Compression is commonly used to control the dynamic range of a particular sound source when mixing or producing. Compressors are often a staple tool for the arsenal of most producers and mixing engineers. The ability to thicken the timbre of a sound source, give it more presence or make a particular element sound louder without hitting a peak and distorting are some of the attractive and common uses this tool brings to the table in a production or mixing session.

That said, it is 
a tool that when paired with the following unorthodox technique can add punch and clarity to percussive elements in a mix and heighten the sense of dynamics.

This concept revolves around using a slow attack time to allow transients through the compressor before any gain reduction is engaged to reduce the signal strength. This then leaves only the tail of the element to get compressed whilst the transient that triggers the compressor is left relatively unscaved.

In order to help show you exactly how this works I set up a dummy session with a 1 bar loop of a Kick drum sampled from a Roland tr-808. I then duplicated this across 3 channels to present how dramatically a sound source can be shaped with compression and volume matched each of them for comparison.

Just by looking at the waveforms theres a noticeable difference in transient to tail ratio.

Just by looking at the waveforms theres a noticeable difference in transient to tail ratio.

The original uncompressed kick, very deep and woofy. 

Sound source: Sampled Roland tr-808



The next example is a subtle attempt at showing how the attack time can help prevent transients from being caught onto the compressor. Introduced is a little more clarity in the click of the kick. Upon closer inspection you can evidently hear the "pump" of the compressor as it's being released too quickly.  

Sound source: Sampled Roland tr-808
Compression settings: 300ms Attack, 50ms Release, 15:1 Ratio



The final of the three examples I halved the time of the release so we could hear the compression in full effect over the whole tail of the kick. This example clearly shows how much more punch and attack the kick now has after the compression.

Sound source: Sampled Roland tr-808
Compression settings: 300ms Attack, 1s Release, 15:1 Ratio



 



 

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