Let me introduce you to four friends of mine.
Okay, they’re not friends. They’re actually evil beasts who live to destroy your mixes.
They’re the Four Horsemen of the Compressalypse:
#1 – The Non-Compression-ist
This is the guy who will tell you that compression is evil and should be avoided at all costs. Using compression will ruin your mix.
He instills fear in your ability to get the compression setting right. He encourages you to just move on and forget compression altogether.
#2 – The Random-Knob-Twister
This guy just tells you to go for it. Pull up a compressor and turn those knobs. The less you actually LOOK at the compressor, the better.
The goal here is to act like you know what you’re doing, and randomly pick a setting that you think sounds good (even if you don’t know why).
#3 – The Limit-the-Mix-Bus-and-Call-it-a-Day-ist
This one is all about the limiter, which is an extreme form of compression. He whispers in your ear, “Your mix will sound professional if you just slap a limiter on your mix bus and make things as loud as possible.”
#4 – The Compressaholic
This horsemen might be the most dangerous of the four.
He understands how compression works…but he simply can’t stop using it.
He’ll tell you that you need a compressor on every track. “It doesn’t really matter what the track sounds like without compression,” he’ll say. “The only way to get that punchy, full-sounding mix is to compress the daylights out of each individual track.”
My advice to you? Avoid these dudes like the plague.
They fail to mention the truth — that compression is a valuable and powerful mixing tool, but only if it’s used properly.
For a safer way to compress (including my step-by-step approach), gallop on over to: