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Compression Explained

14 Tutorials (2hr 0min 57sec)

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If you produce and mix music, you've got to understand how compression is the glue holding everything together. In this all new, in-depth video tutorial series, studio expert Dave Askew teaches you everything you need to know about compression from the beginning to end.

NOTE: If you purchased the original version of "Compression Explained", log in now to download the new version for free!

This series sets out to explain what compression is, how compressors work, and how to use compression in sound design, mixing, and mastering.

Dave's videos highlight using native and DSP-based software compressors, as well as hardware compressors, so you can use this information with any DAW or hardware compressor unit.

Dave starts out with a primer on the basic components of an audio signal, which leads into an explanation of the basics of dynamic range. After that, Dave offers a brief history of how compression developed into the staple of audio production it is today.

Next, Dave explores the kinds of compressors in use today, and the electrical components that control them, as well as the components the software versions emulate. That leads directly into videos on the specific controls common to most compressors: threshold, ratio, and makeup gain.

Dave now covers the more creative compressor controls by showing you how to shape your sound with various types of envelope controls. He reveals the different "knee" behaviors, where the threshold meets the compression ratio, and explains how you can control your compressor using a different signal via the sidechain input.

Dave continues with a video on alternate compressor types, such as multiband compressors, upward compressors, and limiters, as well as how you can stack compressors using parallel or serial compression.

Finally, Dave wraps up the series with videos showing you how to apply everything you've learned. He shares his approach to mixing with compression, and what goes into his decision making process. Then he shows you how to use compression when mastering audio for final release to the world.

Knowing how to use compression can be the difference between a muddy and dull sounding mix or a polished and exciting one. If you've ever wanted to master these vital dynamics techniques, watch "Compression Explained" today!

Dave Askew

1. When did you start dabbling in music?

I've been a musician since a very early age starting with playing the trumpet, guitar, bass, and piano. Not the drums though, my brother got those genes. I am an excellent finger drummer though to say the least!

2. What training have you had?

For formal training I took regular music lessons in grade school and high school which were fortified with training from private tutors. After school I joined the Army band and went through the Army School of Music as well. I'd like to say that most of what I've learned though came through experience and having hands-on opportunities.

3. When did you get into recording?

During my stay in the Army I was the live sound manager. I loved operating the mixing board but I loathed the 'live' environment. I truly enjoyed making things sound great but I didn't like the fact that there is so little room for error in the live setting. I had wished for more time to invest in being able to make something that sounds ok, turn into something phenomenal. I started by recording our Army band performances on a Yamaha AW1600 for fun, but really enjoyed that I could capture that moment then take my time to make it sound amazing without having to worry about the crowd booing. The rest is history!

4. People you have worked with/for?

A few musical highlights have been running live sound for the President of the US, and doing some on the side tech work for the band Dope. I also was able to work with Virus on one of his side projects. Over the years though my focus has been mainly in customer service and tech, so I've talked with thousands of industry professionals on a daily basis which have truly been too numerous to name individually.

5. Why are you so good at training people?

Growing up I always felt that I spent a lot of time training myself how to do things, but oddly enough I always thought I'd never make a great teacher even though I'm a geek through and through. In the early part of my career I turned down so many opportunities to teach music and engineering. I think part of that came with my own insecurity of not having the formal education that society tells us that we need to succeed. It took a lot of time, practice, and personal education to get me past that hump of feeling confident in trusting that what I taught myself was legit. I've finally reached a point where I feel like I have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge, but most of it has come through investing the time with having the hands on experience that not even formally educated people get sometimes. I truly believe the best way to learn something is to get your hands on it and immerse yourself in every little detail. Groove 3 is a great avenue to be able to share that knowledge.

Compression Explained is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 17.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good overview on compression While I have picked up things here and there form various sources online, this series really is the most comprehensive and straightforward overview on compression I've ever gone through.
Date published: 2016-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Powerful explaination of how to use compression and all the ways to use it. Fantastic!
Date published: 2016-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best explanations of compression I'm one of those people who has struggled with compression for years. Yes, I understand how the controls work... but how, why, and when do I actually use compression? This video series helped me out big time. Here was the key insight for me: it's all about keeping the quitest sounds above the noise floor, and the loudest sounds below digital clipping. So imagine you have a recording that has a whisper sound, and a train going by. If you increase the level so the whisper is above the noise floor, the train sound is going to be clipping. But if you lower the level so the train sound isn't clipping, then the whisper sound is going to be drowned in noise. Compression to the rescue! It was in the first few videos here that compression clicked for me – finally! Then the instructor shows examples of using compression to modify bass sounds, drums, and complete mixes... very very useful.
Date published: 2016-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thorough, but... This tutorial series is very thorough, but when you teach what attack means you're not entirely correct. Attack is not how long the compressor waits to start reducing gain. Attack is how long the compressor takes to reduce the gain. Gain reduction is happening from the moment the threshold is crossed, and the attack time is how long it takes for the reduction to complete. An attack time of 15 ms means that as soon as the sound crosses above the threshold, it will take 15 ms for the sound to be pushed down. It doesn't mean that it will wait 15 ms to begin reducing gain.
Date published: 2016-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! Really helped me to learn and fully understand compression
Date published: 2016-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great explanations and compression demos Dave gives really clear and understandable explanations with good examples throughout.
Date published: 2016-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from From A to Z This is an excellent tutorial in that it will teach the newcomer to compression and push the veteran engineer into new thinking. I loved it
Date published: 2016-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from De-mystifies Compression A great class to really clarify an often confusing subject. Well done!
Date published: 2016-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from That's how tutorials and courses should be Great explanation of the type of compression, useful additional material. great view examples of the diferent types of compressor and how they affect the signal, sonically and also visual. I would see some of the videos time to time when I need some ideas how to use some of my compressors and to give explanation to people that ask me how they work
Date published: 2016-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Video Thank you for this wonderful video. As a producer, I've always struggle of understanding how compression work. However, after watching this tutorial, it has given me an insight on how a compression works and what type of compression to use... this tutorial will definitely be my referencing video, to improve my compression skills.
Date published: 2016-07-18
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