This week I worked on better understanding compression, because I want to begin mastering my own tracks better.
Compression is a very interesting thing. There’s many types of compression that are used for various different purposes. The overall purpose of a compressor is to increase the perceived volume of a song or aspect of a song. This is important because a big part of mixing and mastering a track is increasing the volume without botching the entire mix or distorting the track. I’m going to run through all the different types of compression I use on a day to day basis.
Compression (regular/not special): a regular compressor works on anything. For example; I usually slap a compressor on my snares. Imagine compression as putting saran wrap over a piece of wood, having it real snug, almost blending in with the item itself. Compression works by increasing and decreasing the volume in short bursts, depending on what you set the threshold of the compressor to. For instance, I want my snares to get really loud but I only want them to be affected if they are quieter than 80 dB. This keeps the volumes of my snares nice and uniform without making them too loud.
Multiband compression: This is exactly the same thing as regular compression, except it’s broken into 3 parts (generally). Multiband compression breaks the job up and organizes it by what frequencies the sound has. For instance, an adult male voice talking is mostly mid and low range frequencies. However, you might want to pop the high end a bit so that the voice has more of an airy “ess” sound to it. In that case, you would set the compressor to increase more high end than low end. Essentially multiband compression is the hybrid of compression and equalization (boosting/cutting frequencies. Your car has an equalizer in it).
Limiting: Limiting is a tricky kind of compression. It works on a more loose shaped envelope. Instead of bursting the volume up or down if it hits a certain decibel, you can slide it up or down depending on how slow or fast you want the volume to increase. This can be troublesome if you don’t know what you’re doing. For example I could put a limiter with a quick envelope on my kick drum, and it would make a clipping noise because I increased the volume so quick that the envelope didn’t even fit the entire kick sound, just the beginning!
Those are the 3 kinds of compression I use on a day-to-day basis, and there are many more that I’m still learning, such as “Maximizing” or “Harmonic Excitement”
Favourite tracks this week:
This week I spent a lot of time in the art centre, so I decided I’d choose a few of my favourite tracks to make art to!
Sampha – Without – This one reminds me of a never ending sunset, which is when I like to draw the most.
Weird Inside – Little Angels – This song just makes me happy.
Mr. Carmack – Reference – The vibe on this track makes me draw cartoons or something.
PYRMDPLAZA – Sluush – A crazy track with incredible flow, this always gets me going.
Maurice Moore – C’est La Vie – With its semi-cynical upbeat flow, this song is perfect for slapping paint on a canvas or whatever and not really worrying about anything.