More Energy in Acoustic Instruments


Compression & Dynamics Master Class


Lesson Info

More Energy in Acoustic Instruments

So let's take this concept of using a fast attack to get a certain effect in this case fattening up snare let's go the opposite direction let's try to make something not fatter but let's say we want to make something stick out in the mix more and be more punchy and in this case I'm going do it on acoustic guitar this is also really helpful on pianos things that I think are very transient heavy instruments that you want to in a dense mix you want them you want to feel them jumping out of the mix, right? So in this song in particular get rid of this setting bring this back in this song in particular I've got one accused to guitar and it is not the most important instrument in the mix right of all these other guitars let's bring in the rest the band you hear this you don't think accused to guitar but there is one accused the guitar kind of giving it some texture. So in this case the accused two guitars right here so it's not like like a nice james taylor song where the acoustic guitar is ...

the feature piece in this case it's just adding a nice texture you know the electric guitars or the over driven you know its thing and this is going to give it that strumming this but in the mix a lot of times acoustic guitars once you start adding all these other instruments specially if you have elektronik instruments since strings layered vocals towards the end of the song here I've got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, nine vocals and oregon six electric guitars you know, you get those thick layers all of a sudden the acoustic guitar gets lost and I don't need to be feature, but I wanted to cut through the mix. How do you make the crew's guitar more punchy on what we're gonna do is take a compressor and just use the opposite attack setting to do a different thing? Um, so I've already got my settings here and you can see and I'm gonna replicate this, but what we've done is I've got almost a two to one ratio, a slower attack like it's the knobs to the right where's before on the snare drum ahead it over here trying to really clamp down the transient. In this case, I want to let plenty of the transient come through. So if we're talking about transients in this case, we're looking at this accused the guitar. I don't want to squash the transients because I don't want to lose that strumming actually want mohr of that strumming, so a compressor by nature is clamping down on transients. So if you get you think like this is a backwards like if you want the trains in it to pop through, you shouldn't compress it all but this's, the problem is, if I just turn up the accused a guitar, it could get too loud still needed to be contained. They don't want to jump out of the speakers and take over that's the beauty of the compressors you can keep things contained enough where they don't jump out too much, but we're in these slow attack um, fast release to make this acoustic pop so let's see what my threshold setting is here, theo compressor bypass. But just look at the meters here. So let's let's try to replicate this from scratch. Let's, get a canoe compressor. Well, that's, um, do a two to one ratio. I need to do too much compression here. Um, let's, dial down the threshold and see what's going on here even slower attack, which means I'll probably have to pull the threshold down. A little bit of a slower attack is it's letting more audio through so it's probably not going to compress much so probably have to dallas threshold down a little bit so it doesn't get more of the audio. So the bigger, bigger strums I'm doing about three d b what I probably want to do to is on this release I probably want to make a pretty fast released just think about this visually I don't want to clamp down too fast here that would be a fast attacks really is probably gonna clamp down after the transition a little bit um and then I don't want to stay clamped too much necessarily because I wanted to get ready for the next transit because it's happened pretty fast so it's gonna let the initial peak stay it's not going to turn those down it's going to turn down just after it and still control it a little bit, but then I can bring up the volume a little bit of the acoustic guitar in general with the makeup gain and what we're going to get his perceived mohr transient because I'm basically just turning up the transience but also still keeping the acoustic guitar contained a little bit so let's, get back tio course here my loudest peak is minus three maybe I'll bring up the game like one d b one and a half because most of it's not being turned down by three d b we'll see if the output meter matches the little louse let's do one d b of makeup game playing, and I'm asked to do it so I don't need to turn it up too much and again, I don't want to make my tracks louder, output, physical edge, one of level match it to where it was before, but now process different. I was just turning up to gain a little bit. I'm watching the input now put meters, so it doesn't sound like we've done much, I'm going solo in, so I'm going to bypass the compressor on the case of guitar and bring it back on so you can hear what it's doing and then really what matters is will try to do this in the mix and see what we're getting here is with the compression. Can you hear that subtle difference? Like it seems like the acoustic guitar strums or a little more up front, a little more present let's listen to in the mix again, this is hard because there's a lot going on in this mix try to focus on the cues that guitar and then listened for it and then listen to what happens when I bypassed the compression. Could you hear the difference? We'll goto with this accused a guitar? Think of it as the texture it's like the metal strumming that that the reason why it's in this mix like the the electric guitar strings it's the same notes it's not going to jump out but it's like you hear it when you hear like this pick hitting those metal strings it's bypassing the compressors bypass I don't I don't hear that acoustic guitar at all personally when I bring in the compressor all of a sudden I can almost gauge that that texture pop it and if we go to uh let's just do the intro says no vocals here could you hear that a little bit better I know it's subtle because again this isn't the main instrument it's trying to bring out the acoustic a little bit more without just having to turn up the volume because if I turn up the volume sometimes that might be the perfect solution for a moment the song and then sometimes it's too much that's what I love about a compressor as I can make sure that nothing is going to jump out of the speaker's you know you go to a live show you listen to a great record nothing ever seems to jump out too much and go whoa that base got really loud for a second you know it's always the perfect volume for every moment of the song and it's impossible for that to happen in real life without a compressor because music has so much dynamics instruments are all over the place so we use compressors too set boundaries for an instrument don't go too much above this stay in the zone and then we can use it to also bring up the game to bring down the game, but in a contained way contained gain that's my favorite phrase and in essence, is what I'm trying to do here on this acoustic guitar member by itself it's like this compression super subtle this is just that little inch of mixed acoustic pop out a little bit more, you could push it a little bit more to you could do a little more compression makeup to gain a little bit more, change the attack and release settings, but we're not making it a fat acoustic guitar. We're not going to try to kill the transience. We just want to actually emphasize the trains with a slow attack setting, so I'm sure we got some questions, but the reason why I want to show you that snare drum and then this accused of guitar and this is definitely truth pianos. I do this all the time with piano tracks it's a great way to make the piano in a dense mix with lots of guitars or strings, and you want that nice percussive as it makes a piano cool is it's hitting the keys? Ah slow attack setting compression on a piano can make that piano pop out nicely in the mix, where you feel it not just here, but you feel it nicely, and I want to show you how when people ask what's the point of attack and release, I like to think of fast attack is squeezing and fattening up things, and slow attack is letting trains its pop out more so we have one from rich in the uk and he says, would you ever stack these two methods meaning one compressor, making it fatter and then the next on top of it to make it punch here? Interesting? I feel like that would be very weird. I mean, you could like because you're too smart for you coming up a scenario where they come from all different ones everybody's got a different we'll have time in my life to think of these scenarios that I like him let's, see so you could squeeze the transient. That problem is, if you use the first setting fast attack, you've already killed some of your transient so it's a less transient heavy piece of audio now now, if he tried to a fast attack there's only but so much transient toe let through because it's all louder, it's all more squash, so it almost defeats the purpose, I think, um, but I can't say that one hundred percent certainty because I've never had a need to do that. All right, well here's another question as we start to get into some different instruments here it's from marcy but we had a few other people also vote on this one as a film composer I always had the theory that since the violin is based on dynamic it's, adding compressor on a violin would destroy the sound is that accurate or can we compress strings and if so how would you go about it? That's a great question um again like with the first session we talked about earlier I don't want you to be afraid of a compressor because a compressor on lee will kill dynamics as much as you let it and if you think of the compressor as our automatic volume control then and then I can answer the question would you ever want to automatically control the volume of ah violin absolutely if the violin was played in a perfect volume you wouldn't need to so if it was a nice pretty consider it's going to be dynamic but even if in a performance even orchestral music if it got super loud super quiet but it was enough that nothing seemed to be distracting and it was an acceptable dynamic range for your ears a listener you wouldn't need any compression but if you felt like a couple of bows on the violin has jumped out to much of the string it was like a little too much of a hit you could either you some volume automation on that one moment or you could slap a compressor on have a really high threshold so it's actually not compressing ninety percent ninety five percent of the violin track and it's only going to compress the little bit that goes over the threshold and it's just going you could choose it to just turn out a little bit so no one would ever know that it was compressed because it wouldn't sound squashed. You'd only be taming it's this that the little automatic volume control guy in the box like just bringing down the fader every once in a while when that violin gets little too crazy, which could be a very good things and you could have a nice dynamic performance that's but it's just taken the dynamic range of here and bringing it here it's a little more palatable and then if you wanted the overall performance to be a little louder, you can do that now because it's the peaks or contained so yes, I think there's probably more compression than you realize on some tracks where the strings but you wouldn't notice it because it's not squashing all the dynamic it's not either or it's not either you have dynamic or use a compression compressor and you don't have dynamics that's that's in this no more use compression to contain the dynamics a little bit and you have complete control over that. How much you want to contain it? So if it needed it, sure, I would use compression on strings. Do I use compression on strength? Sometimes? Absolutely. Especially if it's very all over the place.

Class Description

Use compression and dynamics to their fullest potential.

In the Compression & Dynamics Master Class with Graham Cochrane you’ll learn basic compression concepts and how to apply them. Graham will teach you all about threshold, attack, release, ratio, makeup gain, peak, and RMS and how to control them in your mix. You’ll also learn how to use compression to control levels or use it as an effect.

You already know that compression matters to your mix, learn how to manage it with precision.


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