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PA Compression

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Laserman, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Guys,

    Do any of You use a Compressor on your PA system? If so, what brand and model, what do You use it for , what settings do you use to achieve that need and how do you hook it up into your system. I was gonna use a compressor on my mains with a gentle setting , more of a limiter use. Mine is a Berringer unit that I want to replace asap with a BBE or DBX unit. I can't seem to get insert cables to work. Either there's a problem with the mixer, bad Insert cable, or using it wrong. I'd hate to use the main outputs instead of the main inserts.

  2. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    How large gigs do you play / how much of your FOH sound comes from amps, drums and monitors on stage (i.e. sound leaking from the stage) / how much do you need to amplify your sound?

    I haven't used a main compressor for the whole mix, but I have a feeling that if I did use one, the sound from the stage would have to be minimized - no loud amps or so - to actually have a good use for the compressor/limiter. I used to have a compressor on the insert on the lead vocal channel, but in loud rock songs, especially the guitarist and drummer played harder, making the lead vocals drown in the mix as they didn't become louder thanks to the compressor, though I also was singing louder in the rock songs than in the other ones...

    I think the bigger the gig, the more reason to have a main compressor.
  3. Wish I knew more about compression, or had more experience with it.

    Over the years, gigging with different drummers, I often thought it would be nice to use some type of limiter or compressor on the kick drum. Some drummers have a pretty consistent foot, yet others (during a dynamic part of a song or song ending) would try to shove their foot through the floor. Thus over-taxing the subs. Makes a horrible sound and drivers don't tolerate that for long.
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    We have around 10 channels of compression for a 24 channel system, if you count limiters. On most gigs I mix we use 4-5 channels: inserts on kick, bass, and a couple on either the whole vocal bus (in stereo) or on individual channels. We have limiters built into the speaker management system too, but they're just brickwalled at the upper limit that we're comfortable running the system at.

    I tend to be very conservative with settings, rarely going above 3:1 and keeping the threshold pretty high. Mostly I'm just trying to squash big peaks a bit so I can run the whole system fairly hot without distortion. On the kick I'll occasionally use it to gate and/or breathe a bit if the band wants that. In general, less is more though, in my world.

    Brands? Alesis, BBE, and then Peavy for the speaker management system. If I had my way we'd be using something a bit more uptown, but what we have works OK for our modest 300 seater. I use an old Symetrix unit on my personal PA system, and it's a lot nicer sounding than what's in the club.

    IMO, you definitely need to figure out why you can't get the inserts to work. What board are you using?
  5. I use compression via channel inserts on the kick, snare, and one vocal mic. The kick and snare are used more like a gate.

    I have a DBX 166xl and a Alesis 3630 which is widely regarded as piece of crap and nice door stop.
  6. Hi, Barry.

    8 comps on 20 channels. 2 pieces of Behringer 4 channel ones, not great, but gets the work done.

    Trust Your ears when learning to use the compressor. If You have a keyboard or a sequencer, put it in a loop and try to do a subtle compression on that first.

    If the inserts aren't working the board isn't worth a crap IMHO. You do know that there's two ways of doing it: tip-send, ring-return and ring-send, tip-return. I prefer ring-send as one can send the signal to a multitrack for example if there's no splitters available.

  7. Sam,

    My Board is a behringer MX2442A with 16 XLR inputs, 6 sends and 4 subgroups. I bought it off ebay real cheap. The inserts work on the individual channels but I can't get the main inserts to function for the left and right main out. I wanted to use the compressor to lightly limit the mains from loud drum hits, bass notes ect. I can always come out of the Mains into the compressor and off to the poweed cabs. I'd rather use the inserts because I also run duel 15 band EQ and a BBE on the mains as well.

  8. OK Guys,

    I got the inserts on the mains working. Cool, now I just have to figure out if I want to lightly compress/ limit the Mains on the PA or Just the Bass Drum & Snare. Thanks

  9. Hi, Barry.

    Good that You got them working.

    I'd process the individual channels, not the mains. That way the dynamic range of the other instruments aren't restricted just because of the drums. And the main inserts are freed for other applications.


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