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Percieved loudness differences and compressors


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How do you deal with this scenario, you have a piece of audio that dynamically needs some work, sorting out the actual dynamics isn't an issue but with some audio say for e.g. a modulation heavy synth line there are parts of it that are more harmonically rich than others.

 

So when you compress it certain parts become louder but as the actual dynamics start to be more sensible you've now made the more harmonically rich parts even louder. So it still ends up sounding dynamically un-even.

 

its easy to say Eq it etc but it is a real difficult thing to do if its sounding exactly as you want it tone wise, I've also tried a multi pressor and used different compression settings on the offending area but that seems to sound worse and I've tried everything from gentle to extreme.

 

BTW this isn't a problem I'm having with one sound, its something I notice with a lot of modulated sounds especially sounds that don't have a repetitive characteristic more so with sounds that move and evolve.

 

Ive tried volume automation too but then I'm screwing up the actual dynamics which then takes up headroom in random places. There must be a way ....

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The added harmonics from compression comes from the distortion. You can lower the inter-modulation distortion by using slower attack and especially slower release times.

 

Using a compressor that offers an inverse opto characteristic or similar gain reduction dependent semi-automatic release you can lower the ratio below approximately 1.3:1 and dig the threshold deep into the material to act as a type of AGC. The Waves Renaissance Compressor has the Electro circuit which does just that with these settings, but it also adds a fair amount of harmonics to the total signal.

 

Another option is to use parallel compression. You'll change the dynamics by lifting the low level signals up, but adding relatively little to the loud parts, unlike regular compression. So this could solve your problem on paper. However, parallel compression often requires very fast attack settings and fairly quick release times, so you'll get lots of harmonics in the parallel signal. An advanced alternative to this is linear phase multiband parallel compression which can be used to shape the parallel signal and therefore reduce the upper harmonics added during loud parts. You can use this article I wrote as a starting point: http://en.wikiaudio.org/Logic:Parallel_multiband_compression

 

The last option is to use a true upward compressor, which is quite similar in sound to parallel compression or low-threshold-low-ratio ratio compression, but unlike parallel compression isn't relative in the same way but it can still be quite invisible. The Flux Solera can do true upward compression with the so-called de-expansion algorithm. The sound of upward compression isn't as controlled as regular compression in the sense that it doesn't control the peaks, rather it raises on the low level signals, e.g. the tails and valleys.

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Thanks, there are couple of things there for me to try, I guess I would need to consider using all of them (not at once :D)as I guess some will work better for some material etc etc

 

Adding harmonics to the total signal is not a problem I can just ease off one of the plugins to compensate whether its distortion from the synth itself or a tube plug. I pretty much always have at least one source of distortion somewhere.

 

Unfortunately I don't have any Flux products but the upward compression sounds promising too, as its the compression of the peaks thats causing the issue. On that note, I even tried automating the volume, bounced and then used a compressor so the compressor wouldn't hit the "loud" bits as hard but thats a lot of work and still didn't sound too great :oops:

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