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What exactly is compression?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Nickthebassist, Aug 30, 2004.


  1. Can anyone explain it in simple terms?
     
  2. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Compressors are commonly used in recording to control the level, by making loud passages quieter, and quiet passages louder. This is useful in allowing a vocalist to sing quiet and loud for different emphasis, and always be heard clearly in the mix.
    Compression is generally applied to guitar to give clean sustain, where the start of a note is "squashed" with the gain automatically increased as the not fades away. Compressors take a short time to react to a picked note, and it can be difficult to find settings that react quickly enough to the volume change without killing the natural attack sound of your guitar.

    [​IMG]

    Common controls are:

    Sensitivity sets the level above which volume is cut, and below which volume is boosted. This is usually achieved simply by increasing the internal gain, so it really controls the amount of perceived sustain.
    Attack controls how fast the unit responds to volume increases
    Decay controls how slowly the unit responds to decreasing volume
    Tone is often provided to compensate for perceived treble loss, which is actually caused by the smoother volume dynamics (there is no internal treble cut)
    Volume (sometimes labelled Level) to allow you to set a level to match the general loudness when the effect is bypassed.


    From: http://users.chariot.net.au/~gmarts/fx-desc.htm#Cmp
     
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Ok, so you have a signal that hasn't the same volume all the time, but gets louder and then more quiet again. A compressor is like an automated volume knob that makes the quiet parts a little louder and the louder parts a little more quiet. So, the differences in volume are smaller now than without compressor.
     
  4. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    That's the upside, the down side is,,, sometimes it can kill your intentional dynamics.
     
  5. Tplyons has the nutshell answer in his reply:

    "Compressors are commonly used in recording to control the level, by making loud passages quieter, and quiet passages louder."

    Compressors can smooth out a slap bass part or really fatten up the bass in a mix.
     
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i use a dbx compressor between my preamp and poweramp - i have it set to only compress (lower the volume of) the loudest notes i play - too much and you sound "sqashed" i use it at this point of the signel chain to catch any extreme bass boost i might have to protect the speakers, typically people use it 1st in the signal chain, but i like this better
     
  7. Can a compresser give the bass more punch?
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Define "punch" ? :meh:
     
  9. Warwick punch. ya know, listen to, hmmmmmm, ok, How You Remind Me by Nickelback. the bass is really punchy in the verses. Will it make a normal bass have that kinda punch, or is the warwick on that track compressed aswell?
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Hmm .. Nickelback...I would define that tone as "nasty" !! ;)

    Seriously though - it is a big mistake to pick recordings and try to identify what made that bass sound! :meh:

    So - most commercial recordings were made using gear that cost millions and were mixed over several months - carefully tweaking the whole mix to get the best overall sound in context - with producer, band and engineers working on "scuplting" the sound painstakingly!

    To think you can get anything like that, with a cheap pedal and any type of basic live setup.....well, it just 'aint gonna happen!! :meh:
     
  11. It's definetly a growly sound. And How You Remind me is commerical, but summit like Just For isnt, but the same growly tone is still there.