Recording Levels & Compression

Back into tracking again. I tried the latest 24bit version but my machine would not handle it so I went back to 3.3, so far so good. If you recor your levels high enough say @ -3.0 would you consider compressing parts of the mix and why??

Compression is about so much more than just “louder”. It can do cool stuff like make drum attacks more “there” or bring up the room sound of certain elements (provided ther is room sound on the track) to act as a faux reverb, or provide that breathy vocal characteristic you’ve been looking for.

So yeah, even with good levels I’d add some compression to a mix if I thought certain elements needed some. The best way to learn the effects of dynamics control is focus on one track or element of mix to start with. Play with different compression characteristics and see what they do. A good thing to do is assign something like your drum mix to a group and put some compression on the group only. Bring that group’s level up underneath the dry drum mix and see what happens in the context of the mix. There’s so many things you can do with compression (good and bad) but I’ve found it’s generally much more effective when used in a targeted fashion than when used as some kind of extra gain stage on an entire mix…

Compression is a wide topic, I’m finding out. If you jhust target one element, as clava… recommeds, you’ll find that changing one thing effects a lot of other things. The mix is all about relationships- you change one, you’ve changed the entire dynamic.

I agree. I always use compression on my own vocals, makes my voice sound more confident and steady (I’m not a strong vocalist). I also use it on acoustic guitar because I like the sound better that way. Compression on bass is quite standard, although I don’t usually do it simply because the particular instruments I’ve used don’t seem to need it.

Compression on electric guitars is usually unnecessary because the guitar amps & FX compress a lot to begin with.

And for drums, dynamics is a huge subject – books could be written and leave a lot unsaid. Whether to compress individual tracks, and which ones, or compress a mix or submix, etc. I would be inclined to build separate submixes (groups) for cymbals and the rest of the drums, and compress them separately: I don’t want to hear the cymbals drop out for compression on a drum. That said, no doubt compression on drums submix has been done well by others.

And finally, master compression (usually multiband) is an important part of mastering, but that’s a whole 'nuther topic: you’re talking about mixing.