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Compression questions.

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Shearstown, Feb 25, 2006.


  1. Shearstown

    Shearstown

    Oct 15, 2005
    I'm a newbie to the concept so i've got a few.



    What exactly is compression?
    What does it do?
    How does it work?
    Do I need one for recording?
    Will it cut the hum on my mexican jazz?
     
  2. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    It bassically places you in a smaller space, volume-wise:
    When your volume goes above a certain amount (threashold) it's lowered by an amount (ratio). Only the volume above the threshold is affected, though some units start to compress before the then. So, if you have a threashold of 10dB and a ratio of 5:1 then if your volume hits 15dB the dB out of the comp is 11. you could then use a gain make-up device (booster) to increase the volume back to 15. This makes your low-volumes seem higher, while you high volumes seem the same (giving you more sustain in the proccess). BTW most compressors have the make-up gain thing built-in.
    Everyone has a pref. I don't use one, but my SansAmp PDDI compresses a little anyway...
    If anything it will increase it. try a Noise Suppressor like the Boss NS-2 (I have one, it works wonders).
     
  3. Shearstown

    Shearstown

    Oct 15, 2005
    I've heard those also given the term expander.
     
  4. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    Same dif.

    Still, if your looking to silence your bass (when your not playing, of course), the NS is what you need....
     
  5. dunamis

    dunamis

    Aug 2, 2004
    Charlotte
    They're not the same.

    "Only signals below the threshold are processed by the expander, whereas a compressor processes only those signals that rise above the threshold. In most instances, expanders are used as a gentler alternative to gating, but they may also be used to increase the dynamic range of over-compressed material."

    Quote from Sound-on-sound.

    Google is *amazing*.:p
     
  6. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Tell the guys in the band to "pare con la tararea".





    ("quit humming") :rolleyes:
     
  7. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Oh yeah, about the expander thing- you have probably seen rack units that were labeled "compressor-expanders", but that's because they contain both (separate) functions. The functions are opposite, as dunamis says.

    Compression is an important part of the recording process; every tune you hear on a CD or the radio have been through many stages of compression. But you generally don't "need" a compressor while recording. It is easy to compress a track later if you want to, but difficult to un-compress if that's what you start with.
     
  8. Compress with pizzazz, my good man. I've got different compression settings for different guitars, but typically I use the compressor to cover sloppy playing technique, in that, I can whip the living piss out of my bass, and keep it pretty even.

    In all seriousness, the compressor does help to add punch, and if you have really sensitive pickups, it can really keep volume levels from going everwhere. At the same time there is such a thing as over-compression. I personally like the dynamic I get between the compressor and my EMG-equipped guitar. It ends up, if I max out the compressor, making my axe sound like a chromatic kick drum. It's crazy.

    Essentially, the main purpose of a compressor is to keep you volume levels "squashed" so that they aren't all over the place. It is especially nice on slap bass, which tends to send volume on an erratic crash course. You can have some fun with 'em.
     
  9. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    You basically never hear a recording that hasn't had compression added. Some bass sounds--like, say James Jamerson--depend on a lot of compression. I hear a lot of compression in Marcus Miller's sound. To some extent it compensates for sloppy playing, and a lot of slappers use them to protect their gear from big vol. spikes.

    A good compressor is sometimes hard to detect--I think of it as like the finish to your sound, or like a little icing on the cake. As said before, a compressor takes volume spikes and knocks them down so all youre playing is at close to the same level. If you get it right you sound more "punchy"--tighter, fatter. A compressor can add some of the quaility you get from an all tube amp--the "sag" that comes when you hit a note hard and there's a bit of delay or "give" before the note reaches full volume-hard to explain, it's kind of a feel thing.

    A good compressor should be close to transparent--you should sound exactly the same, but with more even volume
     
  10. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Some of the most famous compressors are anything but transparent. I personally hate transparent compressors, and love the way some compressors crunch my bass tone to bits. My definition of a good compressor, for bass anyway, has more to do with how it affects my tone, not how cleanly it limits my peaks. Just another opinion, and yet one more bit of information to confuse a compression newbie :)

    I understand that tons of people, slap and upright players especially, want a compressor that leaves absolutely no artifacts or even a hint that they're there, but I'm not one of them.
     
  11. ...I use the compressor on my five-string like an "effect". It smashes it until it sounds like a kick drum.
     
  12. dunamis

    dunamis

    Aug 2, 2004
    Charlotte
    I agree with both sides on this one. Compression can play a legitimate role in either case-- transparent "smoothing" or as an effect ("squashing").

    IMO, these are 2 different devices though. I haven't found one compressor yet that can do a decent job of both.

    Leveling amp type comps (Demeter Compulator, UA LA-2A, and even a cheap ART Levelar) are, IMO, better for the the former case ("smoothing" and reduction of overall dynamic range). They are (again, JMHO), more transparent and easier to set up since they most often combine the threshold and ratio functions in one knob.

    I'm not as familiar with devices for the latter purpose ("squashing"), as I don't use this effect.

    Just my $.01 (would be $.02 I guess If I knew more about the squahers!:D ).

    Peace,

    Matt
     
  13. bassman_2_1

    bassman_2_1

    Dec 31, 2005
    what compressors are you crazy bass players using? could anyone recomend a really nice one?
     
  14. dunamis

    dunamis

    Aug 2, 2004
    Charlotte
  15. dunamis

    dunamis

    Aug 2, 2004
    Charlotte

    Oh OK, since you asked nicely, and I know that nobody likes a wise-guy (see my last post:oops: ), here's a recommendation for a really nice one (literally):

    http://www.fmraudio.com/RNC1773.HTM

    :D

    Seriously, though-- I don't have one of these, but I have heard many good reviews. Some say the RNC competes favorably against studio compressors costing many times more.

    Peace,

    Matt
     
  16. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The Answer.