I just have an uncertain kind of feeling that comes with throwing gain stagin to the wind. But I could be wrong.
Old 27th March 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jigsawlogic ➡️
The key is that the end goal is arrived at by process, not stasis. If you've arrived at a process that works for you, then great!
Yep, it works out for me. I´m going to play around/refine that approach and
maybe one day i´ll understand what i´m actually doing.heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by jigsawlogic ➡️
I just have an uncertain kind of feeling that comes with throwing gain stagin to the wind. But I could be wrong.
It´s not proper gain staging anymore, that´s for sure. Sometimes i ran into problems - though the sound i achieved with this technique was always more
important to me than the gain staging.

Thanks for your post, man. An interesting read.
Old 28th March 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I pefer to just have a big input dial and a big output dial, 1176, EMI style. Even though this is just a cosmetic thing, I feel that it works better for me having input gain rather than threshold. And the dial has to be big.. very big.
Old 29th March 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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opentune's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I´d say it´s much more than just a cosmetic thing. It gives you a precise control.

Maybe you can replace the knobs on your units?
Attached Images
Comps: Threshold Knob vs. Input Gain-knob.jpeg 
Old 29th March 2009
  #16
Gear Guru
 
theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by opentune ➡️
Does it affect your working flow or even your approach of the mix when you
have a comp offering an input gain knob instead of a threshold knob?

When mixing on an analog console i use one channel (receiving input signal
from recorder/DAW) as an "input gain fader" for the compressor that is connected
to this channel´s direct out. The second channel brings back the compressed signal, which is then routed to the mix.

Having things routed/connected this way, i can "drive" the comp with the first
fader and "tame" the return signal with the other fader.
I like doing that with groups as well.

Anyone else playing around with routings like that? Thoughts? Comments?
Obviously your board has a post fader direct out (pehaps switchable?). Most boards I've used had a pre-fader DO, so playing with the output fader wouldn't make any diff at all on those boards under this routing.

I guess what you're going for is having the two slider pot faders for controlling your send to the compressor as well as its return's level in the mix, yeah?

Because I don't (maybe not enough coffee?) see the diff, otherwise, between that and the more 'normal' practice of setting gain staging going to the compressor using the channel's trim pot (as God and the board designer probably intended).


And, in response to the central question (input gain vs. threshold), I think JigSaw covered that pretty well.

There are a number of interrelated variables... changing one changes the relationship of all of them, to some extent.


I'll be frank, before I had my own project studio, I had decidedly incomplete mastery (make that more passing familiarity) of compression. I had a theoretical grasp, I knew the nominal ranges, typical settings... but in my heart, I knew I was just twisting knobs and hoping for the best.

It wasn't until I could sit down in my own space with a proper, full control compressor, with no client breathing down my neck and just experiment and experiment, that I finally 'got' it.

(I would probably have done better with the 'two-knob' retro boxes that have been the rage now for some time. I'll reserve elaboration on my speculation that at least some of their popularity is that they are 'easy' to use and those who get bollixed up in the multiple interdependencies of a full-control compressor may well feel more comfortable.)
Old 29th March 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 ➡️
(maybe not enough coffee?)
Woah, you should do something. Seriously. heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 ➡️
Because I don't (maybe not enough coffee?) see the diff, otherwise, between that and the more 'normal' practice of setting gain staging going to the compressor using the channel's trim pot (as God and the board designer probably intended).
Well, i prefer the fader because it gives me more control. Driving an inserted
compressor with the gain/trim pot isn´t that comfortable/precise.
And i can control the two faders (send and return) with one hand. So the other
hand is free to do even more silly things during mixdown.heh
Old 29th March 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks... I'm now on my fourth mug and feeling a little more human...

Old 29th March 2009
  #19
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FreshSkweez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by opentune ➡️
Does it affect your working flow or even your approach of the mix when you
have a comp offering an input gain knob instead of a threshold knob?
Not anymore. I'm used to it now. But I remember being a lot more comfortable having to turn one treshhold knob instead of two at once. Auto-gain-makeup comps are even more of a bummer - they never seem to make up gain accurately enough and I still have a hard time finding a sweet spot on them.
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