I love compression.

I think it’s is a fabulous tool.

Also, I HATE over-compression. (Too much of a good thing and all.)

That said, compression is one of the most enjoyable tools I use during recording and mixing.

And here are some of my favorite uses:

#1 Bass

I haven’t found a bass track that doesn’t love to be squashed. Compression helps even out the performance and create a big, thumpin’ bass track.

#2 Vocals

It’s hard to hear the lead vocal over a nice full mix, no matter how much you adjust the volume. Compression allows you to bring out the consonants in a vocal, so you can actually understand what he/she is singing.

#3 Electric Guitars

I love using compression to add sustain to my big electric guitar tracks. Big guitars have a lot of sustain to begin with, but compression can help ’em ring out even longer (sounding even more huge than before).

#4 Drums

The sound of kick and snare drum that you hear in modern recordings? It’s hard to get that sound without compression. You can literally change the tone of a snare drum DRAMATICALLY by simply changing the compressor settings. It’s pretty wild.

I also LOVE using compression on the drum bus. This usually allows me to use less compression on the individual tracks.

#5 Reverb

I’ve only started doing this recently, but in a big mix, sometimes it helps to compress the reverb track. It lets you hear the reverb without having to crank it up and wash out the entire mix.

So, those are five of my favorite uses for compression.

Of course, one of the reasons I really enjoy compression is because I understand how to use it.

And it really is a lot of fun.

Wanna learn more? Clicky-click here:

www.UnderstandingCompression.com

Joe Gilder

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  • Xan

    Can’t really disagree with any ov that…! 🙂

    With the styles ov music I work with the distortion is so extreme on the guitars there is no need for compression to lengthen sustain! However, sometimes it adds a degree ov nice smoothing.

    Compressing reverb is much the same thing as turning it up. Really useful when you are trying to boost natural reverb from an ambient mic etc.

    Conversely, you can turn it down by applying EXPANSION. I use both techniques, but the compression to turn it up much more. 🙂

    • Yeah, on the occasional mix turning up the reverb just doesn’t cut it. Enter compression. 🙂

  • Andrew

    Great Tip Joe!

  • …which is basically the same idea as compressing the Reverb track 🙂

    • HA! 🙂 Didn’t see that before my last response.

  • Room mic compression is almost always on the menu for me. Then I can drop the fader a bit and have the room snuggled nicely underneath the direct sound.

    • Yeah, that’s the same idea behind compressing the reverb track.

  • Eric Jean

    Cool point — compressing the reverb so as to not wash out the track by increasing the send volume on your reverb aux fader!

    • Yeah, I’ve only been doing it for a little while, but it seems to work pretty well.