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Thread: Slow attack issues

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    Slow attack issues

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    Hi everyone, i know there's so much to say about compressors and i would like to learn and expand my knowledge about them.
    i think i understand the basics of compressions, but as i kept using it i found that my choises are almost always the same.

    I use it mostly with a fast attack to reduce peaks and to increase the rms of a track, in order to not lose it in the mix and make it more present, mainly on voices and instruments, always carefull not to push it too hard. I opt for slow attack only when i need punchier drums, on kicks and snares, but not much else.

    If i set a slow attack the compressor is going to let the transients come through and compress the tail of the sound, no? So why would i want it, for example, on voices, that for the most need to be clear and in front of a mix? or instruments?

    ps. i'm not english native, i tried my best to be understandable

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    Sounds like you get it. Some instruments, percussion especially, are more noted for their attack sound than what comes after. In fact, you might want to supress what comes after the attack if it's unpleasant ringing, or just contributing sonic energy where other instruments should be more present. That's what slow attack is for.

    But, I never use "zero" attack on an instrument or voice - at least not on the primary/first compressor that would be there for the kind of leveling and (almost as important) quality of whichever compressor I'm using. Too fast is going to sound unnatural in most music (IMO). If you've got a real problem [singer/player] of course, it might be necessary, but I'd probably play with the knee a bit, or use a second compressor just specifically for the peaks that slipped by. Or, you might use a limiter that's part of the compressor if that works for you. Ultimately, let your ears decide.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    You use a compressor on vocals to smooth out the volume and cut any unwanted volume spikes.

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    A faster (meaning shorter) attack on a vocal will make it pop out of the mix more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chetubesca View Post
    I use it mostly with a fast attack to reduce peaks and to increase the rms of a track...

    .......

    If i set a slow attack the compressor is going to let the transients come through and compress the tail of the sound, no? So why would i want it, for example, on voices, that for the most need to be clear and in front of a mix? or instruments?

    If you think of a compressor as more than a tool for making things louder...the other settings become more obvious.
    Think if of them also as a coloring box....plus, there's more than one kind of compressor...so they all have/add their own distinct sound and they can act differently on a signal even if you have the numbers set the same.

    Slower settings are more natural...could be more preferable on mix buses...and it's not just the attack...the release time is of equal importance.

    You should try different sources with different compressor settings, and different compressor types.

    Also...there's no need to always use a compressor. So if the track sounds good without one, don't put one on it just because you think it will always make it better.

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    thank you for answering! i agree about avoiding the 'zero' attack, and on the fact that there's no need to always use compressors. indeed i always try to think first why, and for which result, i'm going to put a compressor on a track. you're right, i didn't think of it as a coloring sound, maybe because i used more 'transparent' kinds and didn't hear many differences in the sound, anyway i'll try!

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    If you use fast attack and fast release, you are going to make the instrument "speak" for a longer amount of time. Which will make it stick out in a mix.

    With slower attack and release, you will make the instrument "speak" for a shorter amount of time. This makes it more percussive.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Everyone’s answers are good but the most important part of the compressor IMO is the ratio. Regardless of fast or slow the attack is, you can control the intensity of that attack through the ratio. I almost always use fast attack on my compressors all the time on individual tracks. For mastering or on the main buss I’ll use much slower settings, for more or a smoothing.

    But for individual tracks, you’re mainly compressing them to bring them out in the mix and to make them thicker, warmer and punchier. You can have fast attacks, and if you keep the ratio below 3:1, you’ll be fine. Once you get beyond that, you can really hear the difference in attack. The lower the ratio, the more subtle the compression will squash and color the sound. How the ratio reacts is all based on the specific comp you are using.

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    If you want to push something up in the mix set the release toward the fast end of the scale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    If you want to push something up in the mix set the release toward the fast end of the scale.
    Yep Comp '101 'IN YOUR FACE

    And now we have Release as front back control
    Placebo stomps 96k ....... Recent projects
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