What is the Compressor Thingy Doing - Anyway

Commercial songs are recorded in expensive studios for a reason. Yes, they have top notch gear, but they are also incredibly quiet. Not only are environmental noises reduced past the threshold of hearing, but internal systems like air conditioning and plumbing are also designed to be quiet as possible. This is absolutely necessary because modern popular music is highly compressed. Most individual instrument tracks are processed, and the resulting mix often ends up being run through at least one stage of compression during mastering.

If you isolate a single drum microphone and listen to the track after raw Air Conditioner Compressor Guys, you will hear amazing things. Squeaky foot pedals, noise from the cymbal stands, grunting and worst of all: other drums that suddenly sound almost as loud as the one you wanted to isolate.

Take that same track recorded in the typical home environment, and it gets even more interesting. Between beats of this incredibly loud floor tom, you will hear the air conditioner kick in, the TV in the other room, whirring of computer fans, and worst of all: traffic outside.

Suddenly you are faced with the prospect of having given yourself a lot more work trying to ~remove~ these elements from your track, and that's just one track. The typical song will take 16 or more tracks, and the noise on all of them will add up. Is it worth it? Just for kicks you turn off the compressor and listen again: the background noises are once again insignificant, but all those undertones that make the instrument ~jump~ out bigger than life are gone too.

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