How to use compression in mastering applications
Compression is a powerful tool that can be used to improve the sound of your music in a variety of ways. It can be used to make your tracks louder, more punchy, and more cohesive. However, it is important to use compression wisely, as overdoing it can lead to a loss of dynamics and a harsh, unnatural sound.
Here are a few tips on how to use compression in mastering applications:
- Start with a low ratio and high threshold. A good starting point for mastering compression is a ratio of 1.25:1 or 1.5:1 and a threshold of -6 dB or higher. This will give you a subtle but effective amount of compression.
- Use a fast attack and slow release. This will help to preserve the punch of your transients while smoothing out the overall dynamics of your track.
- Experiment with different settings. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to compression, so it is important to experiment with different settings to find what works best for your particular track.
- Use your ears. The most important thing is to trust your ears and adjust the compression settings until you are happy with the sound.
Here are a few specific ways that you can use compression in mastering:
- To glue the mix together. Compression can help to create a more cohesive sound by reducing the dynamic range of the individual tracks in your mix. This can be especially helpful for electronic music, where there are often a lot of different tracks playing at the same time.
- To add punch and impact. Compression can be used to add punch and impact to percussive instruments, such as the kick drum and snare drum. This is often done by using a fast attack and a high ratio.
- To control the overall dynamics. Compression can be used to control the overall dynamics of your track, making it louder and more consistent. This is especially important for commercial music, which is often played back on a variety of different devices.
Here are a few examples of how different mastering engineers use compression:
- Chris Gehringer. Gehringer is known for his use of compression to create a loud and punchy sound. He often uses ratios of 4:1 or higher on the master bus.
- Bob Ludwig. Ludwig is known for his more subtle use of compression. He often uses ratios of 1.5:1 or 2:1 on the master bus.
- Andy Wallace. Wallace is known for his use of compression to create a cohesive and balanced sound. He often uses a variety of different compression techniques on different elements of the mix.
Ultimately, the best way to learn how to use compression in mastering is to experiment and find what works best for your own music. There are no hard and fast rules, so the most important thing is to use your ears and trust your judgment.