#1
I read about a lot of guitarists using these but what exactly does it due and how does it affect the sound?
#2
what it does is smooshes the sound

seriously though it makes a limit on peaks in volume and can raise the volume of lower level sounds. What this can do is keep your levels fairly uniform and increase the perception of sustain, when it raises the level of signal as it begins to die out.

compression will change the 'dynamics' of your signal. Like if you don't use it, when you pick soft the sound is soft and if you hit the string hard it's much louder. With compression, the more compressed it is the less this happens, so it doesn't matter as much how you hit the strings.

compression is really great for bass guitar (when you want to add sustain and keep levels consistant) and also very useful for regular guitar. A lot of amps, when they distort have a bit of their own compression of the signal. Compression can sound very nice with a clean signal. The difference is not often dramatic, but if you play with it and then turn it off it's very noticeable.
Last edited by GoDrex at Jun 22, 2008,
#3
I was under the impression that compression was to thank for all of those nice clacky clean tones one can get.
#5
It increases the volume of your quieter sounds (like playing muted notes), so these stick out more, without affecting your dynamics. It also lowers your louder notes so everything sounds more balanced.

The advantage is that you gain some sustain (a lot if use enough gain), and create a funkier tone if you are playing clean, they do create a noticeable bit of hum (as hum is made louder as well).
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#6
A compressor is quite simple, it evens out the dynamics. It makes the loud notes quiter and the quiet notes louder. On a compressor you have something called threshold, this is basically what the maxium amount of DBs (decibels) the notes may achieve. This is sometimes labeled sensitivity or so on a pedal. The higher the threshold, the lower the amount of DBs the notes may achieve. What happens when a note goes above the threshold? It is compressed and basically "pushed" back. When set low, the pedal will only even out the sound, but the higher, then the sound starts sounding different. For an example you often get a quack from the sound (popular in funk). Also with a high treshold you can hit your guitar really hard and get a very large amount of compression.

It's hard to explain, but try one out!
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#7
yeah a compressor can sound great with a clean tone on a guitar like a strat or tele because their volume tends to drop quickly after hitting a note, so compression can bring up the volume of a note as it dies to make it last longer and yet stay nice and clean. It can also help keep volume spikes down.

compression is use all the time in recording - I'd say way to much these days. It's what makes music today seem much louder than stuff recorded before, say, the mid 90's. Around that time they started compressing the hell out of music to get the volume levels up. IMO it makes music sound like crap if you over do it. You need dynamics for music to sound natural.
#8
^However, sometimes using a compressor right, can work great. Listen to The Beatles. They often had a lot of compression, but not overdoing it! Also what you talk about sounds more like a limiter. Today people use it to take away the dynamics and so on!
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#9
Well yeah compression is very important in recording. And yeah a limiter is form of compression. What is going on today is excessive use of limiting in conjunction with bringing up the gain on everything.

here's an example of what this "looks like"



the top one is song by Sleater-Kinney called "What's Mine Is Yours" - -it's a fairly hard rocking/classic rock type song. the bottom one is "Rock N' Roll" by Led Zeppelin

they both peak at the same level - but the S-K song peaks far more often - almost constantly. So the average volume and perceived loudness is higher. I prefer the older way or mastering tunes (even though I love S-K). The less dynamic style is more fatiguing to the ear.
#10
My opinion is that compressing should never be used live, only in the studio during the actual editing process. It's takes all the dynamics and tone out.
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#11
The best way i've seen it explained is like this:

your signal uncompressed: zzzZZzZzZzzzzZzz

your signal compressed: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

everyone else has explained the specifics of it very nicely so I'm not going to say it all over again.
#12
Quote by GoDrex
Well yeah compression is very important in recording. And yeah a limiter is form of compression. What is going on today is excessive use of limiting in conjunction with bringing up the gain on everything.

here's an example of what this "looks like"



the top one is song by Sleater-Kinney called "What's Mine Is Yours" - -it's a fairly hard rocking/classic rock type song. the bottom one is "Rock N' Roll" by Led Zeppelin

they both peak at the same level - but the S-K song peaks far more often - almost constantly. So the average volume and perceived loudness is higher. I prefer the older way or mastering tunes (even though I love S-K). The less dynamic style is more fatiguing to the ear.


Exactly my friend! I hate when people OVERUSE limiters like that. As you said it's percieved as louder and again, very fatugiun for the ear after long periods of time. This way of limiting is also very used in dance music, so that all songs are EXACTLY equally loud. I myself also prefer old ways of mixing.

For thinking like I do.
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#13
dont listen to these meat holes...compressors rule!!.....go to your local music temple and try a couple out,...every piece of music you here has compression in it in the mixing process,....some compressors are so subtle ya dont even notice them on..some more agressive,....try an mxr compressor,...or a boss comp/sustainer,...and judge for yourself.
#15
Quote by GoDrex
Who said not to use a compressor? You might be part retarded.


Well gee thanks. It might be my sucky compressor though, I have a Boss. Still, I'm not a fan, I feel like it's cheating to compensate for lack of technique.
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#16
Quote by jessexxx
dont listen to these meat holes...compressors rule!!.....go to your local music temple and try a couple out,...every piece of music you here has compression in it in the mixing process,....some compressors are so subtle ya dont even notice them on..some more agressive,....try an mxr compressor,...or a boss comp/sustainer,...and judge for yourself.




Since when did I say I din't like compressors? I love compressors! Hey, one of my favourite tones are The Beatles, who were known for their heavy use of compressors (just listen to the vocals in Lady Madonna, heavy compression done RIGHT). What I don't like is that in too much of modern day music people tend to overuse limiters and pull up the gain, to get the sound louder. This isn't even about guitar compressors, just compressors in general.
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