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Do you use compression in your ambient tracks?

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  • Do you use compression in your ambient tracks?

    I ask this question because in pop/rock/dance genres using comression seems always to be nessesary to get a consistent volume level.

    Bu in creating ambient music I rarely use compressors. Maybe I do something wrong?

    So, do you use compression in your ambient tracks?
    ahornberg.bandcamp.com
    soundcloud.com/ahornberg

  • #2
    I rarely use a compressor lately, but I do use a limiter, Pro-L to be specific, just to tame the peaks a bit, not to squash everything into oblivion... Even with my ambient stuff there are sometimes the odd rogue peak here and there, especially with some of the effects I use and Pro-L is my tool of choice, rather than manually catching high levels. I guess that makes me a bit lazy, I cannot deny that
    I may not post anything useful, but at least I do it often

    Latest release - Anomaly available on Bandcamp


    Bandcamp // SoundCloud // YouTube

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    • #3
      I don't use compressors. The last thing I want is a consistent volume level.
      | Bandcamp | Hearthis | website |


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      • #4
        I will use them occasionally, on things featuring guitar or highly resonant filters; the typical setup being placed before a huge reverb to level out inconsistencies in playing.

        Mixing there might be one on the master bus that barely registers, more likely to not though.

        When first learning to mix ITB, I overused them often.

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        • #5
          I have sometimes tried to use a compressor to limit peaks. Never to my satisfaction really, they work...but when they work well on the peaks, they reduce the dynamic range. Unacceptably to me usually. I really try to capitalize on the existing dynamics-when one sound naturally goes low, I like to use that 'hole' to allow another sound to emerge. Once tracks get too compressed, the holes are gone :(.
          i have not found a limiter yet that isn't even worse at squashing the dynamic range. I have resorted to using volume automation to create volume notches where there are bad peaks, but that's time consuming. U-he Satin, and, I imagine, other tape saturation plug-ins can work to slightly reduce peaks. I almost always use Satin on the Master track anyway, so I will try to employ it for peak limiting if possible.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Windspace View Post
            I have sometimes tried to use a compressor to limit peaks. Never to my satisfaction really, they work...but when they work well on the peaks, they reduce the dynamic range. Unacceptably to me usually. I really try to capitalize on the existing dynamics-when one sound naturally goes low, I like to use that 'hole' to allow another sound to emerge. Once tracks get too compressed, the holes are gone :(.
            i have not found a limiter yet that isn't even worse at squashing the dynamic range. I have resorted to using volume automation to create volume notches where there are bad peaks, but that's time consuming. U-he Satin, and, I imagine, other tape saturation plug-ins can work to slightly reduce peaks. I almost always use Satin on the Master track anyway, so I will try to employ it for peak limiting if possible.
            Satin works fine, sometimes I find it reduces the stereo field a bit ... that can be good or bad depending on the track.
            ahornberg.bandcamp.com
            soundcloud.com/ahornberg

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            • #7
              I always run a limiter on the master channel, usually Limiter No. 6 by Vladg Sound >> https://vladgsound.wordpress.com/plugins/limiter6/
              It's got several limiters in-line, each can be individually switched on/off, including a compresser, and a couple of them can operate in multi-band mode. I find it to be very transparent and not really at all detrimental to the dynamic range when used only as a safety limiter, or even gentle soft limiter to light compression.

              Often, I will put Molot (by the same dev) on the master as well, either as the first master effect or after an initial EQ. It colors more, and certainly reduces the dynamic range, but I generally use it pretty light for master compression; only about 1.5 to 2.5 ratio, with a tame threshold, fairly fast attack, and gentle release.

              On many individual tracks and busses I will also sprinkle compressor/limiter/saturation here and there, as needed, to balance those bits within their own dynamic ranges. These I set a good deal more aggressive and coloring. I find that it really helps bring out details in them, particularly in conjunction with healthy EQ-ing.
              I almost always put NastyVCS on a track; a very nice channel strip. Yep, almost every track. The dev also has some other great dynamics and saturation tools (all free) -- but they're 32-bit, if that's a problem for you; it's not for me. Reaper's auto-bridging is virtually seamless.
              >> Variety of Sound >> https://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/vst-effects/

              Finally, ALL effects channels/busses get a basic safety limiter, which I generally set to -3 or -2 dbfs.

              all these VSTs I've mentioned are free, BTW.

              Originally posted by Windspace View Post
              i have not found a limiter yet that isn't even worse at squashing the dynamic range. I have resorted to using volume automation to create volume notches where there are bad peaks, but that's time consuming. U-he Satin, and, I imagine, other tape saturation plug-ins can work to slightly reduce peaks. I almost always use Satin on the Master track anyway, so I will try to employ it for peak limiting if possible.
              I highly recommend checking out Limiter No.6 if you haven't already. The variety of limiters, and how gentle you can set them, and how transparent they are, is very nice and useful.
              Last edited by artao; 05-14-2016, 12:23 PM.
              Voxonitus on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/voxonitus
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              • #8
                Limiter No. 6 looks like it could work for me. Thanks for pointing to it!! :tu:
                I have tried some of the TDR plug-ins, and when & if I try to use a compressor, it is usually TDR Kotelnikov. I took a look at the Variety Of Sound page, but I'm on a Mac...oh well.

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                • #9
                  I always use LoudMax as a simple brickwall limiter to catch peaks. It is free, available for Win and OSX in 32-bits and 64-bits versions. It is transparent and very low on CPU usage. Especially during sound design this is great to save both my ears and my speakers... During mixing I can get levels right so that eventually the limiter shouldn't need to kick in.

                  I wouldn't use compression on the master for ambient, where more dynamic range is something we want. But on individual instrument tracks or effects busses it can play a role.
                  https://ablaut.bandcamp.com/ | https://soundcloud.com/ablaut

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                  • #10
                    I never use compression, I much more like a headroom for all sounds to evolve ;)
                    Last edited by stargazer; 05-16-2016, 03:04 PM.

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                    • #11
                      All the time, either to side chain stuff, or to adjust/work with volume levels: compression does not eliminate headroom.

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                      • #12
                        Maybe there is a different approach in virtual and analogue soundworlds. I always try to use the uncomprised sound of the instrument, and while I form it, i make the sounds I want.
                        Also, I some kind of do not like limiters. They can have the effect that the sounds sounding glaring and uniform instead of lively and sensitive.

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                        • #13
                          I sometimes use compressors for sound design, compressing a sound so the usually inaudible parts are pulled up. Compressing a heavily reverbed sound is interesting too. Not very 'ambient' but limiters can be good fun on drum sounds, smoothing everything together.

                          And I occasionally use them for what they're intended for, evening out an uneven recording (usually a guitar part of mine...)

                          But all these examples are very much parts of track, I rarely compress a whole mix.
                          Latest release: never to be repeated

                          Hearthis | Soundcloud

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                          • #14
                            at times subtle compression on the master for cohesion's sake. I hardly ever reach for compression, but when I do I make sure it's by Klanghelm ;). Finding my way around ableton's version of The Glue is on my to-do list.
                            www.soundcloud.com/phoenstorm

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                            • #15
                              I have compression EQ, Gain and compression on each track as default. They are not enabled though. I rarely use compression on my ambient tracks and if I do its very subtle maybe to glue tracks better together. I like to keep the dynamics in the track, as I like the variation in intensity. Its not a most to use compression. Gain/Fader control and EQ is the way to go:-)
                              Regards, Dan Stanley of imogen projekt.

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