The idea is simple: set up the compressor to only react to the parts of the mix that have risen too high, and then reduce those loud parts by just the right amount to keep the DJ mix at a constant level. The goal when applying compression to a sound is usually to make the mix more cohesive. It can also add fullness to a kick or a trap, for example. However, if you put it on at random without knowing why, it can destroy your dynamic.
The easiest way to use a compressor when mixing is to apply it to the entire stereo mix. Ideally, this should always be done by placing it at the insertion points of the desktop's main stereo bus. If you simply connect a compressor between the desktop output and the recorder input, you will no longer be able to make fades with the desktop's master faders, as this will affect the force with which the compressor is operated and, therefore, the sound or balance of the mix during fading. The term compression refers to the reduction of the dynamic range of a piece of audio.
The most basic use of a compressor is to tame transient material through downward compression. Maybe your song “bites too hard” or the bass you're processing has too much of a “slap” in the face. In both situations, one element of the song is refusing to play well with the rest of the mix; when you raise the level of the problem channel, the transients are too high and, when you lower it, the soft parts of the channel are too low. To clearly hear the effects of maximum compression, listen to it with a pair of headphones or studio monitors and increase the audio output until the transients of the first half of the audio file become a bit uncomfortable to listen to.
I'm going to introduce you to 3 scenarios where it makes sense to use a compressor, along with some recommended compressor settings that you can experiment with. A more elaborate but much more effective solution is to use a multiband compressor (another alternative, which allows an even greater degree of control, is to use several different compressors, connected at group insertion points of the mixer, to compress different sections of the mixture independently (see the “Compress into sections” box for more information). However, unlike adjusting the tone or tempo, the effects of compressions can be difficult to identify, and knowing how to use them correctly in the production of your music can differentiate professionals from amateurs. You want the compressor to activate as soon as the signal exceeds the threshold and to stop compressing as soon as it falls below the threshold.
Decreasing attack time is another useful tip, as this will allow the initial transient to pass undisturbed, while allowing compression to increase the battery's subsequent resonance to produce an overall thicker sound. This effect could also be derived from a vocal line, since the voice is likely to be quite loud, a careful adjustment of the compressor will allow the voice to slightly lower everything else while it is present, which will help it to stand out better. You'll see in the image above that compression isn't applied to the signal until the transient reaches its peak; this is due to a slow attack time. Much better results will be achieved if you mix through the compressor and listen to its output, so that it helps you and allows you to use the faders as needed to control how the dominant signals interact.
Explains how to use compression to reinforce the drums, make a vocal performance appear more controlled, and “tie” the whole mix together. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a guide on the use of compression in mixing, as well as to give you some ideas to try in your own projects. It's possible to manually compress a track, simply by dragging the noisy parts down and lifting the soft parts, but to save time and ensure consistency, automated compression tools are absolutely preferred. I wrote an article called “The Ultimate Guide to Compression” in which all the parameters found in compressors are discussed in detail; if you are new to compression, this is a good starting point.
The attack is the time it takes for the audio signal to be fully compressed, and the release is the time it takes to return to its original uncompressed state. Depending on the compressor model you use, one channel (usually one channel) will become the main controller for both (all) channels, but you may also have to configure some of the controls on the other channels with the same settings (usually gain compensation, threshold, and ratio, but sometimes also attack and launch times). If you're new to mixing, it might take longer to get a good mix than it would if you hired a professional mixing engineer, and you'll want to get a lot of feedback from people you trust about the mix. .