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Compression principals

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Hey guys,


In general, how many db of gain reduction should be applied to an instrument or drum track before it starts to sounding over compressed ("pumping"). Is there a the rule of thumb when applying compression?


How many db different between peaks does a track need before it requires automation rather than compression?


Many thanks,


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Compression can be used as an effect. It is also dependant on the audio being used, taste, style and genre. Therefore, you need to use your ears and brain to decide how much compression to use. (3-6dB gain reduction might be a good start for gentle control of individual channels, but I often use a lot more for some things, or none at all for others).
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There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account.

Generally compression is used to reduce the dynamic range of your track so it sits easier in the mix so your compression settings will depend on the dynamic range of our source material and what you're trying to do with it.

You may want to add some character to the sound..fatten it up or increase/decrease the attack or sustain.

If your track has a lot of sub bass that you can't hear very well your compressor will hear it and that can cause pumping

I use compression with automation all the time. I apply compression to even things out but if there's still a few bits jabbing out I'll just use automation to refine it. You could lower the threshold/increase the ratio but then you end up changing the sound or risk over compressing just to get at a few peaks that could just be smoothed out with some automation.

Use your ears and watch your level meters, that will give you a good starting point to where you should set your compressor's parameters.

Hope that helps


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