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VST Compressors

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What VST compressors are you guys using and why?

 

I'm using the Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor and only really using it on .. well.. the master buss.

 

Do you compress your individual tracks?

Do you record and do your mixing without compression and add it later, or incorporate it into your writing process?

 

 

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i don't have any rule about compression but do use it in lot's of places. a few db of compression here and there helps me when mixing. i like the cytomic The Glue on the masterbus.. i have several others though and use the basic ones in logic sometimes too. i use fabfilter compressor, u-he compressor (presswerk), waves renaisance comp, sound radix drum leveler in some situations is really good... 

 

but for a while now i've used izotope neutron 2 because it has some much integrated into it and each instance talks to the others and it's really easy to side chain anything to anything in a multiband way w/some options. i find it really good for mixing. 

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i really like the softube tubetech compressor and the FET one for different reasons. unfortunately you would have just missed their summer sale. D16 frontier is pretty damn good, too. and it's free. though it's more of a limiter

 

http://d16.pl/frontier

 

ableton glue compressor will do in a flash as well (i'm assuming it's the same as cytomic 'the glue' vst)

 

as for when i use compressors, at uni they taught us to mix with a compressor and limiter on the master bus and to aim for about -3db of reduction at each stage. i find that when making beats or techno it can help as the compressor is used musically in these genres, and it makes sense to keep it on the master if you want to hear what it sounds like when it's finished. obviously if you're doing a big album for a label and you're getting everything professionally mixed and mastered then this is a different story and you'd take a different approach. but for personal projects I think it's fine.

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FabFilter C all day every day

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i really like the softube tubetech compressor and the FET one for different reasons. unfortunately you would have just missed their summer sale. D16 frontier is pretty damn good, too. and it's free. though it's more of a limiter

 

http://d16.pl/frontier

 

ableton glue compressor will do in a flash as well (i'm assuming it's the same as cytomic 'the glue' vst)

 

as for when i use compressors, at uni they taught us to mix with a compressor and limiter on the master bus and to aim for about -3db of reduction at each stage. i find that when making beats or techno it can help as the compressor is used musically in these genres, and it makes sense to keep it on the master if you want to hear what it sounds like when it's finished. obviously if you're doing a big album for a label and you're getting everything professionally mixed and mastered then this is a different story and you'd take a different approach. but for personal projects I think it's fine.

 

Does this mean that you have both the compressor take the peaks down -3db and then also the limiter to take another -3db off the compressor's output?

 

It makes sense mixing with the stuff enabled so you get to hear something close to the end result, but on the other hand I have experienced that it's sometimes really disorienting to do that, because when there's only 1-2 elements playing, they get really loud, but when there's more stuff going on, everything is quiet again. Probably I have the settings wrong though. :)

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i really like the softube tubetech compressor and the FET one for different reasons. unfortunately you would have just missed their summer sale. D16 frontier is pretty damn good, too. and it's free. though it's more of a limiter

 

http://d16.pl/frontier

 

ableton glue compressor will do in a flash as well (i'm assuming it's the same as cytomic 'the glue' vst)

 

as for when i use compressors, at uni they taught us to mix with a compressor and limiter on the master bus and to aim for about -3db of reduction at each stage. i find that when making beats or techno it can help as the compressor is used musically in these genres, and it makes sense to keep it on the master if you want to hear what it sounds like when it's finished. obviously if you're doing a big album for a label and you're getting everything professionally mixed and mastered then this is a different story and you'd take a different approach. but for personal projects I think it's fine.

 

Does this mean that you have both the compressor take the peaks down -3db and then also the limiter to take another -3db off the compressor's output?

 

It makes sense mixing with the stuff enabled so you get to hear something close to the end result, but on the other hand I have experienced that it's sometimes really disorienting to do that, because when there's only 1-2 elements playing, they get really loud, but when there's more stuff going on, everything is quiet again. Probably I have the settings wrong though. :)

 

yeah, we were mixing a pop / rock song and the general rule was whenever there was gain reduction happening, aim for 3db reduction. and then we'd set the makeup gain to 3db. this is for a vanilla mix, for electronic music and the idmz i'm sure you could push it further.

 

as for the master compression, same deal. though we were given certain settings as a 'cheat' like release times which were based off the tempo and levels of the original track so some things might be specific to the song. but gain reduction should remain the same, meaning that as you add more elements, you should bring the thresh of the compressor higher to get the same level of gain reduction. in general i think it makes sense to consider if the master effects should be adjusted whenever you add or change the mix.

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I barely ever compress individual tracks, but if I do, I might use either TDL Kotelnikov GE (my fave compressor, hands down) because of its unobtrusive musicality (if set accordingly), Airwindows ButterComp for its smoothness or either DMG Audio TrackComp's SSL Channel algo or Brainworx bx_console SSL 4K G's compressor if I want that SSL bite. Setting wise, whatever's necessary, whatever works.

 

But damn I love to compress busses :D

 

On the master bus, Kotelnikov GE is king: it sounds bloody awesome and I know it like the back of my hand. It's so flexible I keep on coming back to it when trying other options, as it basically is a huge sweet spot, no matter how you set it. Devs are considering adding their Limiter 6 compression algos (Alpha, Sigma and Leveler) to it, and it'd turn K GE into an insane beast.

 

DMG Audio TrackComp's SSL G Comp is pretty amazing as well, with much more hmmm funk to it than The Glue (that I also own). Damn flexible, and it simply sounds right. I'm really looking forward to testing the Glue HD update though, I bet it might make its action a bit less hmmm mechanical.

 

Outsiders are Airwindows comps: Pyewacket, Logical4 and ButterComp are the main contenders, you owe yourself to give them a try. They're free, and you can support Chris's work via his Patreon (I do).

 

On the 2buss, I'm currently found of long attack times (10 to 30ms), auto-release when going for the SSL vibe, mild ratio (like 4:1), a nice amount of GR (especially if bringing back some dry signal afterward), and HPF side chain set to taste, sometimes quite high (up to 300/500Hz). If possible, I enjoy targeting the mids more than the rest of the frequency spectrum, to me it can really emphasize the groove / movement of a tune. 

 

On the drum bus, I've tried many options (including the ones aforementioned). They all work, sometimes in a stellar way... but I'm currently leaving my drums uncompressed most of the time, relying on the instance on the 2buss more.

 

If looking for more characterful compression / saturation there, Goodhertz's Faraday and Vulf are amazing on drums. Each has its strength : Vulf is instant breakbeat, Faraday is rock n roll!

 

No matter the plugin, I'll strongly recommend trying long attacks: it may seem weird on such transient heavy, percussive material, but boy it can make a beat sing! Release is so material dependent though.

 

FWIW, I try almost every non-UAD compressor that gets released. I have an ilok, just in case, even if I'dd rather not rely on it. I'm not found of Slate's ones, way too heavy handed and gimmicky to me. I'm not found of Arouser either, I don't really get the hype. Kush Novatron is amazing... yet it's almost too smooth for me somehow, even when set aggressively : as if I could hear it doing its thing... and at the same time as if I couldn't.

 

Oh and I forgot about Klanghelm. MJUC is allover the LP in my sig, on the 2buss of all the tunes. DC8C3 is deep as fuck, sounds fantastic (I love how it can be authoritative) but for some reasons I can never settle to one setting when using it (too many parameters, feels like an invitation to never-ending tweaking)... 

 

As time goes by, I'm looking for lush sounding processors that I can set in a few clicks and commit to right away. Hence my love for TDR Kotlenikov GE and DMG Audio TrackComp.

 

By the way, I'm not the one to master my tracks. I use buss compression to emphasize groove and movement and don't give two fucks about loudness (as you can hear on my Ellipses LP, the mastering engineer did an amazing job respecting that, using his Culture Vulture and Shadow Hill Compressor for tone enhancement rather than gain-reduction). 

 

And I always gain-match dry/compressed signal, too easy to be fooled by volume variations otherwise. That's crucial when mixing IMHO.

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Oh and I forgot about Klanghelm. MJUC is allover the LP in my sig, on the 2buss of all the tunes.

Hell yeah, MJUC is definitely my mix-bus compressor or choice - Mk. 3 by default but switch it lower if I want things dirtier. If I want slightly less colouration I've recently got hold of Plugin Alliance/Vertigo VSC-2 to help with an SSL-like glue

 

I use Fabfilter Pro-C on each channel-strip just to tame individual tracks - It's 'bypassed' (set as 1:1 ratio) by default but if I need to push things down without changing the tone it's the most clean/clinical compressor I've found

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I use a couple from a few tone2.com's vsts because they have tons of weird additional options and parameters built into them, good response time, a good trade between professional and cheese, and contain outlets and settings that integrate well with what I want to do. I use them a lot for drums and sometimes on the master. For individual tracks I just use the compression effect, along with a tiny bit of EQ, that comes with Renoise; it does the job fine for when doing the mixing portion of everything. And yes I compress individual tracks and buses on top of the master bus. If it's software always add compression in later to enhance the dynamics while having a fresh palette of the original sound still in mind, and  to play around with potential automation ideas on the fly. Only time I specifically go after compression beforehand would be either for recording samples or if I am working with a hardware-only setup.

 

My setup with compressors usually has an instrument going through one compressor, through a chain of effects, and then through a second compressor before going into the rest of the mix. I copied the technique from Pink Floyd in order to get greater detailing into my 'verbs and delays.

Edited by Entorwellian

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i like throwing soundtoys devilloc deluxe with distortion on a send and throwing all my beats through it. 

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MTurboCompMB and MTransientMB for in-depth dynamics control, when it's worth putting in the time to get something exactly right

 

To quickly beat something into shape, I usually throw on a Presswerk

 

For leveling with some character, I find the old Cakewalk CA-2A still very effective

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MDA Dynamics user here, simple and effective. 

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Interesting stuff guys .

 

I personally find it really difficult to know exactly where the sweet spot is - particularly if ive had cans on for a while . There is definitely a placebo affect for me too . For example , with your favourite compressors do you believe that you would be able to semi accurately predict what the settings were on it if someone else were putting it on one of your tunes and you were only listening to it without the guide of visually seeing what settings were being deployed ?

 

I read somewhere , a while ago , that as soon as you can "hear" it you should dial it back , but this seems kinda idiotic given that the more experience you have with it then the more likely you are to detect it at gentle settings.

 

Thoughts ?

 

Also , have any of you any experience on parallel compression on the master ? Or do you think this technique is better applied to individual tracks ?

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Just stock Ableton

 

I’m never impressed with the demos of expensive stuff I try. I delete it within ten minutes.

 

Mainly I prefer the streamlined UX of stock Ableton.

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I usually defend the position of NOT using compression unless it's necessary. Reason being that I view compression and EQ as fixers first and enhancers second. There are lots of EQs and compressors that do wonders on certain instruments to give interesting colour, but I removed that from my workflow to focus more on frequency placement and basic mixing. I feel concentrating on mixing fundamentals reduces head scratching and frustration over instruments not fitting in instead of trying to shoehorning them with compression or EQ. It's all a matter of taste of course, this approach isn't by any means better. In reality it can result in more work!  And some compressors and EQs can be instruments themselves! But not relying on them helps me in understanding why things aren't working and to decide what needs to be filled and what needs to be removed.

However, in line with this thread, I really recommend PSP Vintage Warmer as a flavour enhancer! http://www.pspaudioware.com/plugins/dynamic_processors/psp_vintagewarmer2/

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I might be oversimplifying it but compression, and to an extent EQ, is an assist-tool for me than a requirement in a song. It's akin to adding salt to your food: you can accentuate a few features that currently exist in the sound there but it's nothing really groundbreaking to add to a track since the details are already there, you're just making them more salient to the listener. Plus adding too much salt to something can drown out the rest of the meal (i.e. sidechaining), and all you can notice is the salt, so it's really better to not use it at all than to rely on it in every track. It's way more important from a sound engineering perspective because of the differences and considerations that you have to make in regards to listening on a wide range of sound systems and headphones. There is nothing stopping someone from just using a shitton of envelope points for the amplitudes in your track instead and have the same result, its just that it'd take a lot more time and effort.

Edited by Entorwellian

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I might be oversimplifying it but compression, and to an extent EQ, is an assist-tool for me than a requirement in a song. It's akin to adding salt to your food: you can accentuate a few features that currently exist in the sound there but it's nothing really groundbreaking to add to a track since the details are already there, you're just making them more salient to the listener. Plus adding too much salt to something can drown out the rest of the meal (i.e. sidechaining), and all you can notice is the salt, so it's really better to not use it at all than to rely on it in every track. It's way more important from a sound engineering perspective because of the differences and considerations that you have to make in regards to listening on a wide range of sound systems and headphones. There is nothing stopping someone from just using a shitton of envelope points for the amplitudes in your track instead and have the same result, its just that it'd take a lot more time and effort.

 

yeah, me too. almost as an effect. but i'm no professional

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complete opposite for me, i absolutely lather everything in compression. I love the sound of elements of a tune being constantly squashed and distorted by other elements. 

 

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/romella-belx/distro[/soundcloud]

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Stock samplitude comps. Itz all i need + tdk nova dynamic eq. The only other comp that is hard to emulate with samp's comps/limiters is softube dyna-mite (think snare on recks on)

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Compression isn't only an utilitarian processor, you can really get creative with it. Buss compressions can emphasize a groove like nothing else IMO, and can make the best arrangements sing. Just strap it on the master buss early on and mix into it, otherwise it'll mess the mix,s balance big times.

Clark, Jackson, Actress, Ben Frost, even The Beatles... and so many artists wouldn't have sounded the same without compressors. Not that it's mandatory to compress anything, but it can also be a strong, distinctive element of one's esthetic / sonic identity.

But eh, I do agree that there are many other ways to fix dynamic issues.

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Interesting stuff guys .

I personally find it really difficult to know exactly where the sweet spot is - particularly if ive had cans on for a while . There is definitely a placebo affect for me too . For example , with your favourite compressors do you believe that you would be able to semi accurately predict what the settings were on it if someone else were putting it on one of your tunes and you were only listening to it without the guide of visually seeing what settings were being deployed ?

I read somewhere , a while ago , that as soon as you can "hear" it you should dial it back , but this seems kinda idiotic given that the more experience you have with it then the more likely you are to detect it at gentle settings.

Thoughts ?

Also , have any of you any experience on parallel compression on the master ? Or do you think this technique is better applied to individual tracks ?

If it sounds good, then it's good! Even nasty digital clipping (that I personally avoid like plague) can sound right if it suits your vision.

I love to hear the compression, otherwise I wouldn't use compressors. There's no rule, as long as you set things according to the material you feed the compressor with : compression can alter dynamics (of course) and frequency spectrum as well (hence the recommendation to mix into the compressor from the get go).

I believe it's not that much about predicting the result as much as knowing your tool and setting it easily to work it's magic in the context of your mix. I have a clear idea of the sound I'm looking for and know 9 times out of 10 how to get there, but I'm often surprised by the way I end setting up my compressor. Once you're comfortable with compression it's pretty gratifying to experiment with it. You'll know when it's wrong, just use your ears.

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I use the compressor and limiter that are built into Cubase. They are simple and work well.

Yes, I compress individual tracks, also I often group two or more tracks and compress them together. Sometimes I group groups and compress them too. And I use light compression for mastering.

Compressors are manifoldly applicable and you can create cool effects with them. They are more than a tool to make things sound louder

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Airwindows Buttercomp in parallel on the master buss almost by default these days.

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Buttercomp into Pyewacket is a nice, nice combo too ;)

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On the salt analogy, I guess a lot of people are using TGI Friday’s-levels of compression these days!

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