If you’re just learning how to mix music and make your tracks sound as professional as possible, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube explaining just about everything.
The guys with 3 Sigma Audio have been uploading some helpful video tutorials to YouTube lately.
Awhile back they posted a tutorial on how to mix a song using entirely free plugins.
Then they added a few new videos for learning about EQ and compressors this week that are especially helpful for beginners.
I posted about the iZoptope course yesterday with a bunch of EQ tutorials and game-based challenges to hone and test your EQ skills, so this time around lets focus on how compressors work.
As mentioned in the video, compressors are basically automatic turner downers. They are designed to turn a signal down once it reaches a certain point.
Compressor Controls Explained
Threshold – The threshold settings is used to set the level for when the compressor kicks in and starts turning the signal down. The compressor is doing nothing whatsoever until it hits that threshold number. Some compressors have a soft knee setting where they start to kick in a bit early before the threshold.
Ratio – The ratio setting dictates how much the signal is being turned down based on how much it’s going over the threshold. For example, if the ratio is set at 2 and the the threshold is set at -10db, the output signal will be -5db. The higher the ratio setting the more compression is happening. A ratio of 1 means no compression is occurring and a ratio higher than 10 is generally considered a limiter.
Attack – The attack setting defines how long it takes for the compressor to be fully engaged once the threshold setting is crossed.
Release – The release setting is essentially the opposite of attack. It defines how long it takes to turn compression off once the signal dips below the threshold.
Makeup (Gain) – The makeup gain setting is there to balance the input signal with the output signal after compression is applied. Since compression is effectively lowering the volume, sometimes the gain needs to be raised in order to get the volume level back up to match the incoming signal.