Compression III: Compression for Effects

There are actually several “fun” ways to use compression that are not just for utilitarian ends like peak limiting.

One of these, as hinted in the first post, can be to discover more of the hidden content in a track. This means a dry sounding drum track can be compressed to reveal more of the room, or perhaps ghost hits that are played too softly to be heard on the unprocessed recording. Sometimes, you can even find unintended noise, that can prove very useful.
In the following video, I use a graphical Dynamics Processor with a very low threshold of -40db on a loud and sterile electronic drum track. By severely limiting the dynamic range, and then turning up the output gain, you can hear more of the interesting sounds lying under the surface:

The movement you see in the graphical dynamics processor shows the nature of slope for compressed tracks. The arrow moves along the path of the output signal. The red section you see filling in the graph is the actual compression that is occurring. In this case, everything above -40db is being held back, allowing us to add in make up gain so that the quieter pieces of the music can be amplified. Now that the hidden sounds have been revealed, we have a more interesting track to play with:

Notice how the distortion really grabs the “ghost” sounds that the compression has revealed. The straight *boom-chick* now has trails of *boom(badda-badda)boom-boom-chick*

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