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Production Tips: HOW TO USE A COMPRESSOR

Many of us use a compressor all the time in our productions, but we don’t really know how it works. A compressor is used to boost the softer parts and lower (attenuate) the louder parts of an audio signal. 

Here are the important knobs you should know about to get you started:

1. Threshold and Ratio: The compressor lowers any peaks of audio signal that cross a certain volume level, or ‘threshold’. The audio signal is lowered according to a ‘ratio’ that you set. For example if you set your compressor to a 2:1 ratio, the audio signal is lowered by 1dB for every 2dBs that it crosses the threshold. 

2. Attack and release: The faster the attack, the fast the compressor activates and squashes the audio signal. The faster the release, the faster the compressor deactivates and the signal is allowed to go back to its normal volume.

3. Makeup Gain (or Gain): This controls the volume of the audio after it has been compressed. Since the compressor lowers the overall volume level, the makeup gain will allow you to bring it back to where it was before. 

Of course there are other knobs on compressors too, but these are the most important ones to focus on to get started, and for you to get a good result from a compressor.

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