Understanding Dynamic Processors (Compression)


New member
Very, very, very useful post. Never knew much background behind the recording process. Certainly opened my eyes to looking at compression differently :)


Jay Summers
Unbelievably helpful, MAN, I am in my DAW all night messing with compression... well.. I had some issues though. I decided to use a Multiband Limiter with each of my tracks. I don't know if I should be doing it that way...

Would you advise having compression on every single track in your project? Or would you only compress certain signals for a certain reason? I mean, I am not PUMPING every one of the tracks, I have a transient on the kick and the toms on the set, but only compression with a 5:01 ratio on the snare, but I have the threshold pretty high. Other than that, I have EQed the guitars in the mid range, bass in the low range etc... and then on the mastertrack, I have another Multiband Limiter with a Stereo enhancement.

I feel like I am going nuts here, but am I doing too much? lol.... I would really appreciate any help you want to provide.



Zukatoku - Mod Scientist
there is the apocryphal story (I've been hearing this one in many variations for about 30 years) of an LA based engineer in the 1970's who would walk into a mix session with a rack case full of compressors (enough to apply to every track of a 48 track (2x 24 track machines time-code locked)) patch into the facilities desk and then proceed to provide a final mix in 3 hours - an example of a compressor on every track but there is nothing in this story to tell us exactly how each compressor was applied, if applied at all

in those days compression was used to compensate for factors beyond the medium

today, your sounds are more than likely pre-compressed (they have been developed and shaped using compression and other techniques such as eq) and so do not require further treatment beyond making them sit in the mix which is more about level balancing than it is about compression or eq or anything else

in addition, unless you are working with live audio, you have other tools that you can use before considering compression:

MIDI velocity:
  • can be scaled in most daws to other values,
  • you can randomise them if you are so inclined to give the track some air,
  • you can add emphasis on specific positions within the bar if you are so inclined or
  • take emphasis away in the same manner

if it is live audio then you need to consider whether an individual track needs compression or not
- there is no short solution to knowing the answer to that question other than suck and see


Active member
I decided to use a Multiband Limiter with each of my tracks
Limiters are special compressors, the hardest ones. Multiband is also a very powerful approach. Using a Multiband limiter on each individual track during the mix will certainly kill your audio. The dose makes the poison.
Spending your time choosing sounds, or improving arrangements is a better investment than wasting it in setting zillions parameters in audio processing.
My 2 cents.
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