The “Night Club Bouncer” of Mixing

I’ve never experienced this personally, but I’ve seen it in movies.

You know the scene. The dorky main character in the movie is trying to get into the exclusive night club, but first he has to get past the bouncer.

The bouncer’s job (I assume) is to only let the right people into the club. If he lets the wrong people in, the whole vibe of the club could change. You gotta keep the dorks out and the cool people in.

(FACT: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get in…definitely not cool enough.)

But when it comes to mixing, do you know you’ve got a tool that acts much like a bouncer at a night club? (more…)

The Devil’s in the Details

Got an email from a customer the other day.

He bought Understanding Compression. He loved it, but he was writing me to tell me that he thought I should have gone more in depth into attack and release, that my technical definition of how attack and release work wasn’t as in-depth as he would’ve liked.

He thought I oversimplified how the attack and release settings work when the signal is actually above the threshold.

I thought he made a GREAT point, and it makes for a good lesson for all of us.

Here’s my response: (more…)

Compression: Attack vs Release

Got this question from a reader:

My question is regarding the compression technique you seem quite fond of. This is where you set the threshold to such a low value that it is basically compressing EVERYTHING, but you keep the ratio really low just to even things out.

I was wondering, seeing as the compressor pretty much never goes above the threshold value does this mean that the release function is useless now?

If the release only acts when the volume reaches over the threshold – but it never does – surely this makes this function redundant, no?

That’s a GREAT question, Arman.

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure how useful the release function is in that particular instance.

I would imagine you’re probably right. The release doesn’t probably do to much to the sound in that scenario, since the signal really isn’t ever dropping below the threshold. (It MIGHT have something to do with how quickly the compressor “let’s go” of the signal as it goes from a loud section to a quieter section, but I’m not 100% sure about that.)

However, while release times can be helpful, I find myself spending MUCH more time getting the attack times right when using a compressor. Changing attack times can drastically affect the tone of the source, much more so than release times in my opinion.

Changing the attack time alone can make a kick drum go from sounding dull to sounding punchy and in-your-face.

Granted, this doesn’t apply as well if you’re doing a super low threshold and low ratio, but the principle still remains. Keep an eye on release times, but spend more of your time getting the attack time right, and you’ll be in good shape.

If compression leaves you a little bit stumped, and you’d like to learn more, check out:

Happy attacking! 🙂

Compression: When You Should Use Fast Attack Times

In the last article I talked about why you should use slow attack times on your compressor. Slow attack times let the transients through, which keeps the music dynamic.

Slow attack times are especially important when you’re doing buss compression.

Of course, there are times to use fast attack times, too. Whenever the transients of a given signal are too loud or need to be “tamed” a bit, you should try using a faster attack time.


Compression: Why You Should Use Slow Attack Times

When you first started using a compressor, you were happy to just have a basic understanding of what the threshold and ratio do, right?

At some point, though, you need to learn how to deal with the attack setting. I’ll give you a starting point today.

The attack setting simply tells the compressor how quickly it should compress the signal once it crosses the threshold. (Don’t confuse attack with ratio. Ratio tells the compressor how much to compress once it crosses the threshold.)


Piracy, Distorted Vocals, and Compressor Attack Settings [HSC Podcast]


Welcome to another podcast!! I didn’t get one up this week, due to some crazy misfortunes in my studio (I explain in the podcast.)

This podcast features two of my family members, my dad and my baby nephew. 🙂

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