So you want to know how to squeeze your audio?
Make it punchy and tight?
Compress with the best of them?
Well, are you even using your compressor to its full extent?
Sometimes, you might not even realize the amount of different sounds you can squeeze out of your compressor.
If we just talk about the software side, excluding any outboard compressors you might have, then the typical DAW compressor has a few different settings that you should experiment with.
I’m not talking about all those buttons you know all too well. I’m talking about the compressor models.
You see, in Logic for instance, you can switch between a few different emulations. Whether it’s the standard Logic Platinum model or their FET, VCA or Opto emulations, all of them give various results and color the sounds differently.
In Logic they are all based on famous models, like the 1176(FET) or LA2A(Opto) and although they might not sound exactly like their more expensive counterparts they do behave similarly.
So when your favorite producer says that he always likes to put his drums through a 1176, you can easily get close to that same sound.
Try to see if bussing your drums through a compressor set to a FET setting will produce something similar to what you hear in your head.
All these models are designed differently, and they all have a different sound. Don’t just stick to the generic model your DAW defaults to. Use those different models to get a diverse sound to your compression.+
Some compressor plug-ins have more types, but these three are the most common:
- FET - Any plug-in that emulates a FET(Field Effect Transistor) is emulating an 1176. The 1176 is perhaps the most famous FET compressor. People like to use them to get punchy drums.
- Opto - The LA2A is an optical compressor. It works a little slower, and doesn’t react as quickly to your audio. It works well for parallel compression since it’s always pumping away in the background, not just when you reach the threshold.
- VCA - Fast and transparent. The VCA model doesn’t color the sound as much as the other models, so they’re ideal when you want your compression to go unnoticed.
Slapping the same model across the board might work if you just want generic compression. But it’s uninteresting and boring. Use these different models next time to create interest in your mixes.
As always, if you need more ideas on how to use your compressor, check out Understanding Compression.
Image by: HokutoSuisse