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WaterFall Records / Blog

Using a Compressor

A Lesson on Compression Using a Compressor? WaterFall Records 2006-2012

Hello all, Ken here.

How many of you really know how to use a compressor? Let's see a show of hands.

Using one is really easy; the trick to it is to "listen to your music" and feel the flow of the mix. Compressors are used to make the "sound punchy and in-your-face" . The trick to getting the punch out of a compressor is to let the attacks through and setting the release to elongate the sound. Setting fast attack times are going to reduce the punchiness of the signal, and the slow release times are going to make the compressor pump out of time with the music, so timing of the Attack and the Release is important!

To set the compressor (assuming you have a constant meter in the song like the snare.): Mute out all the other tracks so you can work on the track. (In this case the snare drum.) Start with the slowest Attack time and fastest Release time setting on the compressor. Slowly turn the Attack time faster until you hear it dull in sound. (The snare) NOW STOP! Adjust the release time so that after the snare hit, the volume is back to 90% to 100% by the next beat . Sit back and listen to your mix in full mix. Make SMALL ADJUSTMENTS to the attack and release times if needed.

You want the compressor to breath in time with the song. This will work on any instrument....... Cool right?

Look at a compressor as an instrument in your sound. But the key to any mix is to LISTEN to your music and make SMALL ADJUSTMENTS. And that's how you use a compressor.

I hope this helps all of you in your mixing and recording. Here are some Magic Frequencies

Bass guitar: Bottom at 50-80hz Attack at 700hz Snap at 2.5kHz

Kick drum: Bottom at 80-100Hz Hollowness at 400Hz Point at 3 - 5kHz

Snare: Fatness at 120 - 240Hz Boing at 900Hz Crispness at 5kHz Snap at 10kHz

Toms: Fullness at 240 - 500Hz Attack at 5 - 7kHz

Floor toms: Fullness at 80 - 120Hz Attack at 5kHz

Hi hat and cymbals: Clang at 200Hz Sparkle at 8 to 10 kHz

Electric guitar: Fullness at 240 - 500Hz Presence at 1.5 to 2.5kHz To get a 4x12 cabinet sound reduce it to 1kHz

Acoustic guitar: Fullness at 80Hz Body at 240Hz Presence at 2 - 5kHz

Organ: Fullness at 80Hz Body at 240Hz Presence at 2 - 5 kHz

Piano: Fullness at 80Hz Presence at 2.5 - 5kHz Honky-tonk at 2.5kHz

Horns: Fullness at 120 - 240Hz Piercing at 5kHz

Vocals or voice: Fullness at 120Hz Boominess at 240Hz Presence at 5kHz Sibilance at 5kHz Air at 10- 5kHz

Strings: Fullness at 240Hz Scratchiness at 7 - 10kHz

Congas: Ring at 200Hz Slap at 5kHz

Tip: Set your frequencies: up as presets. When EQ'ing your track, sweep the frequencies to find the "sweet spot". Don't forget to use your gain in your EQing.

Good Luck! Ken Sutton

Setting Up A Mix

WaterFall Records Learn to Record. Setting up a Mixing session by Kenneth Sutton copyright 2006-2008-2009-2012

After you record your song and you like what you have recorded, you need to mix your song. Mixing is very easy and is not hard at all; the trick to mixing is listening. Sit back and Listen to your song. You'll then begin to hear and get an ideal of how you want it to sound.

"Set your Master Fader to -01 db's and leave it there". "DON'T TOUCH IT"! you can lower your faders but "NOT" the MasterFader.

Play with the Levels in your song, some things sound better in a mix if they are lower than others, don't be afraid to take things out and put them back in at different times.

To set up your tracks in a mix is up to you, there is no right or wrong way to mix a song.

But, to make things fatter in your mix there are some things you can do, like doubling tracks, in most software programs this is as quick as a click of the mouse. Go up to where it says Edit and click it. In your dropdown window you should see Doubling Tracks. Click that and you should get a new track. (Make sure you highlight the track you want to double.)

You can also send your tracks to an AUX track and have all your Drum parts in a mix (sub mix), and still have control of all your drum parts. you can do this with any audio track. Sub Mix:

Here you can add EQ, Compression etc. To do this, you will need to set up a send. A send is just what it says; you are going to send your track to another track.

In your track, (lets say Guitar) click on your Send button, (or Buss) and lets call it 'Buss 1-2'.

Now open up a new track called AUX, set your fader to 00dbs, and where it says 'Input' on the Aux track click Buss 1-2.

Play your track to hear the Guitar, set your levels to your liking. (If you don't hear your Guitar or see a level in the Aux fader, go to your send and set it to 00dbs). With Aux Tracks you can do the same thing with Effects, just send the audio track to the effect. EQ'ing

There is a lot you can do with EQ, also known as 'Coloring'. But too much can hurt a song, so don't over EQ!.

Here are some settings you might want to try:

Kick Drum Eq. 4-band Gain: -20dbs Fq: -13.0 khz Gain: -2.0 dbs Fq: -4.20 khz Q: - 2.40 Gain: -3.0 dbs Fq: 160 hz Q: 1.90 Gain: 0.0 dbs

Fq: 210 hz Bass Guitar Eq. 4-band

Gain: 1.0 dbs Fq: 6.00 khz Gain: -1.0 dbs Fq: 620 hz Q: 2.6 Gain: -3.5 dbs Fq: 200 hz Q: 3.50 Gain: 1.5 dbs Q: 95 hz

Drum Kit Eq. 4-band

Gain: 4.0 dbs Fq: 11.0 khz Gain: -3.0 dbs Fq: 4.40 khz Q: 2.60 Gain: 2.0 dbs Fq: 460 hz Q: 0.98 hz Gain: -2.0 dbs

Fq: 190 hz Vocal Eq. 4-band

Gain: 3.0 dbs Fq: 12.0 khz Gain: 2.5 dbs Fq: 5.20 khz Q: 0.94 Gain: -4.0 dbs Fq: 850 hz Q: 1.40 Gain: 2.0 dbs Fq: 290 hz

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