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View Full Version : Compressors: how do fast/medium/slow settings translate to milliseconds (ms)?



TBlizz
December 5th, 2008, 12:17 AM
So far I'm thinking:

Attack
fast: <1ms
fast-medium: 1-10ms
medium: 10ms
medium-slow: 10-25ms
slow: >25ms

Release
fast: <50ms
fast-medium: 50-250ms
medium: 250ms
medium-slow: 250ms-1s
slow: >1s

Thoughts?

Bob Olhsson
December 5th, 2008, 04:41 AM
I've always been astounded by how incredibly little the settings on one compressor have to do with the settings on any other compressor.

Comte de St Germain
December 5th, 2008, 04:56 AM
I've always been astounded by how incredibly little the settings on one compressor have to do with the settings on any other compressor.

And i completely understand that sentiment.

qharley
December 5th, 2008, 06:49 AM
Need I say it: RTFM

My compressors do not have F M S settings, and everything is in ms. I tackle one setting at a time, setting until it does what I wanted it to do.

The user manual should give you the timing charts if your compressor does not display it directly.

TBlizz
December 5th, 2008, 09:23 AM
I've always been astounded by how incredibly little the settings on one compressor have to do with the settings on any other compressor.

Can the same be said for software compressors?

qharley
December 5th, 2008, 10:06 AM
Can the same be said for software compressors?

You mean like WinZip, WinACE, WinRAR and the like? :Razz:

Honestly, it all depend on the algorithm of the compressor, so I'll say it also applies to your software compressors.

You have to set them by ear - That's about as much info I can hope to supply you with :Wink:

TBlizz
December 5th, 2008, 12:21 PM
Honestly, it all depend on the algorithm of the compressor, so I'll say it also applies to your software compressors.

You have to set them by ear - That's about as much info I can hope to supply you with :Wink:

So giving the following starting point is meaningless?

(attack / release)
bass gtr (Med-Fast / Med-Fast)
kick drum (Fast / Med-Slow)
vocal (Fast / Med)
snare drum (Fast / Med-Slow)

tannoy
December 5th, 2008, 12:47 PM
Hi T.,


Can the same be said for software compressors?

Yes. Try it out - if you adjust any kind of software compressor to the same settings as you've adjusted your DAW inherent compressor to for instance, most probably you'll hear a difference. It's really a 'by ear' thing. Above that, different compressors tend to 'color' the tone in a different way.


So giving the following starting point is meaningless?

(attack / release)
bass gtr (Med-Fast / Med-Fast)
kick drum (Fast / Med-Slow)
vocal (Fast / Med)
snare drum (Fast / Med-Slow)

It depends. If the mixer you are giving those starting points to is using the same type of comps they are referring to, it may be useful - but if you expect an adjustment exactly to what you've figured out to be necessary, a span like you've mentioned in your example (i.e. attack medium-slow = 10-25ms) might lead to results which weren't intended. 10 - 25 ms doesn't sound much range-wise, but can make an audible difference depending on the material.


Marco

TBlizz
December 5th, 2008, 04:52 PM
Thank you all for responding & contributing. Here are some quotes, linked to the subject, I found interesting:

Compression Techniques
When I'm working I'll go whatever direction my ears take me for sure, but I do enjoy looking for patterns in my work style + then trying to distill them down to guidelines of when I prefer certain techniques over others. I've found that most of the things I do while mixing can be broken down this way. There always will be a time that I don't follow my own guidelines, but that just puts me on the hunt for the pattern that I follow for that exception. Eventually that will show up and now I have a new and useful guideline. Guideline number one is: Above all else trust your ears.
Charles Dye (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=15386&referrerid=5744)

tips for mixing dance music
OK, so this time let's focus on kik drums. Make sure you can hear the kik all the way down to 40hz. If you can't, get a synth and make up a sine wave based sample kik from about 80-40. EQ your original drum the best you can. Don't compress it, just pick a great sample. Now, take a piece of that drum (mult it, use a send etc. or if in PT make a time aligned copy) and compress the dog snot out of this "copy". A good starting point is fast attack fast Release, ration of 7-10. and knock off about 6-10dB. This will be your midrange knock, and the frequency that makes it sound loud. Add this back to the original sound. Now take another copy and compress 20-30 dB and roll out midrange, say 600-2K. This sound should only be a "tick" and a thud. Add this back in. Add the sub (sample from synth), the knock, and the tick while in the mix, so you can really tell what's going on. If I need to explain this more, let me know. Fat lo-end is a lot of work.
Dave Pensado (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=20036&referrerid=5744)

Drum Magic
...I've always used additive compression which I think is what you're hearing. Additive meaning I split the original signal off, compress it....lots, and add it back in. A little goes a long way. OH's, SN, mono kit mic.......etc. ... Hey Tchad, on your "additive" compression track, is it set with a fast attack or slow? Whatever sounds right for that track. More often, medium to slow attack, fast release.
Tchad Blake (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=114743&referrerid=5744)

TBlizz
December 5th, 2008, 05:11 PM
Compressors vs. Limiters
The distressor at 2:1 or 3:1 medium attack and release is a good starting point for vocals.
Kevin Killen (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=112298&referrerid=5744)

"CLICK/SNAP" on drum tracks?
...I do like to compress the snare, though. 1176 works good, especially to get some gooooooosh. Usually 8:1, medium to slow attack and fairly quick release. The amount of compression depends on the track and how radical you want to get.
Ed Cherney (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=48654&referrerid=5744)

Fischer-Z Q
Well, usually the bass would go down to tape - or hard drive - with the 1176 live, and again on the mix, but not excessive, just enough to keep it steady and solid. It's never a good idea to specify settings because it's different with every player and style, but generally a moderate attack and probably slightly slower release, but with the mix I like a slow attack and fairly fast release, to keep the levels up. But as we were saying in the mastering thread here, enough to make it punchy without losing the dynamics. I always think you should go for less rather than more on the mix because you can always add more at the mastering stage but you can't take it off!

There's also a technique with vocals I heard about, tried and then used a lot where you chain two 1176s in series - both on fairly gentle settings. The first one captures the heavy peaks and the second one can then keep the level up with out struggling. Particularly good with singers with poor breath control - and that's a lot of them...
Mike Howlett (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php?t=129447&referrerid=5744)

otek
December 7th, 2008, 01:00 AM
I've always been astounded by how incredibly little the settings on one compressor have to do with the settings on any other compressor.

And how little it means when you are mixing.

Especially on plugins.


otek

MacGregor
December 7th, 2008, 01:39 AM
Can the same be said for software compressors?

In theory the person who's programmed the plug-in can tell you exactly how much samples her compressor needs for a given setting.
In praxis translating this back to milliseconds is almost as much work as the compressing math itself (especially if the curves are non-linear), so most people avoid it or just display a rough estimation.

But in the AE world that's void and nada anyway, listen and turn the knobs until it sounds right.

Mac
.

iqi616
December 14th, 2008, 08:32 AM
fast/medium/slow is all relative to the sound being processed that's why it doesn't fit any convenient count of milliseconds. Compressors have to be set by ear in context.

Also, you have to know what you're trying to achieve with the compressor. Are you trying to smooth the sound? Are you trying to enhance the attack? Are you trying to get the sound to pump with the beat? If so, do you want it to recover for the quarter note or the eighth note or a triplet feel?

David Aurora
December 14th, 2008, 04:39 PM
I've always been astounded by how incredibly little the settings on one compressor have to do with the settings on any other compressor.

+1



And how little it means when you are mixing.

Especially on plugins.


otek

+1



fast/medium/slow is all relative to the sound being processed that's why it doesn't fit any convenient count of milliseconds. Compressors have to be set by ear in context.

Also, you have to know what you're trying to achieve with the compressor. Are you trying to smooth the sound? Are you trying to enhance the attack? Are you trying to get the sound to pump with the beat? If so, do you want it to recover for the quarter note or the eighth note or a triplet feel?

+1


let me put it another way- spending time naming ranges is a massive waste of time. it takes all of 3 seconds to find the right setting by ear, why bother wondering about whether you'd classify a setting as fast, medium, medium/fast, 99% fat free, halal, etc? just dial it in til it sounds right.

billy_gimp
December 15th, 2008, 06:44 AM
it takes all of 3 seconds to find the right setting by ear,


maybe it would take less if you stopped timing yourself. :P

otek
December 15th, 2008, 12:32 PM
I think this whole discussion started as a result of the original poster wanting to interpret various celebrities in magazines as they talked about compression settings and similar things.

"When Sir John Mixalot says 'fast' attack what does he mean?".... sorta.

I think the proper question to ask oneself when setting a compressor is "what is the sound or function I am trying to achieve?".

Then, it becomes a question not of how to set the compressor, but whether you need a compressor in the first place.


otek

David Aurora
December 15th, 2008, 02:12 PM
maybe it would take less if you stopped timing yourself. :P

yeah maybe, but is that really the moist pro thing to do? :lol: :lol:

qharley
December 15th, 2008, 07:22 PM
maybe it would take less if you stopped timing yourself. :P

I see a new Guinness book sport: Speed compressor setting!

billy_gimp
December 16th, 2008, 10:28 AM
all I shall do is turn it on and leave it as it is... set and forget (without the setting part). Now can I please have my Guinness trophy?.. it is compressing you know... just erm a not very nicely. *tugs collar as you can hear the compressor pumping and breathing*

ugh.... I don't know about you guys, but I like to take my time setting up whatever I intend to use in the signal chain.

TSTW
December 23rd, 2008, 06:13 PM
yeah maybe, but is that really the moist pro thing to do? :lol: :lol:

perhaps not. But it certainly has elements of a red shirt mix...!?