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Compression

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by count_funkula, Nov 5, 2001.


  1. Could someone explain what compression actually does for your sound. I have compression built in to my Carvin R600 head but I don't really know how to use it. It has a threshold and a ratio knob.

    Please explain.
     
  2. it evens out your tones and keep you all together. a light amount can really impact your sound, clarity, pressence, and impact. Im sure someone here has a better true definition of compression or if you used the cool little microscope button above to search you will surely fine much info on this "effect"
     
  3. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    Compression essentially makes your soft notes louder and your loud notes softer. It sets a defined range of how loud or soft the signal can get, and then adjusts what you put in accordingly. Slappers like compression because it keeps their signal from being too "spikey" and prevents clipping. A little bit of compression will smooth out your dynamics and make your sound a little punchier, and a LOT of compression will just make it sound squished, IMO.

    The threshold is when the compressor kicks in. It's the imaginary line that says "if the input goes above THIS given level, I, the compressor, will start to work my magic." (Ooo... first person compressors...)

    Ratio is a control that affects exactly how much compression is used. I'm not sure about how your amp is labled, but usually it's a number system. For example, a compression ratio of 8:1 means that for every 8 decibals of input ABOVE the threshold, the output will only be increased 1 decibal.
     
  4. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Now, if someone could just explain a chorus effect to me -- I think mine's broken or something (turns chorus over and over in his hand and scratches his head).
     
  5. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    I've heard varying defintions of a chorus pedal, but this is how I've heard it explained:

    A chorus pedal is trying to reproduce the sound of a "chorus" of bass players, somewhat like an orchestra. In an orchestra, not everyone is playing in the exact same pitch. So if a person thinks they are playing A=440, ,they might really be A=441, or some ridiculously small amount off of pitch like that.

    SO, what a chorus pedal does is this: It splits the signal into many signals and then varies the pitch and timing of them, and adds them to the original signal, creating a shimmery, liquidy kind of effect. It's hard to describe.
     
  6. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Mine must be broken then. Is it most appropriate to use it during the choruses of a given song, as the name would imply? I bought the damn thing, but use my Overdrive during solos and choruses, to make my sound "fuller."

    count_funkula: Sorry I bogarted your thread, dude.
     
  7. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Dude, my question was, "Is it most often used during the choruses (it is called a chorus pedal)?" I know that one wouldn't have to only use it during the choruses. Sheesh! You take me for someone who buys pedals frivolously and then wonders what they do! Wait a minute.....d'oh!
     
  8. phil_chew

    phil_chew

    Mar 22, 2000
    Asia
    Actually, I think a chorus effect is most often used during a bass solo. It is then that it stands out.
     
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Not too bad an explanation EXCEPT "splitting into many signals". This is not true.

    How it works is the original signal is delayed slightly and then the original and delayed signals are mixed back together. What keeps it from just sounding like an echo is that the actual time delay is being varied by an oscillator, this is what the rate (how fast the delay changes) and depth (how much it changes) controls are for.

    Flanging is actually the same thing, it's just that the time delay is shorter for flanging than for chorusing.
     
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    A compressor is a VOLTAGE CONTROLLED AMPLIFIER.

    Imagine that as you play you have a friend adjusting the volume knob on your amplifier. The quieter you play your bass, the more he turns the knob up, the louder you play the bass the more he turns it down.

    Now let's make a circuit that senses the amplifier input and as the input increases, it automatically decreases the gain (volume) of the amplifier for you.

    The "threshold" on a compressor tells the circuit when to start making the adjustments, the "ratio" indicates how much it should compress. For a ratio of 2:1 for example, every 2 dB increase in input yields only 1 dB increase in output. What is known as limiting is compression with an INFINITE ratio, meaning that above the threshold, any change in the input yields NO change in the output.

    What this is used for:

    --> even out the volume (good for slapping)
    --> increase sustain
    --> can add punch to the sound
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Alternatively, Compression can :

    - Drain all the life out of your sound
    - Get rid of all those carefully-worked out dynamics in your performance
    - Be a substitute for learning to play properly
    - Be the sound man's (engineer's) revenge for daring to play interesting basslines
    - Make drums sound like cardboard boxes!

    etc. etc. ;)
     
  12. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin

    Sounds good, though. :D Thanks for the correction.
     
  13. I have used one for 10 years and I have never found 1 of these things to be true. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You haven't got out enough! :D
     
  15. Did I just get told that I don't get out enough by someone with over 5000 post?:confused: :p
     
  16. compression is good in a light sense. Overdue it and you will get all those problems that mr 5000 posts talked about. Lets all be friends here.

    oh and i was going to make a sarcastic joke about using a chorus pedal during a chorus but then i was beaten to it... BUT NOT AS A JOKE :rolleyes: why does everyone think that... im going to make the verse pedal. it will totally suck your tone... cut your mids... and detune your bass to about A or so... EVERYONE WILL WANT TO PLAY DURING THEIR VERSES!
     
  17. NO IT DOES NOT IMPLY IT SHOULD BE USED IN THE CHORUS

    ever heard one person sing...
    ever heard a CHORUS of people sing...
    ahhh isnt that better :cool:

    there is NO EFFECT that should be played in certain parts of song no matter what the name of it is... :rolleyes:
     
  18. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Okay, okay! So a damn chorus pedal doesn't get used during the chorus of a song. The name doesn't infer or suggest that it be used during the chorus of a song. I admit that I am a total ass-boob and I should have to sit in the corner for 20 minutes, while I contemplate my ignorance of effects and their uses.

    I don't need four freakin' people to tell me how wrong I am. Once was plenty.
     
  19. Yup, compression tends to be poorly understood by a lot of sound engineers. But...sometimes horrendous amounts of compression needs to be applied to bass players who can't play or have horrific sounds/equipment. I've been on both sides of the console an compression is definately a double edged sword. The right amount and type of compression can add a bit of "sonic glue" to a mix and make things sound tighter and give some really nice presence. Used incorrectly, all the things that Bruce said, can and do happen. Want an example of poor use of compression? Just listen to the radio. Pop radio especially. All radio stations compress severly but pop stations compress the living **** out of music that has already had the living **** compressed out of it. 0 dynamics. awful. I heard Steely Dan's "Jack of Speed" on the way to a gig on the radio, when I got to the gig I put my cd on the PA (great PA tuning disc BTW). Totally different sound, especially the snare and vocals. Another example of poor use of compressors: A colleague of mine who mixes a VERY popular national act compresses EVERY channel, then cranks the output gains of the comps up to get level. This works until the band finishes a song. The compressors stop compressing because the input levels are below threshold and then the overall system gain increases by 10 dB because the outputs of the comps are cranked. Pow! Feedback everywhere. He curses and swears, etc. I tried to explain it to him, but he didn't wanna listen. Oops, this was supposed to be a short reply, It's turned into quite a rant:D:p