Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors
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Old 13-11-2013, 04:32 AM   #1
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Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

I just downloaded the live set for the track sacred frequency by machinedrum found here [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


And I noticed he uses compressors a bunch on everything from shakers/ percussion, to pads and everything. Although he adjusts the ration and the threshold usually to get about 6- 12 db of gain reduction I noticed he always leaves the attack and release to their default settings of 1 ms and 20 ms …. The end result sounds good and tends to have a smearing effect on the sound the extends the perceived tail of each sound, especially since often uses compression further down the chain after reverb.


I have noticed claude vonstroke use the default attack and release settings on compressors also. So whats the deal here? Are these settings not as important as I thought or something when a compressor is used on a consistent pattern of sounds? (i.e. not on a single sound like a kick to make the kick more punchy) Do any of you just leave those settings also? I always thought if you compress a look you were supposed to adjust these to make it breathe in time with the song or something...

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Old 13-11-2013, 10:35 AM   #2
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Re: artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Attack and Release time are material specific yes, these controls help you to alter tone by focusing compression on different portions of a discrete audio event. It may sound ok using standard settings, maybe they didn't have time to delve into fine tuning the compression, maybe they didn't consider it important, maybe they left such things to the downloader, or maybe they don't truly know why you would use a compressor...

Hard to say

Compression is a difficult one because at its most fundamental level it is meant to be a transparent process, this makes it both hard to hear and hard to learn how to employ properly. Attack and Release times are very important yes..The specifics depend on both the material and the way in which you want to modify the tone of the material.

Attack times of 1ms and release times of 20ms will essentially reduce the attack/percussive nature of anything processed through it, your standard settings if I am reading you right. It is possible that this was employed on various elements as a theme, maybe this guy/gal just prefers sounds that don't have any significant percussive nature, it is also possible that he/she was simply making room for other punchy elements to show through that were occurring at the same time,

Again, hard to say.
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Old 13-11-2013, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Maybe he uses high ratio (over ~10:1) and intended it to be a limiter. Maybe he doesn't know what attack and release does.

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Old 13-11-2013, 11:20 AM   #4
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Re: artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

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Originally Posted by Evelon View Post
Maybe he uses high ratio (over ~10:1) and intended it to be a limiter. Maybe he doesn't know what attack and release does.
But it's Machinedruuum . . ..


He's mixing is usually top notch, he has that lo-fi sound though, which is why I think he uses those compressors "wrong" on purpose to get it, especially since some of them are after reverbs.

Edit: man he looks scary in that link :S

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Old 13-11-2013, 12:36 PM   #5
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Re: artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Truth is it's impossibly to know for sure unless you asked him in person his reasoning. I wouldn't think of it in terms of right or wrong usage as such, just personal preference...
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Old 13-11-2013, 10:39 PM   #6
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Re: artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

or maybe it just compressed enough to sound"right" for the download and not his actual settings..

fuel for the fire...

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Old 16-11-2013, 09:12 PM   #7
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

All I know is that when I use a compressor, the first thing I do is turn the attack down to it's lowest setting. I do this because usually I use a compressor to be like a limiter and I don't want any transients peeking through and clipping. But that's me, not the other guy. And it doesn't always work if the compressor only goes down to 20 ms. Sometimes 4 ms is still too slow and then I just use an actual limiter or transient shaper instead.

Similarly, when I use the settings above, I tend to set the release to also be as fast as possible so that the limiting doesn't linger and squash anything other than the high frequency transients. But if I'm compressing something with bass material I might make the release different, but it really depends on the situation. Most of the time the only thing needing limiting is the transients in my tunes. The bass might need compression too, but I do that on the master buss. I know it's wierd, but I just now realised that's how I do (did) it on most of my tunes.

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Old 17-11-2013, 12:29 AM   #8
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

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Originally Posted by DfiledVegan View Post
All I know is that when I use a compressor, the first thing I do is turn the attack down to it's lowest setting. I do this because usually I use a compressor to be like a limiter and I don't want any transients peeking through and clipping. But that's me, not the other guy. And it doesn't always work if the compressor only goes down to 20 ms. Sometimes 4 ms is still too slow and then I just use an actual limiter or transient shaper instead.

Similarly, when I use the settings above, I tend to set the release to also be as fast as possible so that the limiting doesn't linger and squash anything other than the high frequency transients. But if I'm compressing something with bass material I might make the release different, but it really depends on the situation. Most of the time the only thing needing limiting is the transients in my tunes. The bass might need compression too, but I do that on the master buss. I know it's wierd, but I just now realised that's how I do (did) it on most of my tunes.
This is wise! a professional mixing engineer at a workshop once told me this as well! Apparently in the digital world the transients poke through too much so this in one of the main things they do to minimize that!
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Old 17-11-2013, 04:21 AM   #9
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

what if you want the transients to poke through? its wise then to use a slower attack. or if you are trying to get your drums to be more punchy? i can think of a ton of reasons to have a slow attack on a compressor, as well as a slow release

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Old 18-11-2013, 10:44 PM   #10
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Icon12 Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

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Originally Posted by Parricide View Post
what if you want the transients to poke through? its wise then to use a slower attack. or if you are trying to get your drums to be more punchy? i can think of a ton of reasons to have a slow attack on a compressor, as well as a slow release
Yeah, you're correct also. You mention some other uses of a compressor. The funny thing is, I didn't even think much about using a compressor to do what you are talking about for several years after learning what a compressor is and how to use them. My mind just got stuck on the uses releated to useable dynamic range, companding, and limiting types of uses.

But yeah, you're right too. Everybody wins!

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Old 19-11-2013, 01:01 AM   #11
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

bro..


do you even attack?




on-topic: a relatively fast attack and release will always sound quite good if the threshold is not too low and no matter what the ratio is and the actual sound/material is

but yeah.. it should be adjusted accordingly
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Old 19-11-2013, 04:55 AM   #12
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

i think of a compressor as a tool for shaping dynamics, rather than just squashing them.

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Old 21-11-2013, 07:06 AM   #13
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Maybe that's why he is one of the top guys. - Thinking out of the box.

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Old 24-11-2013, 12:19 PM   #14
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Maybe we're all reading too far in between the lines. What if he really doesn't have any idea of what he is doing and he just got "lucky" that his mix just sits together well regardless of not understanding compression?

I love Machinedrum and his mixing is top-notch, but there are plenty of producers/mixing engineers that have no (technical) idea of what they are doing and still get great results. Use your ears people, if the default preset works for you - It works for you!
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Old 24-11-2013, 09:19 PM   #15
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

Everything mentioned in the topic thus far has been pretty much spot on. I have been lecturing this stuff in University for a long time and have met many a professional producer that still don't truly understand the intricacies of using a compressor.... Doesn't necessarily alter the fact that they can get a good sound, and that's is all that matters really I suppose, although knowing the behaviour and relationship between the various controls really does open up a lot of tonal control not available with other processes.

Last edited by evengravy; 24-11-2013 at 09:27 PM..
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Old 25-11-2013, 12:00 AM   #16
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Re: Artists just using default attack and release settings on compressors

After reading some of the stuff that some people post on here, using default settings for things does not shock me in the slightest.

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