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How do you compress that much?!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Petary791, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I'm mainly speaking at Tony Levin and Les Claypool. I've been listening to some Liquid Tension, and somebody told me he uses 8 compressors. Wow. I've been listening to some Oysterhead and Claypool sounds like he compresses a ton. So my question is, how can you compress that much? Is it neccessary to have 8 compressors?
  2. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    8 compressors?! That's insane.

    From what I gather TLev. has been using Analogman's Bi-Comp for a while now and I think the Retrospec Squeeze Box 'back in the day'. Not sure about The Colonel, but something tells me that those Carl Thompson's are pretty compressed sounding on their own?
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    No it isn't! (eight? Is THAT what they said?? It might be one of those freaky Akai multi-band compressors - I don't know how many channels that broke it up into...).

    Anyway - I get - and USE - TONS of compression on my setup. It's: Boss CS-3 to Aphex Big Bottom (which is a low-freq compressor, which is part of the Bass Xciter). Freaky clacking fretboard-tapping (especially-clacky because you can BOOST treble on the CS-3 AND on the Xciter), huge kick-TICK-sound on plectrum-plucked notes, and infinite-sustain acoustic string feedback are all mine.

    Then there's the distortion: Oh Baby.

    With all that gain, I couldn't do it without having it all in the loop of my trusty-amazing Boss NS-2 Noise Supressor! ...I'm posting a clip one of these days; I'm tellin' y'all: You'll wanna be like me.

    Now it was not-long ago that I first tried a rack compressor in my GK head-loop. I'm gonna look into that a little more - that'd bring me up to THREE, anyway...

  4. he probably doesn't use them all at once, he probably has them at different settings and kicks them in as he needs them.
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I don't know what he uses but it's some serious ****.
    His tone is as thick and compact as a brick wall.
  6. FunkyLemz

    FunkyLemz Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    How can you tell the sound of a compressed bass?
  7. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Exactly. I saw TLev's rack with two drawers of effects pedals mounted in it, and three of them were Retrospec compressors, each with a different setting, each one used separately at a different time, through a Bradshaw switching system. He does use the Analogman now, though.
  8. His funky fingers tone is squeezed to within an inch of it's life, his fretless tone is somewhat less and his fretted tone is less again. At least, that's how it sounds.

    I don't think anyone can really describe the sound of a compressed bass in a way that will make sence to someone who has no idea what a compressed bass sounds like. Sorry, FunkyLemz. There's only one thing for it - use your ears. Know any engineers? Ask them a favour, get them to show you. Otherwise, study Tony Levins bass tone on Peter Gabriels "Steam."
  9. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Great question. It took me a while to figure it out. It just sounds "smooshed" and "compacted." Listen to the song "Thela Hun Ginjeet" by King Crimson and "Little Faces" by Oysterhead then go and listen to some Sum-41. There's quite a difference.
  10. dadodetres


    Dec 19, 2004
    i should try this before saying it, but i dont have my rig here:

    maybe with a VERY LOW treshhold and a VERY HIGH gain ?!?!?

    also sending a EXTREMLY HOT signal to the comp?
  11. FunkyLemz

    FunkyLemz Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    So when something is not compressed wouldn't it just sound normal to me? Can you think of anything else besides Crimson that is heavily compressed? Sorry, but I dont own any of their albums.
  12. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    Listen to the outro guitar solo on "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin. It almost sounds like a keyboard becuase the attack charactertic of a guitar with pick is compressed out. Jimmy Page got that effect by running his guitar through two compressors.

    The best compression lesson you can get is to go to your local music store and play around with a compressor.
  13. Dugz Ink

    Dugz Ink

    Oct 23, 2005
    Yes, uncompressed sounds normal. As in, strings that have attack and decay. A real pro can compress a guitar without making it sound unnatural.

    But most people just crush the audio until it's flat... kind of like running over a squirrel with a Mack truck. And a lot of people just crank the knobs until they boost everything, even the frigging hiss from the amp.

    Compression is like sex; some people treat it like art in motion, some just pound away, and some think they're pros just because they got some. And if you don't have any, you want a lot.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Sorry Joe, but the Aphex Big Bottom is not a compression circuit.
  15. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    What?! that's what I thought they called it in my owner's manual; that along with this 'frequency dependant phase shifter', or something like that.

    Well what IS it, then?

  16. Well, you should buy one because new music is the shizzit - even if you think you won't like it. All that I'm saying... is give fresh music a chance! (not that 80's crimson is that fresh I guess, but at least it's got integrity!)

    I mentioned Peter Gabriels "Steam" because I thought it would be easy to lay your hands on that song. Also, the bass is almost ridiculously compressed on that song, and in fact Tonys sound is always pretty squeezed.

    Others have mentioned Les Claypool. Just about any of his stuff will demonstrate it I guess, but some songs more than others.

    In reality there's hardly a producer in the world that would track an album without compressing the bass - it's just that some artists use it as more than just a utility - they use it to shape their signature sound. Tony Levin is just an exemplary example of this.

    Oh, and to say uncompressed bass sounds "normal" is like saying the ocean has big boobs. It just doesn't make sence. "Normal" is impossible to define, but more than likely "normal" to you is what you hear coming from your CD player or on the radio - both of which are compressed. In fact, radio program is HEAVILY compressed by multiple methods.
  17. Dugz Ink

    Dugz Ink

    Oct 23, 2005
    "Normal" bass: it's natural sound ... when you can hear the normal decay of the sound as the vibration of the string slowly decreases to a near zero level. And that's what I hear when I pluck a string on my acoustic bass or my electric bass, not what I hear on heavily-processed CDs.

    And I understand what most radio stations do to audio; I spent a third of my life in Radio, and most of that was spent learning how to adjust, maintain, and repair the gear that sends what you hear to the antenna array. But I set my compressors so you couldn't hear what they did to the audio. That's an art.

    A lot of players (but not all) don't know the fine art of tweaking the knobs to get a "signature" sound; they just compress something until it doesn't have any dynamics. Then they say "So-and-so always compresses the h*** out of his stuff" without learning the finer points.

    Which puts them in a completely different category than the great producers who know how to use the right settings to bring out the sound that they want for each instrument. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and grapes.
  18. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Uhh - well sure; that's why they call'em "great Producers". Else they'd just be called.. uh - "Folks" or something.

    What I can't help but thinking, though, is that when it comes to mixing, NOT having a skilled producer is all-the-more reason FOR intentionally over-compressing tracks?

    I mean I'm pretty sure that it takes a better producer to make a mix sound good with little compression, than with much. ..Well now that I think about it: of course the compression has to be within reason; I mean reasonably slow attacks and fast releases and whatnot.

    With the Classic Rock trio that I'm in, I produced (really more-like 'engineered') the Demo. Because I don't have delusions about how good I am (pretty good, I think; not 'great', for sure), I recorded something like nine or twelve Decibels-worth of six-or-so-to-one analog compression (and NO EQing, except for highpass at the preamp; before the cheap compressors) on every track. So many people have said that this is a super-sounding record - and hey: it just-DOES sound pretty-darn good! We (me and the drummer, who's studio it is - but I designed it) even sat and A-B'ed our demo with the demo that his previous band had made with a local pro (I mean he was in the Yellow Pages). Our's totally slayed it, and I was pointing out to to Joel how "see? There's not enough compression!" What I more-meant, I guess, was "...not enough for there being a hack like me or him at the console!"

    Know what I mean?

  19. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    The only way to truely know what compression is all about is to try out a compressor. I always though compression wasn't essential at all and just nitpicking at tone... I was totally wrong! It basically makes you sound 10x better.... sort of. :D