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Compression and EQ

Printed From: Producertech
Category: Music Production General
Forum Name: General Producer and DJ Chat
Forum Discription: Where everyone can discuss anything music related
Printed Date: 18 Aug 2019 at 12:09pm

Topic: Compression and EQ
Posted By: RobJones
Subject: Compression and EQ
Date Posted: 16 Feb 2012 at 10:47am
Whether to compress and EQ everything is a question I get asked a lot! Here are some guidelines...

Compression is a tool that allows you to control the dynamic range of a signal, e.g. how much the level goes up and down. The original reason for doing this was when recording to make sure the signal didn't get too loud and cause overloads. When mixing it can help make a signal stand out more, as compressing the signal so that its loud peaks are reduced means that the whole signal can then be safely turned up, to make it louder. Flattening the signal in large amounts can make a signal a lot fatter but you run the risk of losing some punchiness as the transients become less defined, e.g. the loud bursts at the start of sounds don't have as much impact as they did. However, there are ways of restoring this such as mixing a little of the uncompressed signal back in and so on.

Compression can also be used to add character to a signal, as some compressors have their own distinctive sound, or to fuse parts together, so you don't always have to apply it heavily. Some light compression can sometimes be nice on your final mix, for example, setting a low threshold but with a low ratio, so the gain is only being adjusted slightly, but is being applied to the whole signal.

Whether you apply compression to a track or not is normally dependent on its level. Some sounds from instruments or samples may be sufficiently loud enough already, or have already been compressed, in which case there's no real point. You can typically tell this by looking at the track meter or at the signal's waveform - if it doesn't go up and down much then I shouldn't bother compressing, unless you want to apply sidechain compression that is, which actually increases the dynamic range in a flat signal to give it more energy, so works the other way! (this is covered at the start of the advanced course.) However, on a drum sampler track that you're creating a beat with, you should definitely compress it, which will help to make your beat fatter and bring all the drum samples together.

EQ is an equally important tool, as shaping the frequencies of your tracks is essential to make sure they fit together well and the mix doesn't become muddy or crowded. I tend to EQ pretty much all my tracks in most mixes, unless it changes the character of a track in a detrimental way. Most tracks without EQ will contain too many frequencies, so will need filtering or EQing (if you use a filter then there's less you can do - simply rolling off the top or bottom or passing/rejecting a single band, but sometimes this is all it needs). Once you start EQing your tracks, you realize that without the EQ, everything sounds flat and certain frequency areas, especially those that the ear is most sensitive to (1-5kHz or so) can become messy.

I always stress that it's just as important to attenuate (cut) than boost, if not more so. However, it's also a good idea to boost the bottom and top end on some tracks, such as bass and drums, so they sound fatter (more bass) and clearer (more treble). As such, I often filter off or remove the bass on a lot of tracks, to ensure there's room for the bass and kick drum to punch through, making sure they don't become too thin in the process.

Lead parts you can try EQing more imaginatively to add some different resonances perhaps, whilst making sure there are no clashes with other parts. You normally want a sound to have its own uniqueness and character, to make it well defined. Corrective EQ can also be applied though, helping to reduce middle frequencies if a track is too honky, or boost them if it needs more presence, or lessen any unwanted resonances.... etc.


Posted By: OGRC
Date Posted: 15 Mar 2012 at 2:35am
 I'm still an amature as far as I'm concerned,but when  I write my songs I use compression to reduce my peaks in my waveform, a few times depending on how many tracks I have to mix.And with that You can see how much it controls the signal movement! I couldn't agree more with this post! This is the kind of information I learn from!!Clap

Posted By: tscoolberth
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2012 at 8:45pm
Been hotly debating this issue with myself.  It's hard enough to write songs, mix them and then attempt to master after the dust has settled .... but I have added the whole Dynamic Range / Loudness War issue to the mix.  The War is particularly hot in the rock n' roll world which is a more tradition bound than what I see happening in techno.  In the world of heavy metal there's quite a bit of splitting the difference .. where guys send drums/guitar/bass to return tracks and compress the snot out of 'em while simultaneously sending through an uncompressed signal and then, I guess, using ones ears to blend the two.
On the mastering end ... I'm wary of compression .... It's hard enough avoiding sounding like squashed mud with all the distorted guitars and whatnot. For now I'm focusing on mixing the best i can with modest EQing .
In the end, in my newbie state, I'm just avoiding the brickwall look to these songs when the wav form gets uploaded to soundcloud/or whatever .. I want the listener to crank up the volume of their machine and avoid any semblance of digital clipping.  I don't trust my ears as they've been conditioned by squashed music for years and years and I've chosen sides in the Loudness War against the mega-compressed maniacs. (again none of this criticism applies to techno)


Posted By: SafeandSound
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2012 at 2:20pm
I was going to start a topic like this as I wrote a couple of article so to add to your explanations of when to use eq and compression these may assist with how at a basic level..... I may as well pop it in here if thats cool ..." rel="nofollow - Audio compression tips

Also a text about :" rel="nofollow - How to eq


PS I could not a 60pixel avatar to upload only 3kb ? thx

SafeandSound Mastering

Posted By: RobJones
Date Posted: 08 Apr 2012 at 2:22pm
Good stuff!

Posted By: Yuroun
Date Posted: 11 May 2012 at 7:05pm
As with everything: Less is more ;-) Don't over compress things :-)

Posted By: tscoolberth
Date Posted: 12 May 2012 at 2:26am
Whoa, I've learned so much in the last month.  Now I'm aggressively EQ and really fighting those overlapping frequencies ..... but, yes, taking things in their proper order.


Posted By: RobinWilliams
Date Posted: 10 Aug 2012 at 12:52pm
I was browsing from since morning in search of music notes in that search sudden i got your post its really nice and interesting also.

-------------" rel="nofollow - Jingles Production | <a href="" rel="nofollow">Jingle

Posted By: tscoolberth
Date Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 12:52pm
Man, compression and EQ could be a whole course unto itself.


Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 1:03pm
Well what do ya know me old Buddy

you checked out the music yet?

Posted By: RobJones
Date Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 1:42pm
yeah, there are some compression and EQ courses on there already. I wouldn't mind making my own though too.....

Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 2:33pm
best get Uber busy then Rob LOL

with that and with live 9 on its way & maybe some max for live .... and .... and ... and.... demand Ouch

Posted By: tscoolberth
Date Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 2:32pm
Originally posted by RobJones RobJones wrote:

yeah, there are some compression and EQ courses on there already. I wouldn't mind making my own though too.....

I was hoping you'd sense that business opportunity.Clap

Another idea, a quick cheap course on the Live 9 as you get it sorted out. Sell it podcast style on Itunes.


Posted By: edesk
Date Posted: 13 Mar 2013 at 12:54pm
EQ and compression that presents the boot drum its ability to stand out in a mix. starting with EQ, the best way to accentuate the lows and highs is to eliminate some low-mids. I'm a big believer in chopping as opposed to increasing EQ to accomplish a yearned effect." rel="nofollow - Online Education System 

Posted By: maxamil
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2013 at 2:27am
Compression is very good to use. I have always had a problem with using compression to make my drums hit harder.

Check out my beats

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Date Posted: 26 Mar 2014 at 11:47pm
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Posted By: newboy83
Date Posted: 10 Apr 2014 at 1:57pm
can anybody explain the difference in a limiter and a compressor please?? i understand fully the principles in the original post but how does limiting differ to removing peaks through compression?? also could anybody briefly describe the benefits of using a maximiser with the limiter turned on over a compressor and when this would be used???

Thanks again

Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 11 Apr 2014 at 7:19pm
compression enhances the signal...  the threshold ....this is a controlled way of compressing the peaks... and the gain is to compensate the reduction in volume

a limiter is more of a safe guard against unexpected peaks...and should be a last resort turning this up... uneducated persons who use this use this to drive up the loudness of the sound and kill the bottom end of a mix and causes distortion in the all the frequencies... basically making your ears bleed

Posted By: RobJones
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 4:07pm
yes, a limiter is a compressor, just with a brick wall setting, e.g. the ratio set to max/infinity:1. So, the signal should never go over the threshold.

A maximiser isn't so black and white. There are lots of different maximisers and they all behave differently, despite having the same basic aim. Some apply a lot more harmonics to the sound, so they could be considered to be more like saturators in some ways, whereas others a essentially more like simply limiters. I think some may also be expanders, which is like a reverse compressor, so when the signal falls below a certain level, it's turned up. This way, the overall loudness is increased rather than decreased as with a compressor, which needs to be turned down afterwards - the end result is again quite similar though as it ends up with a flatter signal. So, basically it depends on the maximiser!

Posted By: fundancekid
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 5:00pm
are you  a top producer for fun or money think off starting myself not bragging pal but i know tech house like nobody else think i could take it a lot deeper dont know maybe already done either that or interested in making new sound or i might just make some big club bangers or i might hit the dancefloor again aint been clubbing 17 years would love to ride the 16 bubble again i dont think i am welcome in the scene anyway might just hav a crack at afew tunes

Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 6:12pm
darren i beg to differ on all you know on tech house NEVER HEARD OF YOU PAL!!!!... you can have your bragging rights when you astound us with a release or 10

judging by the complete nonsense i have just read .... i would say 'come back down to earth my space friend'

Posted By: RobJones
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 9:00am
music production should always be for the fun. If you make money in addition to that then great. If money is the main focus, it's likely to stop being music eventually.

if you're feeling tech house then go for it, and as Dave says, post up any links here - we'll be happy to feedback...

Posted By: fundancekid
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2014 at 7:49pm
ha ha ha ha ha best joke have heard in ages how long you been in the scene pal . If**king locked tech house pal they would be no tech house with out me i will brag all house is something very special.nobs like you dont know fuk all i was nocking that techouse together when i was 16 years old for free it made me the worlds number club dancer. in 1997 i made carl cox the worlds number one dj people like you think you f**k all you wanna see what i can do with tech house i will show you what it was really made for i scare the f**king sh*t out of you if you never heard of darren alderson aka the fundance kid dont f**king touch it was not made for people to be cool it was made for special reasons so make your tunes on your computers i make em with me bare hands dont f**k with the big boys pal something i am you will never be sorry pal but you really pissed me off look forward to your reply

Posted By: fundancekid
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2014 at 7:57pm
take this piss out off me again i rip your f**king balls of thats how serious i take tech house

Posted By: fundancekid
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2014 at 9:30pm
i wish i was a top producer like now everthing ClapClapClapClapClapClapClap

Posted By: RobJones
Date Posted: 08 Jun 2014 at 1:29pm
well you certainly have a strange attitude. I'm not particularly distressed about your equally weird private message to me saying you're not planning on writing on 'hear' anymore. You certainly add nothing to this forum, other than a crazy, seemingly crack-addled MC-style rant about how amazing you are with literally no evidence to back that up. This forum is about sharing knowledge and really learning about production, which I have been dedicated to for the last 17 years, so if you're not here to contribute to that in some way, then you can f**k off pal!

Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 14 Jun 2014 at 5:53pm
word up dumbdancekid... thanks for an equally amusing private message... i did set a block on your IP address SUSPENDED YOUR ACCOUNT... but now i have read this thread and the comment Rob made and not yet BANNED you.. i have reinstated your account for our amusement...

deliver the goods pal or DO 1!!! NO PRO would come on hear hurling abuse like this on a school for learning forum.... you may be a washed up has been... looking for some one to stroke your ego....  cause no one you know wants anything to do with you
and quite frankly neither do i...speak to us with your truly mind blowing music rather than bigging yourself up about how great you are

Posted By: long123
Date Posted: 13 Jul 2015 at 7:11am
 I'm still an amature as far as I'm concerned,but when  I write my songs I use compression to reduce my peaks in my waveform, a few times depending on how many tracks I have to mix.And with that You can see how much it controls the signal movement! I couldn't agree more with this post! This is the kind of information I learn from!!

Posted By: crystal20
Date Posted: 19 Nov 2015 at 10:59am
I'm just avoiding the brickwall look to these songs when the wav form gets uploaded to soundcloud/or whatever .. I want the listener to crank up the volume of their machine and avoid any semblance of digital clipping.Smile

Posted By: morganlefaye
Date Posted: 19 Nov 2015 at 3:43pm
If you have not yet added any mastering chain to a track ... For initial response purposes to your track you might want to add a limiter to your master channel.. Very simple and effective

Posted By: crystal20
Date Posted: 21 Nov 2015 at 7:34am
Good Stuff :) :)

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Date Posted: 08 Jan 2019 at 1:23pm
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