Old 10-09-2019, 08:21 AM   #1
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Default I'm pretty much compression free now

When I see the dozens of compressors I have installed and the hundreds that are available on the internet I'm shaking my head and wondering why as I'm using them less and less.

As a huge fan of Bruce swedien and the Michael Jackson albums I have come around to his way of thinking that compression is for kids. I totally use so much more volume Automation and riding the faders but I am now a firm believer with Bruce that compression just kills transients and offers not enough in return.

I do sometimes use the free tri-leveler plugin if I want to limit the volume on a track and don't want to bother automating it, but for all of the compressors out there, I have less and less use for them.

Also for me the albums off the wall and Thriller are still the most dynamic and interesting albums to me sonically along with of course my mutt Lange favorites by Shania Twain and the Corrs (In blue).

Think different!

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-...sion-kids.html
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:34 AM   #2
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Well I'm personally loving the U-he Presswerk compressor I just bought in the last 30 days. It has controls where I can squash the dynamics, but then do things like tweak variable non-linear curve and soft knee controls to fine tune it. Plus it's variable parallel compression controls include a HP filter for the dry side so you can bring back the airy edge to vocal tracks when dialing uncompressed signal back in, except it will have less impact on volume since lower frequency content has been removed.

Presswerk is one of the best higher dollar purchases I've made in a good minute with plugins. I used it extensively on my most recent project and love the results I got using it.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:54 AM   #3
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Well I'm personally loving the U-he Presswerk compressor I just bought in the last 30 days. It has controls where I can squash the dynamics, but then do things like tweak variable non-linear curve and soft knee controls to fine tune it. Plus it's variable parallel compression controls include a HP filter for the dry side so you can bring back the airy edge to vocal tracks when dialing uncompressed signal back in, except it will have less impact on volume since lower frequency content has been removed.

Presswerk is one of the best higher dollar purchases I've made in a good minute with plugins. I used it extensively on my most recent project and love the results I got using it.
If you really need to control Dynamics why not just ride the faders and automate the volume and still keep all of your Dynamics and not change the sound quality at all
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:28 AM   #4
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why not just ride the faders and automate the volume and still keep all of your Dynamics and not change the sound quality at all
What do you think a compressor is doing that your volume automation isn't?

Aggressive automation will kill dynamics and transients just as easily as an aggressive compressor because a compressor is just an automatic fader-rider. Compressors don't kill transients unless you set them that way.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:33 AM   #5
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Well I'm an addict...

But yea I think if the compressor is killing transients and that's not desired it's either the wrong compressor for the job or wrongly used.

I'm most frequently using them on parallel busses though, so the original transients remain untouched.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:39 AM   #6
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If you really need to control Dynamics why not just ride the faders and automate the volume and still keep all of your Dynamics and not change the sound quality at all
You might as well stop using EQ too and just use geat mics and perfect placement to achieve the tone. You can absolutely do that but at what cost time wise?

Time is an extremely important aspect of making music for me. Knocking out lots music is the goal for me. Not the purity of how I created it. Plus, Presswerk has a whole section devoted to saturation from three different perspectives, which I use for altering the original sound, so it is even more impure, yet I still like it quite a bit aurally.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:46 AM   #7
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Well I'm an addict...

But yea I think if the compressor is killing transients and that's not desired it's either the wrong compressor for the job or wrongly used.

I'm most frequently using them on parallel busses though, so the original transients remain untouched.
I am totally loving the implementation of U-he's parallel compression on Presswerk. The dry signal can be processed through a HP filter which lets you add back uncompressed signal that won't significantly increase the weight of the volume, and adds sheen/air back. It also has a button to add expansion on the dry signal as well which can be very cool on parallel compression.

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Old 10-09-2019, 10:02 AM   #8
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Agree, Glenn. you can automate all this stuff, but "ain't nobody got time for that"!

I do think the Loudness War needs to die and I'm all for less compression, where possible.... unfortunately some producers take it way too far. In the right hands though, compression is a great/important tool! If I were able to hand all my music off to Swedien, however.... :P
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:13 AM   #9
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What do you think a compressor is doing that your volume automation isn't?

Aggressive automation will kill dynamics and transients just as easily as an aggressive compressor because a compressor is just an automatic fader-rider. Compressors don't kill transients unless you set them that way.
Shouldn't volume automation act exactly the same as a volume control? if I turn the volume control down on something that should not decrease transients it should only decrease the volume
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:14 AM   #10
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You might as well stop using EQ too and just use geat mics and perfect placement to achieve the tone. You can absolutely do that but at what cost time wise?

Time is an extremely important aspect of making music for me. Knocking out lots music is the goal for me. Not the purity of how I created it. Plus, Presswerk has a whole section devoted to saturation from three different perspectives, which I use for altering the original sound, so it is even more impure, yet I still like it quite a bit aurally.
I agree with you that time is important and I'm definitely learning from this group everyday. I definitely don't pretend to know it all but I am really getting closer to that Bruce swedien sound by using his techniques that I have been able to otherwise
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:15 AM   #11
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By the way my link in the Op is the original discussion of Bruce swedien talking about why he doesn't like compression in case anybody wants to read it
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:19 AM   #12
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Agree, Glenn. you can automate all this stuff, but "ain't nobody got time for that"!

I do think the Loudness War needs to die and I'm all for less compression, where possible.... unfortunately some producers take it way too far. In the right hands though, compression is a great/important tool! If I were able to hand all my music off to Swedien, however.... :P
My use of a compressor is not to maximize volume, but to tame peaks or bursts of volume to make a part sit better in the mix.

I cut way more often than boost with a compressor. Bring a vocal track up where it sits in the mix 90% of the time but gets a little too much in your face a couple of times during playback, and then set a compressor to simply shave off those few peaks, only reducing the upper limit, but not boosting anything else from it's original level.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:22 AM   #13
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By the way my link in the Op is the original discussion of Bruce swedien talking about why he doesn't like compression in case anybody wants to read it
Just going through that now. Post #3 had me cringe in fear, as, while I don't know the credentials of "lawrence_o", disagreeing with the man that mixed the #1 selling album of all time is a pretty ballsy thing to do. lol I mean, I'm sure that album would have done really well even if it was in the hands of a more amateur mixer (just based on the fact that MJ was an incredible artist), but still...

Credit to Swedien for not just outright coming out and smiting down any deniers instantly, however. lol

Quoting Bruce here..
Quote:
Mike.....

One more thing.. I think we come from two different camps. Neither is totally right.... Neither is totally wrong.... BUT, THEY ARE DIFFERENT!!!

Isn't that great???
This man is way too humble and open minded for a guy who was part of the best selling album of all time! That's pretty cool. But really, that tells the story there, to me. Compression can be good. Compression can be bad. Depends on how it is used.

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Old 10-09-2019, 10:22 AM   #14
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Shouldn't volume automation act exactly the same as a volume control? if I turn the volume control down on something that should not decrease transients it should only decrease the volume
Lowering the volume of a part whether done by a compressor or volume fader will make the part have more apparent dullness because it competes more and more with other things in the mix that occupy the same frequency spectrum.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:24 AM   #15
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By the way my link in the Op is the original discussion of Bruce swedien talking about why he doesn't like compression in case anybody wants to read it
I read it, but his over use of blinky flashy animated emoticons detracts so much from what he might have been saying, it blew me out of that forum.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:24 AM   #16
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Yeah, how tight and tricky are those automation envelopes you're drawing around transients?!

I'm a parallel processing addict too.

Just being able to grab bits of audio on the screen at will and adjust the level 'film clip' style to frame everything in initially is pretty quick and eliminates a good amount of need for compression as a safety valve.

If you set your monitor system for the -16 to -13 LUFS range everything makes more sense. The volume war masters you run across just sound stupid and trashy and make you jump for the volume. Make those the outliers to you, not the other way around, and everything gets easier.

The streaming services are hitting around -12 LUFS nowadays. Their source material is still often the volume war and treble blasted CD edition - which is a problem. But with the -12 LUFS normalization going on, those examples are really sounding like ass next to proper masters. Even after the lossy streaming treatment.

I digress, but the point was supposed to be that if you aren't trying to mix in just the very top 3db of your dynamic range with your monitor volume way down (from listening to those volume war CDs), you won't be reaching for a compressor as much.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:35 AM   #17
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I read it, but his over use of blinky flashy animated emoticons detracts so much from what he might have been saying, it blew me out of that forum.
Maybe you can put a compressor on the Forum and Tamp down the emoticons so that the actual signal gets through above the noise. Hahaha
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:39 AM   #18
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Yeah, how tight and tricky are those automation envelopes you're drawing around transients?!

I'm a parallel processing addict too.

Just being able to grab bits of audio on the screen at will and adjust the level 'film clip' style to frame everything in initially is pretty quick and eliminates a good amount of need for compression as a safety valve.

If you set your monitor system for the -16 to -13 LUFS range everything makes more sense. The volume war masters you run across just sound stupid and trashy and make you jump for the volume. Make those the outliers to you, not the other way around, and everything gets easier.

The streaming services are hitting around -12 LUFS nowadays. Their source material is still often the volume war and treble blasted CD edition - which is a problem. But with the -12 LUFS normalization going on, those examples are really sounding like ass next to proper masters. Even after the lossy streaming treatment.

I digress, but the point was supposed to be that if you aren't trying to mix in just the very top 3db of your dynamic range with your monitor volume way down (from listening to those volume war CDs), you won't be reaching for a compressor as much.
I agree with most of this however regardless of if you are mixing at the top of your dynamic range there is still a common problem where instruments are not played in the even manner weather it is bass guitar, guitar, or vocal and so compressors are very often used to try to even out those volume levels. So regardless of volume Wars even with my stuff that is more dynamic I still have the challenge of getting things into the pocket level wise. For me Tri leveler has been great because it seems to effectively limit at a certain volume level and let everything below that level ride and using volume automation as I've mentioned before seems to work best so far.

Also regarding the first transients point, if I am riding the faders for volume automation to even out levels that are too loud for example and I bring that volume down to be in the pocket with everything else it should just be reducing the volume and not the transients. If the volume is now brought down to the level where all the other volumes are for that instrument it should have the same transients as those other segments

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Old 10-09-2019, 11:03 AM   #19
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When I use compression, I'm generally looking at -1 to -3 gain reduction is all... not squashing the shit out of things. I think it still has it's uses.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:17 AM   #20
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Too much compression leads to depression.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:39 AM   #21
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you can increase the response time (attack/release) of compressors so they will act like automating a volume slider, use a clean compressor like reacomp, test it out yourself... no transients need to be killed by compressors
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:46 AM   #22
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you can increase the response time (attack/release) of compressors so they will act like automating a volume slider, use a clean compressor like reacomp, test it out yourself... no transients need to be killed by compressors
I almost always us slow attack time on compression, specifically so the initial attack happens, but then reduces the level a slight amount so other parts don't have as much competition. I used real hardware DBX160s in my analog studio and those are a slower reacting compressor with something like 8-10ms attack. Plenty of time for the crack of a snare drum to get through before any dynamic reduction starts happening for instance.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:00 PM   #23
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*cough*

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Swedien continues, "I have Teletronix compressors and so on and don't really need the plugins, although the ones that Bill Putnam Jr. was involved with sound superb. I have 1176s, which I will use, and they and the Teletronix can sound pretty decent when not overused.
https://reverb.com/uk/news/interview...jacksons-voice

He doesn't compress his 2-bus and he doesn't compress his drums and percussion. He does use compressors lightly on other stuff though.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:01 PM   #24
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I almost always us slow attack time on compression, specifically so the initial attack happens, but then reduces the level a slight amount so other parts don't have as much competition. I used real hardware DBX160s in my analog studio and those are a slower reacting compressor with something like 8-10ms attack. Plenty of time for the crack of a snare drum to get through before any dynamic reduction starts happening for instance.
Yeah, I use compressors to increase dynamic range of transients more than I do to reduce them.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:16 PM   #25
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Compression is awesome when done well.

And ReaComp is an awesome compressor.

I'm 100% serious about both statements.

...I'll get my hat...

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Old 10-09-2019, 12:17 PM   #26
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You might as well stop using EQ too and just use geat mics and perfect placement to achieve the tone. You can absolutely do that but at what cost time wise?

Time is an extremely important aspect of making music for me. Knocking out lots music is the goal for me. Not the purity of how I created it.
You could save TONS of time by using high quality loops
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:26 PM   #27
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Yeah, I use compressors to increase dynamic range of transients more than I do to reduce them.
I just finished up a project where I used a 12-String electric and for that track I compressed the snot out of it, but still used a slow attack to let the jangle through when picking, and with a relatively slow rising release time it also sounded great on the strums. That track would have sounded lifeless without the dynamic manipulation of the compression.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:33 PM   #28
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You could save TONS of time by using high quality loops
Are they compressed?
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:40 PM   #29
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I'm pretty much compression free now
So, what changed?


Did your tastes change or did you just decide to give-up fighting the loudness wars and go with whatever sounds best?
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #30
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compression is for kids
What a strange thing to say...
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:23 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coachz View Post
compression is for kids
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stews View Post
What a strange thing to say...
And real guitars are for old people!

https://southpark.cc.com/clips/pa80cd/guitar-hero

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Old 10-09-2019, 02:34 PM   #32
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Are they compressed?
I was certain that would bring a loopty-lou link
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:37 PM   #33
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I was certain that would bring a loopty-lou link
Well crap, I don't have that, er... cough... cough... song up on SoundClick any more, but it would have been an appropriate response to post a link for it if it was.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:08 PM   #34
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So, what changed?


Did your tastes change or did you just decide to give-up fighting the loudness wars and go with whatever sounds best?
I never compressed for loudness, it was always to help level out tracks and I just found that volume automation was an easier way for me to do it. Also using the tri-leveler plugin when just wanting to cap the volume on a track.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:09 PM   #35
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What a strange thing to say...
It's a quote from one of the worlds most successful mixers. Read the article in the op.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:18 PM   #36
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If you can't hear them, could you just let transients clip?
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:31 PM   #37
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So just to be clear, are we really supposed to believe that Thriller features no compression anywhere in the entire recording/mixing process?

That's a hard pill to swallow, but certainly an eye-opener if true.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:52 PM   #38
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Bruce Swedien is a fantastic mixer, and has a fantastic client roster including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and of course, Michael Jackson. Also of note, David Hasselhoff, as well.... ;-)

And yes, he hates compression. When you command the kind of $$ he did, you can certainly take the time to automate everything, and probably hire an assistant to get the rough done, allowing him to breeze in and put the final touches on the automation moves.

On the other side of the coin, we have somebody that LOVES compression. Chris Lord-Alge. HIS client roster is a virtual who's-who in the rock, pop and modern country genres, and he's well known for compressing everything in sight, and quite heavily at that, yet his mixes still move, breathe and pop.

Philosophically, compression is simply a tool, and in the end "if it sounds good, then it is good," no matter how you got there.

Practically, compression CAN be used for overall leveling (after all a leveling amp, like a Summit TLA-100, is really a compressor), it can ALSO be used to manipulate the envelope of a given instrument. Want more attack on a kick, but don't want to just peg the HF EQ? A comp with a medium-slow attack will do the trick. It won't (necessarily) increase the level of the kick, but it will allow the initial transient to poke out, and smack down the sustained body of the kick sound. Also, please note that Bruce worked primarily in the jazz genre, with Thriller being one of the few "rock records" in his discography. CLA, on the other hand, works in genres that lend themselves to the use of compression as an effect. He's not trying to maintain the purity of sound of an upright bass, he's got a 22-year old rock star in the booth banging away at a P-bass using a quarter for a pick...

As a purist, it's cool to say that "I don't use compression, I do automation instead!" That's all to the good, and I personally would salute anybody with that amount of patience (or an assistant engineer) who can sit down and automate the envelopes on a kick track of a 4-minute pop song. Personally, I'll just grab a comp and do essentially the same thing, only 200 times faster. From a pedagogical standpoint, I would advocate working on both, and see the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, to let you make an informed decision.

Then, we can get into the esoteric discussion of compressors as effects, rather than "engineering assistants." There is a "mojo" that comes from an LA-2A, and it's impossible to replicate any other way. Refusing to use it because it's a compressor and "I don't use compressors" simply takes a tool out of your box, and that's never a good thing. It may not be something you reach for often, or by default, but refusing to use it on principle is foolish.

Now, if you compress for effect, either for coloration or envelope control/modification, and then get down to phrase- and syllable-level automation as well, you might just have the best of both worlds.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:05 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by SoundGuyDave View Post
Refusing to use it because it's a compressor and "I don't use compressors" simply takes a tool out of your box, and that's never a good thing. It may not be something you reach for often, or by default, but refusing to use it on principle is foolish.
Hear hear. Let's not forget that half our job as sound engineers is to convince everyone in the room that we know what we're doing, even if we don't. After all, each move we make is pretty minuscule on its own. So to adopt any axiom of 'always do this or that' just seems...well yea, "foolish;" don't care who posits it.
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Last edited by foxAsteria; 10-09-2019 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:50 PM   #40
Tomm
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compressor is for the newer generation, kids like chris lord-alge, nice observation bruce
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