If you’ve NEVER used a compressor in your studio, you’re missing out.
If you’ve used one, but you’re really timid about it — scared you’re gonna mess things up — you’re missing out, too.
Just like EQ is an indispensable tool in every studio, so is compression.
There’s no reason to fear it, and here are 10 reasons why:
1) The worst thing that could happen is you get a bad-sounding mix. (For every bad mix I’ve done, I’ve learned something that has made me better.)
2) Nothing is “permanent” in the studio. You can always undo a plugin setting or simply re-record the track. No biggie.
3) Compression can make for an interesting effect. I’ve stumbled across countless quirky uses for compression, but I would have never found them if I didn’t take the time to experiment.
4) A compressor has never killed anybody (to my knowledge).
5) If you don’t like the sound of compression on a particular track, you DON’T have to use it. Leave it alone. It’s okay.
6) People can’t tell if you didn’t compress every track in your session…but chances are they could tell if you over-compressed every track.
7) Compression exposes weaknesses in your recording techniques. (Problems tend to show themselves when you slap a compressor on a recording. That’s a good thing if you learn from it.)
8) Compression can make a musician with very inconsistent dynamics sound much more “in control.”
9) Every compressor plugin I’ve ever used came with presets. These are great starting points AND learning tools.
10) You’ll never be able to really spot over-compression in your mixes (a valuable skill) if you don’t spend some time deliberately over-compressing things and taking mental notes of the audible results.
It’s not so scary, right?
Frustrating at times? Sure.
Especially if you really don’t know where to start.
To learn more, check out my Understanding Compression videos.
Joe Gilder is a Nashville-based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.Note that Joe also offers highly effective training courses, including Understanding Compression and Understanding EQ.