Why do we use Audio Compression?

Jan 8 / Max Porcelli

In the Beginning...

There was Jack...
Nope sorry, legacies of House Music 😁

Audio Compression was utilized at the outset to send radio signals over greater spans. Since Compressed Analog Audio could procure more power (in terms of WATT), it could broadcast signals over broader distances compared to an uncompressed one.

Compression is regarded as one of the most perplexing and intricate concepts in the arena of audio engineering. One requires significant effort to be educated comprehensively on the concept.

Furthermore, it may be pretty hard to detect the effect of a compressor on sound. For example, it is simpler to notice a chorus or a delay impact than a compressor effect.

Nevertheless, if utilized accurately, audio compressors can shape our recordings and impart a polished, professional, and even-keeled sound.

What does a Compressor do to the Signal?

Audio compression reduces ratio between strongest to the softest recording parts
Compressors are an essential tool for any audio engineer or music producer. Have you ever seen a studio without a compressor? They help to even out the dynamics of a signal, allowing us to make our recordings sound more consistent and pleasant to our ears.

Compressors can be used during the recording, mixing, and mastering processes. They belong to dynamic processor families like the limiter, the De Esser, the Brick Wall, Limiter, Maximizers, etc.

Essentially, audio compressors reduce the difference between an audio signal's loudest and quietest parts. In other words, compression reduces the ratio between the strongest to the softest part of a recording.

But, why do we use Compressors?

Our ears can better translate the average music volume (RMS) rather than peaks. So, technically, compression can reduce peaks and increase the average volume, giving consistency to a recording (and good food for your ears).

We can say that the sound becomes more intelligible, but with compression, we can also obtain a general tonal balance, focus, and clarity and bring life into a dead sound.

On the other hand, pay attention!
Compression can suck the life out of a recording, bringing an element back into the mix rather than highlighting it.

Fixing your compression goals and using the right compression type and settings is essential. Bear in mind that compressors can also be used creatively to achieve a wide range of tonal characteristics, from adding punch and warmth to a mix to creating unique sound effects. 

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