A Beginner's Guide to Compression

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A Beginner's Guide to Compression


18 Jan, 2023


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Compression is a technique of reducing the dynamic range in an audio signal. Audio compression helps to make the loud and soft parts more even. It makes it easier for you to hear and understand speech, music, or other types of sound when there are large differences in volume between different sections of a recording. Audio compression is also useful if you want to record something live (a compressor can be used on each channel). Audio compression may cause some distortion, which may be desired or undesired depending on the context. Audio compression can also be used in audio mastering. Audio is often compressed to make it sound better over low-quality PC speakers.

A compressor works by reducing the overall dynamic range of an input signal based on a threshold set by its user (called 'compression ratio'). A compressor with greater than 100:0 ratio will reduce the output level when the input level is above the threshold. Audio compression reduces loud sounds over a user-defined, time-varying amount (called 'attack' and 'release'). The more you compress an audio signal, the more it will sound like its playing through cheap speakers or headphones.

Audio compression can be used to reduce noise in recordings of live performances when the use of noise gates are either not practical or desirable. Audio compression can also be used in mastering for artistic purposes, however it is important to note that over-compression will cause a lo-fi sound.