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Compression! What's your secret?

Discussion in 'Audio / Recording / Live' started by bassplayer22, Apr 22, 2008.

  1. bassplayer22

    bassplayer22

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    So I have been thinking about compression for a while and was curious to get yoour thoughts and trends when it comes to this subject, especially concerning the studio.

    I know what compression does, but I've never really heard anyone give me a straight answer when it comes to, "How much?".

    Do you guys use it when you play live as well?

    Thoughts?

    Tim
     
  2. alexander

    alexander

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    i always use it on stage and in the rehearsal room, but never when i practice alone at home (it makes you sound better than you actually are :lol: ). i use the aphex punch factory and put the drive knob between two and three out of ten. when i turn it higher it sounds aggressive, too thick and artificial. i like a clearer sound.
     
  3. boebl

    boebl

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    I try to adjust it that way that i don't really hear any difference when playing fingerstyle - most of the time that's enough to do what I really want it to do: Even the finger to slap loudness ratio a little bit.
    Also slap and pop doesn't sound to different then.

    Everything else doesn't suite my sound.
     
  4. Lex

    Lex Warwick Endorser

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    I don't use it live anymore... I used to quite a bit...

    As for the studio, whatever the engineer gives me!
     
  5. Michael J

    Michael J

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    I don't know a bloody thing about compression- but I never seem to like it when I have used it.
     
  6. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Hello Tim,

    The compression is a very tricky thing, and there is no way to make strict rules for a good compression. But I can tell you some safe rules :)

    First of all, how you use it. Why do you need a compressor? A compressor should be used as a creative tool, to improve the overall sound, not as a correction tool for a bad technique. So we suppose that the picking is already equal.
    There are bassists that are compressing pretty much the sound, even limiting (over 10:1 is called a limiter), for example Tony Levin with Peter Gabriel. But to do that you really must know what you do, you must know very well how a compressor works, frequencies, and how to play with a sound like that. It is not your case if you started this thread I suppose, tat's why I recommend you to use gentle settings.

    There are peak compressors vs rms compressors. Peak compressors are just cutting what is after the treshold, rms compressors will "hear" the average, in a more musical maner, so I'd chose a RMS compressor for my needs.
    Some compressors are soft knee, some of them are hard knee. Some says hard knee are better for bass guitar, I personally think that a soft knee compressor is better.

    Ratio: depending on what you want, something starting from 2:1 to 6:1. I use 4:1

    Attack. Now it is your taste. If you play in a very tight band, and the bass should be very well in it's place, you can use the fastest attack setting. I never use the fastest setting, just a little bit more, to have some of the bass's natural attack.

    Threshold. Set the threshold to have a minimum gain reduction when you play normal your bass. I set it in a way that the compressor is even not working when I play normal, but it's just at limit, so if I play a little harder, it starts compressing. The more you compress, the more altered is your sound. I know that some says that this compressor is perfect, and transparent, etc, but the truth is that all (or almost all) commpressors are eating your sound. It's their job after all...

    Release. set this depending really on the song you play. for a fast slap solo you need a fast release, for a ballad you need a long release. I use a medium release in live.
    For studio, record the bass uncompressed, the studio guy will know better what to do :)

    I hope it helps, Flo
     
  7. naetog

    naetog

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    EBS MultiComp.

    Can't really tell when it's on, but really can tell when it's off.

    It's mostly good for my slap/tap excursions to keep it all nice and tight sounding.
     
  8. bassplayer22

    bassplayer22

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    Flo, thanks for the informative response. This will help me tremendously and I appreciate it. I have never heard anyone break it down like this, and I have worked with some pretty smart engineers on some high dollar studio rigs. This is exactly what I was looking for.

    One more question for you.

    Hardware versus software compression?

    My last studio gig I used the Avalon DI-5, but I have used software compression as well. Does anyone know any good software compressor plug-ins for Pro Tools?

    Thanks!

    Tim
     
  9. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    I cannot give you a good answer, since I don't know all the studio stuff. But I think I saw some pretty good software compressors.
     
  10. Gman

    Gman

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  11. sjw1971

    sjw1971

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    Compression can be your friend or enemy. Like Florin said - it will mess with your tone quite a bit. To the good, it will fatten it up and ensure you have a consistent level. To the bad, you'll lose definition and articulation. Mistakes become way more evident and you lose some expression as well.

    I use a DBX unit in my rig. Through my SWR pre, I can blend it in through the effects loop. I blend about 30% of the compressed signal in when playing live. This seems to keep the sound natural while giving the bass a little more presence. In the studio, I stay away from the compression unless absolutely necessary. A good engineer will mix the song evenly and a great mastering tech will use high end multi-band compression to really put the bass in its proper sound spectrum and make it come alive.
     
  12. odominguez

    odominguez Guest

    AVALON 737 :D
     
  13. jinithith2

    jinithith2

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    I've tried an EBS multicomp, and it was subtle when I first turned it on, but when I turned it off, what a difference! I practice w/o a compressor so I can get my technique in line, and I generally turn the highest treble bands up on my EQ pedal so I can hear any buzzing induced by faulty finger placement. Since I hate treble so much, that gets me corrected reaaaal fast :D

    Rehearsals and live, I use compression to fatten up my G string and keep my B less boomy.
     
  14. gonzosc1

    gonzosc1

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    TC Electronics triple C compressor..
    this is the front end of my rig, run it into my sansamp psa preamp.
    I use it in multi band mode(3 band comp), I set it for peak compression only and kick in the soft limiter with it... this thing rocks if you can find one
     
  15. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

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    I use the DBX 166XL and love it. I just use a little compression so that when I go from finger style to popping there isn't huge volume jumps. I like how it keeps my sound level. To much compression sounds bad though, no dynamics.
     
  16. paperbag1213

    paperbag1213

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    I use a limiter, it's built into my amp
     
  17. Gman

    Gman

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    I only use one on recordings and don't bother live.
     
  18. Mako

    Mako

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    like billy sheehan says on a guitar amp if there is a button it would be distortion on/off and on a bass amp it would be compression because the clean tone of an instrument has a very big dynamic range
    how much compression depends on what style music you play. if you are a rock player you need compression to play loud and drive the band and have a tight sound in the mix. most rock players use much compression thats what i see

    in studio recording my advice not to have many units in the signal chain. your signal should be as clean as it can be. because every unit adds a hiss (much or less especially distortions and compressions) and eats your tone. sound engineers dont like that kind of recordings
     
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