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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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I have never used any compression or EQ on any of my mouthpiece audio samples because I want people to hear the raw sound on the clips. Is compression something I should or shouldn't be using? Does it affect the tone or sound in any way? I just recorded two tracks. One with compression and one without and the one with compression seems more smooth and even. I can't really hear a difference besides that. I'm just wondering if I should be using it on my mouthpiece clips or not. thanks, Steve
 

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Don't change now. You've built such a huge library of sounds with the method you've been using. The reference point everyone has is you're playing and sound.

I think it would just be confusing having to label every new recording and the way you've already been doing it sounds great.
 

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Compression affects dynamic range, so nothing is "too loud" or "too quiet". I'd go without it in your case.
 

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Compression can change the sound if you use it in a way that might do that, but very often moderate compression is just altering dynamics and so no real change in perceived tone.

Possibly the most obvious thing it can do on a solo instrument is change the balance between the initial attack and the sustained sound so that may well alter what people perceive, but depending on how you articulate.

When applied to a whole track it basically irons out the dynamics overall, but I often use multi band compression to work on individual frequency bands separately. This can actually sound quite different and be quite a creative substitute for EQ, but there is a lot to learn about doing it tastefully - you don't just "add compression." Unless you really know what you are doing and understand the parameters: threshold, knee, ratio etc then I would avoid using it.
 

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From listening to your clips, you already use compression - that is, you make an effort to keep your volume even. Compression can make a big difference in how a track "sits" in the mix, like bringing it forward without it seeming louder, but since you are recording a solo performance, and you have a nice, strong and even sound, for your mouthpiece clips it's really useless. It may "smooth it out" some, but I for one want to hear the full dynamic range.
 

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No put not effects on your clips. Because many of us compare two piece by your recordings and decide what it does to your tone or how easy it seems to play. Dont add the extra element. K
 

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Record raw and keep your raw files. Once altered, if you lose the original, you may not be able to get that original back, but you can always alter that original.
Make a copy to play with, and have fun trying compression and other effects, see what you enjoy. But again, keep the copy of your raw recording! Apparently your fans want those.
If of interest, what follows is a summary that I made when studying compression:

Compression works by taking the loudest parts of the waveform it is assigned to and reducing the gain, bringing it more into line with the quieter parts of the waveform. There are three main reasons that you will want to use compression.
1. One is to even out a sound that is uneven in its volume levels. a wide variation in volume. By compressing the louder parts down, the producer (or the sound guy in a live setting) can set a level for the vocals and leave it there, knowing that things won't get too loud or quiet. Other instruments that can benefit from this include acoustic and bass guitars, as well as drums.
2. The second, related use is to increase loudness. Because compression reduces the peak levels of the signal, you can increase the gain on a live or recorded track without causing overdrive or distortion. That way, everything can be made deafeningly loud without anything peaking or distorting. This has certainly been overdone on occasion, listen to the Foo Fighters' “All My Life” or the Deftones' “Minerva” for examples of over-compressed mastering. Both those songs have quiet introductions and burst into life when the drums come in, but because the main parts of those songs have been compressed down to match the level of the intros, and then had everything turned up to 11, those moments don't have as much impact – in fact it almost seems as if everything gets quieter when the full band comes in, the exact opposite of what you'd expect and of what you'd experience in a live setting. Compression for loudness is often used live, especially for bass guitar. A slap/pop bassline will have huge peaks as the strings slap off the frets, and without compression you'd have to set the levels for the bass guitar unacceptably low just to prevent the pops peaking and possibly blowing the speakers. With compression, those peaks are reigned in and you can turn up the volume so that the quieter parts of the bassline are audible as well.
3. A third use of compression is to make tonal changes, especially to drums (and sometimes acoustic guitar), by manipulating the percussive attack (the “transient”) of each hit (or strum). More on that below.

Threshold: This is the level (counting down from 0dB as the maximum possible extent of the waveform) at which the compressor will start to reduce gain. Set it high, and the compressor will only quieten the very loudest peaks. Set it low, and the compressor will cut into even medium-gain peaks and reduce the gain of much more of the waveform – in effect, it will make the quieter sounds in the waveform (those below the threshold) sound louder rather than make the loud ones seem quieter.

Ratio: This is the extent to which the peaks above the threshold will be reduced. Set at “infinity”, the compressor will not allow any sound that is louder than the threshold to go past – this turns the compressor into a “limiter”. Limiting can cause distortion if it is cutting too deeply into the tops of the waveforms, though some plugins, especially specialist limiters, have features designed to reduce this. Otherwise, the ratio determines how squashed the signal above the threshold should be, ie a ratio of 3:1 means that a peak above the threshold of 3dB would be reduced to 1dB etc.

Soft Knee: Some compressors have a setting that tells the compressor to start gently compressing before the threshold is reached. This helps reduce distortion and other artefacts from high-ratio compression or limiting, at the expense of slightly greater gain reduction and slightly reduced loudness. Some compressors, particularly “vintage” or analogue-style compressors, do this automatically as part of the way they work.

Makeup Gain: As discussed at the start, compression makes things quieter, but one of its chief uses is to make things louder. To achieve this, most compressors have a “makeup gain” control which lets you add gain after the compression stage to achieve the compression/loudness process all in one plugin. Most such compressors let you either choose the amount of gain you add or have an “auto” setting to bring it back to the average or peak gain before compression.

Attack/Release: These controls set the length of delay between a signal passing the threshold and being compressed, and the length of time that the compression lasts for. These can make big tonal differences to the sound created, and in particular, are the most important controls when using compression to manipulate transients. Careful use of the attack and release controls lets you either emphasise or reduce the attack of instruments (or, looking at it another way, emphasising or reducing the sustain) of instruments with strong and distinctive attack characteristic, notably drums, but also acoustic guitar and bass. The process of how to achieve this is quite difficult without audio examples, so I've created a short audio guide to doing this.
 

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Tremendously interesting and useful post, saxman55. Thank you!
 

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Pleased to hear it. In truth it should have references as it was gathered from various sources, but I took notes reading for my edification. Apologies to those that I plagiarized!
 

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I’d say not to do it on your reviews. Your recordings sound good enough, and as mentioned it can alter your attack, and the response of the piece, and if you start to squish it it will alter the openness, or lack of. Some pieces have a natural openness and some have a natural compressed sounding quality. Why alter those if trying to represent it? If it’s for something other than a review, why not if you like the way it sounds. I feel that compression is best used in a small enough dose to where you don’t notice it. Some people are really heavy handed with it to where you hear it pumping and breathing, like it’s an effect. A little stereo compression strapped across the stereo bus can really help a mix.
 
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