Hello, I am Brandon Fallout from Seattle, WA in the USA. This lesson is for week 4 of Introduction To Music Production at Coursera.org. I will demonstrate the use of a compressor using a piece of my own music in the Live 9 DAW environment. If you do not have Ableton Live 9 you can download the demo here. If you missed last weeks post on recording how to make submixes in Ableton Live 9, you can find it here.
Adding a compressor to a track
In the video below, I’ll show you how to simply add in a generic compressor to your Ableton Live 9 track. It’s really pretty easy but I’ll show it just in case you’re not familiar with Live 9’s layout.
Since my working project for this class doesn’t actually use any live instrument recordings but rather just MIDI data, I have made a copy of my MIDI track and randomized the velocity data for each midi note. This is to emulate a live session where the velocity may be different per note on a real synthesizer. I have already recorded that data to an audio track that we will be putting the compressor on. Here is the video showing how to add a compressor to an audio track. I’ll also play the track so you can hear what it sounds like before I add the compressor.
Tweaking settings in the compressor to get the desired effect
As you can see and hear from the above video, some of the notes are a lot louder than the rest. I will set the threshold around the lower parts of the music to try and level out the sound of the track. The key is to use your ear and adjust to what you feel sounds best. I want the compressor to catch it when it goes over the threshold as soon as possible so I will be leaving my Attack at .01 and I will also be setting my Release to Auto which is based off of the incoming audio signal. I will set the ratio to 4:1 as it’s pretty high variance in the sound level. In addition, I will set the knee to help smooth out the transition and adjust the gain to an appropriate level. Last but not least, I will set the Dry/Wet to 100% (Not shown in the below video.) as I don’t want any of the original uncompressed signal coming through. Notice where it says GR in the video? That is visual feedback showing the compressor in action.
While this helped smooth out the level of the sound, it would have been a lot better if I recorded it right in the first place. I know, I know, I messed up the original track intentionally but you get my point. Without further ado, here is the video.
Hearing the difference in the mix
For my last trick, I will show you a video with it all mixed together while I add in more tracks and enable/disable the compressor.
I hope you have enjoyed this little adventure and hopefully have learned something. Thanks for reading and enjoy the video!