1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Compression required for good recording?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Smallmouth_Bass, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    To make a decent (rock) band recording and have a good mix, is compression required on bass? Is there a way to use it and be effective without sounding squished?
  2. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    it's not necessary to use a compressor pedal or effect while recording. Compress the bass track in your DAW if you find that your levels are jumping around too much or if the notes are dying out early and you want more sustain to them. Studio compressors can do their job in most cases without making the source sound squished at all. Analog tape naturally compresses dynamics, digital media doesn't.
    If you're using a DI box, you'll probably sound better with compression. If you're mic'ing an amp that's turned up loud, you'll be getting compression from that and maybe not need anything at mix time.
  3. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've tried a couple of compressors in the past and found the I didn't really like what they did to the sound. The best, most useable setting for me, were when the "effect" was barely noticeable. But then you think, why use one at all?
  4. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    Barely noticeable is usually the right amount of compression.

    Careful use of compression can make or break a recording. You're trying to make sure that you don't have your levels, or those of any other instrument, bouncing around too much or you'll be too loud one note and too quite the next. We'd rather have attention stay on the song and not be on the unevenness of the bassline's steady pulsing groove.

    For recording, as stated above, compressing in the DAW is best since your engineer can go back and change the settings as needed after all the other instruments/layers are in place.
  5. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    I think it depends on the bass. My Ric needs little to none, but my violin bass needs quite a bit (especially with the DI box as noted).

    Whenever possible, we'll add it to a track in post when we do the mixdown. More important (to us anyway) that the overall track sounds good.

    Been several occassions where I've listened to my isolated bass trax and thought they sounded like sh_t, but in the context of the song, they sit perfectly in the mix.
  6. Depends. Victor Wooten claims not to have any on his recordings.
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
  8. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    I have read interviews where BassAce Leland Sklar has said the same thing about his bass.... But it always sounds great when it is in the track

  9. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    This. In a well-done mix, the bass will likely be treated differently when it is exposed vs. "busy" parts of the track, and during the busy parts compression and distortion are commonly used to help it remain audible. When soloed it can sound pretty bad.

    And then there's the whole issue of group/bus compression, 2-bus compressors, mastering compressors, etc...
  10. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    i use mine like a limiter, adjusting the threshold so the compressor only clamps down on the peaks, while using a high ratio so when it does kick in, its pretty level. i found compressing the whole signal can make it sound spongy, and if its done right in the studio, it may not sound spongy but looses its balls. and when i am playing quietly the compressor opens up, ruining any dynamics and i have to play lighter than i normally would increasing the chances of making a mistake. i use the attack and release on fast, the ratio somewhere between +6-8, and just turn up the threshold enough to clip off the big notes from getting louder than all the rest, and also make my strings an even volume with each other. see if it might work for you.
  11. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    if your using a cranked svt, you dont need one. the amp is already compressing for you. its optional.
  12. Tractorr


    Aug 23, 2011
    Depends on what you want to get.

    There are many, many classic records that have almost no compression at all.

    On the other hand, if you are talking modern rock radio then there is compression on almost everything.

    Give us some bands that are in the same general vicinity as your band and we might be more helpful.

    One thing that some compressors have is a low pass filter on the compression circuit that way the low frequencies don't trigger the compression only the mids and highs do. This is one way to keep compression from sounding "squishy." I am kind of surprised that more bass compressor pedals don't have this control, but I suppose pedals that are specifically made for bass are designed with lows in mind.
  13. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    I recently found a great resource for recording called "Recording Revolution.com" The revolution in this case being the affordable home studio world we live in today. It's run by Graham Cochrane, who does mixing for a living in Florida. I really like his style and down to earth real world approach. Here are a few links for related articles and a video.

    "Quick Tips for Fatter Bass" video:

    "Do You Need an Outboard Compressor" article

    I hope this helps in some way.:hyper:
  14. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Which was going to be my next question: should you lay down a track with the compression on it or add it later with the software? I like the idea of being able to tweak it later without being too committed.
  15. Tractorr


    Aug 23, 2011
    If you do add compression on the way in to the computer do it very lightly. It is really hard to undo compression.
  16. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    Adding it after the fact is your best option (and our preferred approach FWIW), because...

  17. prd004


    Dec 3, 2010
    Compression is a weird effect. To the untrained ear, if you can hear it, you're probably using too much.

    I wouldn't deem it necessary, I've laid plenty of tracks without it, but tastefully used it can add a lot.
  18. 3506string


    Nov 18, 2004
    Lawton, OK
    I would say don't compress for compression sake. When you first start recording, there's all sorts of terminology thrown about as a necessity. Compression is one of them. From individual tracks, to buses, to muti-band compression on master tracks. There is all sorts of places you can use compression.

    I found myself doing this when I first started recording. The track sounds good but there is no compression. So I slap compression on tracks. Problem was I didn't fully understand compression, or compressors for that matter and end up killing a reasonably decent mix. I'd say spend some time scouring the web researching compression. The more you understand how and when to use them, the better compression will benefit your song.
  19. bass whaler

    bass whaler

    Dec 27, 2012
    Compressor not required in recording studios. Only if you are using hard core old school 100% pure analog recording gear. Bass Whaler
  20. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    When in doubt, leave the compressor out. I have recorded many different bass players and rarely ever use any compression when I record them. If you need to compress the bass, it's better to use it when you are mixing. That way you always have the original uncompressed bass track if you decide you want to remix the song. Just remember...if you record the bass with compression, there is no way to "uncompress" the bass.