Compressors: What does what?

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Compressors: What does What?

Many people use compressors in their music, and can usually describe to you what the compressor is doing to their track, (If they can’t do that, it’s probably not the most listenable stuff in the world….), however, many people just stick on a preset, and dont bother understanding what the various options/processes within the compressor,

Here is the Scan guide to Compressor Knobs……….

The Compressor can be used at all stages of your studio work, recording tracks, mixing down and mastering the final product.
Its job is to ‘turn down’ the volume of a signal, if the signal has gone above a certain volume level. It’s exactly the same as a person turning the volume knob down, albeit much faster and much more accurate.


Threshold: The threshold setting determines the level at which the compressor starts to act on the signal. It is listed in dB (decibels).

Ratio: The ratio is the amount that the compressor affects the signal. For example, a ratio of 2:1 means that if a signal goes 1dB over the threshold setting, its output from the compressor is only 1/2dB louder.
At 6:1, for every 6 dB going over the threshold only 1 dB extra will be heard.

Attack: This controls how soon the compressor kicks in. i.e. how quickly the volume is reduced once the incoming signal exceeds the threshold.
The attack is defined in milliseconds (ms), the lower the number, the faster the attack.

Release: The release parameter controls how long the compressor continues affecting the signal once it has started. Like the attack, the release is termed in milliseconds.

Gain: Adding compression usually results in the overall level of the sound dropping. Using the Gain control you can dial the level back up to where it was beforehand.
The signal is listed in decibels.

Knee:  A soft knee slowly increases the compression ratio as the level increases and eventually reaches the compression ratio set by the user.
When you set a Knee value, think of the Threshold as a range, rather than one point.
For input levels below this range, the compressor does nothing. As you enter the range, the compressor will become gradually more active, until it is fully “on” at the top end of the range

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