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Software Compressor Q?

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by Brother Junk, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    So, I've read all about compressors, everything I could find. Some of the links I've read I found on this site.

    I'm not ashamed to say that there is little that I truly understand about them. And I've never gotten to use a hw unit.

    Threshold I get, (I'm trying to recall all the settings) "make up" I get.

    I'm still confused about knee vs ratio. And playing with them doesn't reveal it to me either. Can someone explain the difference to a dummy?
     
    audiokid likes this.
  2. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    These vids are pretty good.

    And while watching them, I realized it's not ratio that is confusing me. Ratio I totally understand. It's "Gate" that I don't get....

    Several of my compressors have "Gate" on them. And I don't quite get what that is used for...or how it integrates with knee. Or why it's in a compressor at all...is that typical for hw's?

     
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Ratio is how much a signal is reduced when the signal hits the threshold.
    A softknee will make gain reduction happen a bit before the threshold to make it softer compression and hard knee is compressing only when the signal pass the threshold

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
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    Lowell Massachusetts
    Oooooohhhhhh......I get it now. In my little graphs in the compressor plugin, I couldn't see that the soft knee took over before the threshold point. I saw the bend from the softer knee...but not where it took over.

    The gate still has me a little lost. I've used them before independently, but it doesn't seem to function the same way inside the compressor plug-in, so it's a lil confusing.

    Something I thought of though, is instead of searching "gate compressor plugin" etc, I'll search the actual plug in name and find a manual or something. PT compressors I think I have a handle on, but Logic's compressors are a little on the complex side, or hard to understand...at least for me.

    I have a multiband compressor now, but in order to use that effectively, I need to understand how they work in general. I understand side-chaining too.

    It seems like a gate inside a compressor is more for recording issues like bleeding. I can't see a reason it would be needed on a vocal....does that sound right?
     
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Main component of a gate (regardless of the unit of plugin) :
    • Threshold : the audio level when the gates opens and let the signal through
    • The attack : the time it gets to open up
    • The hold : the time it stays open until it start to close
    • the release : the time it gets to close down
    • the Range : how much the gate reduces the signal
    Mutibands are the same as regular compressor but affects a range of frequencies independently from others. so you could compress low frequencies more than high frequencies... and so on..

    The more bleeds you have the harder setting a gate is. you need a good range of difference between the bleed and the level of the recorded instrument to get a good seperation.
    Also some gates have a frequency range of detection you can play with.. so if hihat gets to a tom mic, you can make the tom gate react to lower frequencies and therefor, it won't be activated by the hi hat...

    At some point volume automation is a better alternative.
    All in all, I see all these as Tools to fix problems.. if there isn't any.. keep them out of the signal chain...
     
  6. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    So @pcrecord , would you say the gate function is mostly for actually recorded material (vs. VST's etc)?

    And when doing a recorded track where drums for instance are mic'd, is the bar that you guys shoot for to have no bleed? Or just to control it...

    A good analogy for what I'm trying to discern is with vocal breaths. A lot of the time, if you take them out completely, it sounds a little weird. So, I typically just lower the volume of the breaths, but not remove them totally. Not all of the time,...but most.

    Is that how you handle drum bleed?

    "At some point volume automation is a better alternative. All in all, I see all these as Tools to fix problems.. if there isn't any.. keep them out of the signal chain..."


    That is info I love to have, thank you!
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I rarely process VSTi .. EQ, reverb maybe.. They are often pre-mixed. Of course if a piano player has a very wide dynamic range in his playing, I might use a compressor but it rarely happens. That's the thing, I reach for those Tools only if I hear a problem...

    So yes, gates are used more on instruments recorded with a mic. But they are not needed all the time. If recorded in a nice sounding room, bleeds can be a good thing. It makes the sound more alive and natural. I rarely gate my drums when I record myself. When I do need to use a gate, I rarely remove the signal completly also.. The best thing is to control things so that the actual instrument doesn't sound bad. If you gate too much you might cut sustained notes or remove a room sound abrutly which in the end will sound weird and worse...
    Another aspect of bleed is that one adjustment on a track may affect other instruments. You see if I eq a mic that has bleed, it affects the main instrument but also the bleed instrument...
    This is why mic placement is so important, if you're able to make the bleeds sound good as well as the instrument the mic points to, you're a winner.
    If the placement and mic choice is done right, you won't have to EQ much and that way you're saved from screwing things up with small mixing moves.

    If you care about such a thing, there is a few video done by Fab Dupont on youtube where he does a complet mic setup, recording and mixing..
     
    audiokid likes this.
  8. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I rarely use gates in the studio. Editing and automation generally sound better. Tracking so the bleed is minimal or even sounds good is the ideal. I'm more likely to use gates when mixing live, and then only on things that are problematic, like a kick that's feeding back when it's not being played.
     
  9. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I find expanders to sound better than traditional gates on many sources. Gates have a set amount of reduction that kicks in below the threshold. Expanders reduce gain by a ratio, just like a compressor.
     
  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Location:
    Lowell Massachusetts
    I've never seen or heard of that....

    Which is probably why I don't even recall ever using an expander.
     

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