Wondering how much compression you should use in the mix? Maybe you’re skeptical that compression really makes a difference? It’s a difficult effect to get a handle on and to really use effectively. It starts by being able to hear the difference between a mix that has compression and one that does not. To this end, I’ve cooked up a phat drum beat and given it a mix with lots of compression. In this video, I switch all of the compressors on and off while the beat is playing, so you can seriously hear the difference. And, at the same time I flip through the compressors on each channel so you can peep my settings. Enjoy!

PS — This video can be seen in full screen HD if you go to YouTube. Double click on the video above to jump directly to the full screen version.

    Thanks for this! Very useful. I took note of your settings & put them in a spreadsheet everyone can see. Unfortunately Youtube wouldn’t let me post a link, but maybe your blog will:


    Also, I couldn’t tell what the Master compressor was doing, since it was bypassed when you flipped through it. How much Gain Reduction do you aim for on the master?


    Nice topic Erik!!! and also a great example.

    It’s pretty easy to hear how the compressor evens up the performance and how the make up gain brings up those softer parts, helping also to hear everything more clear and with more fat.

    Like it!!!!

    Thanks for this Eric. What a nice example of compression in use on a mix. I have been wanting to hear this type of example as I have been doing a great deal of reading regarding compression. It is nice to “hear” an example instead of just reading about it.

    Wow. That was a great example on how compression can really make a difference in your tracks.

    It sounds like a combfilter when the compression is on…

    Good point. That’s sort of what parallel compression can sound like when the parallel return is up loud in the mix. So, obviously, a little goes a long way and parallel compression is definitely not something you want to overdo.

    Compression is probably the hardest thing to truly understand and know when and how to use in mixing and mastering, so videos like this are always great fir helping you on the way. Learning not to look at the dials and using your ears as much as possible really helped me along the way, dials often say one thing but don’t necessarily follow the same processes. A fast attack on one compressor can sound much slower on another, even if the dials are at the same settings.

    Ultimately compression is a choice, often essential for recording (especially vocals). It is a very versatile type of processing which can be used for tonal reshaping of a sound, purely dynamic control and obviously put to special use for de-essing and ducking. You can in some instances stack the compressors with different time constants in order to achieve more control.

    Another issue is that your monitoring must have exception ability to convey transients well as this will affect how much compression is applied.

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