5 Compression Mistakes We All Make

5 Compression Mistakes We All Make

Matthew Vere
Matthew Vere

Table of Contents

Using Too Fast of an Attack Time

Fast attack times kill transients. In most cases, you don’t want to do this. It’s perhaps only useful for parallel processing when you’ll mix back in some of the unaffected, original signal.

If you need to control transients, it may be best using a limiter, to shave off the tops from the transients. Then, follow up with a compressor with a longer attack time to smooth out the sound.

Using a fast attack time will give a compressed sound from the get-go.

Using Too Slow of a Release Time

The release time needs to be fast enough that it gets out of the way of the next transient, but not too fast that the compressor isn’t working.

Experiment with compression on percussive, or transient heavy material, as this is the best way to learn how to use a compressor.

Compressing For The Sake Of It

Listen to your source and ask, does this need compression? Or am I just opening a compressor out of habit? Or because I saw someone on the internet doing it?

Using Presets

Presets can be a great starting point when learning a new piece of gear or plugin. But, it would be best if you learned compression to be able to use it effectively and get the most out plugins.

You’ll always have to adjust the threshold on presets, to suit your material.

Using Compression

Do you need to use a compressor? What is the sound you’re trying to achieve?

You can achieve similar results to a compressor in certain situations using saturation plugins. Saturations can apply more body and bite to a sound while rolling back the transients.

MV: In Electronic music, compression is rarely needed, especially on drums. I don’t apply any compression to the drums in my sample libraries, as they don’t require it. I’m designing the transient and body of each drum to fit together, applying compression to then reduce that transient is unnecessary. A large part of style or timbre comes from compression in the electronic world, but from a technical perspective, it’s not a tool that’s often required.