First of all, you should have a waveform analyzer opened (such as s(M)exoscope) to help you understand the effect of the compressor and visualize what's happening when you tweek the compressors controls. This is mandatory if you are a beginner
. The only way you will wrap your head around it is when you make small practical exercises.
this simple exercise is what helped me to understand the effect in the beginning:
- Show spoiler
- 1. Leave gain at 0, Set ratio to something like 5:1
2. Put attack and release to 0.
3. Play the sound with compressor on it and start to lower threshold slowly, you'll hear a big difference!
4. While the threshold is reduced by a large amount, slowly boost the release and attack until you hear the difference.
5. Tweek everything to taste, increase threshold again, boost/lower output gain (also called Makeup Gain) if the sound becomes too loud/too quiet.
Ratio might be a little confusing for you in the beginning, but a ratio of 2:1 basically means that for every 2dB of sound going above threshold
, the sound is increased by 1dB. So if your sound is going 8dB above threshold, your sound is going to be reduced to 4dB. With a ratio of 2.7:1, if your sound is going 8dB above threshold, your sound will be reduced to 2.96dB. What I'm basically saying (as an example) is that 2.7:1 is a stronger compression than 2:1.
this graph shows that a ratio of 1:1 does nothing. If your compressor is set on this ratio, there is no compression taking place (all you are doing is gaining the sound), a ratio of lets say 1.5:1 would be very weak compression
and sometimes I use that ratio for synth sounds and leads. You can see from the graph that a ratio of 8:1 is strong compression
. With this kind of ratio you would pretty much squash the sound with a steep threshold. This kind of ratio can be useful for vocals which need a lot of taming. A ratio of something like 0.4:1 is not compression anymore, such a ratio is expansion
. Any ratio below 1:1 is expansion. Expansion is the opposite of compression and one of its practical uses is to make the loud audio peaks louder and bypass the very quiet (unwanted) audio. The effect would help you to remove background noise in an audio recording.
Resource to help you understand the controls:https://www.meldaproduction.com/audiotutorials/compression.php