A compressor is a device that allows you to smooth out the dynamic range of a signal. In simpler terms: what was quiet will become louder, and what was loud will become somewhat quieter. As a result, the sound will become more dense. In addition, the compressor allows you to even out technical recording defects: for example, when recording vocals, vocalists (especially not experienced ones) shake their heads, swing the microphone back and forth, periodically bounce, kick their feet and do other funny tricks, which leads to a floating volume level. In this (and in many other situations) a compressor will help, which will smooth out the level change.
The use of a compressor also allows you to raise the track level if a simple increase in the signal level does not help anymore (clipping begins).
If any track doesn’t sound powerful enough, do not rush to output its volume fader to the end or set a “cool” compression. First, look at the sound from which tracks can drown it. Pick up tracks that are too loud. This will help you maintain sound transparency.
The first contenders for compression are vocals and bass. As a rule, they are always compressed to one degree or another. It is pointless to compress a guitar track with overdrive and other “metal” gadgets, since such gadgets themselves are compressors. Additional compression of these tracks will lead to recompression, i.e. to a flat, illegible sound.
Do not overdo it: re-compression of any track can lead to a flat slurred sound and distortion.
Please note that the compressor turned on after the reverb (artificial echo effect) will stretch the “tails” of the reverb, i.e. will enhance the echo effect. Compressing the cymbals will cause their sound to decay more slowly, the cymbal will last longer “hiss.” In addition, strong compression usually “draws” and amplifies the noise present in the original signal.
A multiband compressor is a rather complex dynamic device that consists of a crossover (a filter that divides the signal into several frequency bands. Usually, the division is performed according to the principle of high-medium-low, but there are more complex cases, for example, four, five or more bands), and several compression modules, each of which produces compression in its own frequency domain.
Why you need it: For example, an acoustic or “non-wet” guitar is compressed. The sound base of these instruments lies in the mid-frequency region (from 500 Hz to 5 kHz). Sound in the low-frequency region is responsible for the sound density, for “meat”. If you use a conventional compressor to process the guitar, then it compresses all frequencies equally. Thus, trying to stretch the middle, we at the same time compress the bass, which can lead to a bubbling, illegible sound, and the “top”, where the hiss produced by the components of the sound card of the microphone preamplifier (if any) is located. A multi-band compressor compresses each frequency region separately, which allows, for example, in the case of a guitar, to “pinch” the heights above 5 KHz, and vice versa, to “stretch” the mid-frequency region. It’s very good to use a multiband compressor for processing vocals and bass. It is possible to use a multi-band compressor in the mastering chain, for general correction of the sound of the mix.
The most bespontovy of devices of dynamic processing. This effect simply raises the signal level so that the maximum peak signal level is at 0 dB (sometimes this level can be adjusted). Some sources recommend normalizing the track immediately after recording it. Such an approach allows to minimize digital sound distortion associated with? Loss of bit? low level signals. Although the track, with the right level of recording, does not need such processing.
Maximizer is a type of compressor intended for final mastering (i.e. for processing an already reduced work). In simple terms, the compression in the maximizer occurs in such a way that it does not respond to small bursts of the signal, but strengthens the average (usually rms) power. Typically, a mastering maximizer works in conjunction with a limiter, i.e. a device that prevents the signal from exceeding a certain level (usually 0 dB).
If you broadcast the mastering limiter-maximizer to the master section of your editor (Sonar, Cubase), hang it last (in front of the disiring processor, if it comes with a separate plugin).
First, reduce the composition without a maximizer, so that the signal level does not exceed 0 dB (sometimes a little clipping can be allowed at the peaks, the limiter will smooth it later), then connect the maximizer limiter and set the desired compression level (usually 2.5-3 dB). Perhaps after this, additional adjustment of the levels of some tracks will be required.
Do not overdo it.