How To Use Compressor In Dance Music

How To Use Compressor In Dance Music

Compression is a very important concept when it comes to Dance Music. Entire genres of dance music would not be here with us today if there was no creative use of compression. Here are some tips to use compression effectively by Lost Stories Academy.

What is a Compressor?

The compressor is a device intended for altering, squashing, flattening, or manipulating a signal's dynamic range.  The dynamic range measures the distance between transient peaks and the lowest negative values of the waveform.Compressors serve as a kind of limiter because they protect your sounds from sudden increases in volume that could result in clipping.

It's important to understand how each knob works: 

  • Threshold: Sets the level above which the output of the compressor is compressed, so if it's set to -4dB, only audio above -4dB will be compressed. 
  • Ratio: Sets the ratio between the input and output of the compressor. 
  • Attack & Release: Sets the speed at which the signal is compressed.
  • Knee: The softer the knee, the gentler the transition from out of compression to fully compressed when the signal passes over the threshold. If the knee is hard, then the full compression ratio is applied to ALL of the data above the threshold.
  • Output Gain: Using the output gain at the end of the compression process compensates for the loss of volume when a signal is compressed.

Sidechain Compression

It would be impossible to discuss creative compression techniques without mentioning sidechaining. 

Sidechaining is a feature that makes one sound react to another sound, but are you being inventive in your way of using it?

Don't stick with the standard pairings of a kick drum sidechaining a bassline or pad. 

Try sidechaining the entire mix, or keying a compressor across a reverb with percussion loops, or sidechaining the drums with an entirely different dummy drum track.

Parallel Compression

Parallel compression is such a creative technique in which your original sound is preserved while adding the affected signal or compressed signal to the mix.  For example, you want to add some hard compression but it ruins the audio when you put the compressor in the insert.

Try adding the compressor on of the bus available and send the dry signal to this bus. You will get really good results with this. You can go crazy on the compression in parallel, you just need to control how much of the signal you want to send into the bus.

Suppose you are compressing a signal and the gain reduction is 4dB, remove that compressor and try adding 4 different compressors in parallel and do a 1dB of gain reduction in each of 4 compressors. This will give different tones of different compressors while achieving great results.

Creative Bus Compression

Most of the mixing and production focuses on making their music sound cohesive. Here bus compression plays a vital role to achieve this. We do bus compression to glue the sounds together. The traditional way is to group the drums, harmony, bass, etc., and then process it. 

Try grouping Kick and Bass together or Bass and Pad together and listen to the unique results you achieve.  Obtaining unusual combinations Breathing together can add a lot to the flow of a song. 

Compressing Delay and Reverb

You have heard from a lot of people that we should not compress delay and reverb. But rules are meant to be broken.

  1. If the delay decays completely linearly, we may hear the first echo clearly, but the second may be muffled, and the third may be nearly inaudible. 
  2. If you want your delayed signal to be heard then try using a compressor after the delay to even out the signal.
  3. If you have a short reverb, compress the signal to make the room sound big without using the longer reverb. Sometimes we want the reverb to only activate after the dry signal (Let us say vocals).
  4. Send the dry signal to a reverb bus and add a compressor and sidechain it with the dry sound, it will duck down the reverb when the dry signal is playing and will only play after it making it a more unique effect.

Multiband Compression

Multiband is a great tool and everyone should use it to its full potential. Multiband compressor used in various ways. Do not just use it to compress individual bands. Broad the horizon and try what else you can do with it.

For example, you have a bass that ranges from 45hz to 800hz and you will sidechain it to the kick to avoid the low-end masking but, the amount of sidechaining you need on the low end is more than the amount of sidechaining the mids and highs. 

As we said above we have our bass that ranges from 45hz to 800hz, use a multiband compressor and group it, and sidechain your lows, mids, and highs separately. It will give you more control and a good relation between kick and bass.