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Compression Explained

Compression can be your best, or worst friend when mixing and tracking. Do you really know who your sonic friends are? DAW Master Sedric Pieretti shows you, using different DAW's and plug-ins from different manufacturers. Everything you need to know about compressor plug-ins and how to use them in your productions and songs is right here. Plus, the information you'll learn can be used on any hardware unit or software plug-in compressor made.

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Introduction 1m:56s

Learn what to expect from Compression Explained, and and get an overview of the topics we'll be discussing.


What is Compression? 8m:42s

Get a basic explanation of the principles and functions of a compressor, as well as learning some terminology.


A History of Compression 8m:31s

See a brief look at the history of compression, starting with classic hardware compressors and ending with today's plug-ins.



Common Controls 14m:06s

Get a look at various compressors and learn what controls are common to most compressors you'll run across in today's DAW's.


Threshold & Ratio 14m:06s

Learn how the threshold and the ratio are related, and how to use them to shape your compression.


Attack & Release 10m:56s

Discover how using the Attack, Release and related controls to further shape your compression.


The Knee 5m:53s

Learn how a hard / soft knee affects your compression, and see how to adapt these settings to specific tasks.


SideChains & Keying 5m:42s

Discover the external sidechain and key inputs on various compressors and how they work.



Basic Routing 8m:09s

Watch compression being used on a track-by-track basis and see where to put compressors in your signal chains.


Bus Compression 7m:07s

Learn to group your tracks together, and then compress them as a group.


Mix Compression 6m:46s

Explore placing compression on your master channel and compressing the whole mix as one signal.


Multi-Band Compression 9m:13s

See how to use multi-band compressors and how to create your own multi-band compression setups.


Alternate Routing Techniques 14m:04s

Explore Parallel Compression, Serial Compression, Character Compression and other techniques.


Compression vs. Limiting 9m:13s

Examine the differences between a compressor and a limiter, and learning when to use each one.


Compressor Algorithms 6m:36s

Discover the different algorithms, emulations, and modes of compression available in different compressors.

In The Mix


Drums 15m:13s

See a compressor's effect on drum tracks, drum busses and individual drum hits.


Vocals 10m:10s

Watch using compression to achieve specific effects and functions on vocal tracks, covering singing, spoken word and rapping.


Acoustic Instruments 10m:48s

Get a look at compression when used with mic'ed instruments such as acoustic guitar, violin and horns.


Electronic Instruments 8m:05s

See how to use compression to effect and control the dynamics of our synthesizers, DI bass and other electronic instruments.


Advanced Compression 9m:23s

Learn about stereo modes, mid-side processing and mastering compressors to further your understanding of compression.

Sedric Pieretti

1. When did you start dabbling in music?

I come from a family of casual musicians, mostly pianists. When I was very young, I learned to play piano, then forgot it all when I was teenager and then discovered guitar and bass...

2. What training have you had?

Formal training? Almost none. But I've made every mistake one could make in the world of recording and learned from every one of them. I've also had the privilege of interning with some very knowledgable studio techs and engineers and consider that a very valuable education.

3. When did you get into recording?

As a teen in the 90's, my band needed a way to get our music on CD, but our budget was very limited. We pooled our parent's money and bought a cheap Tascam 4-track tape recorder. Since I was the resident geek, it was my job to figure out how to record a 5-piece band with only 4 tracks and 2 SM57s. When I discovered overdubbing, my mind was officially blown. Then I discovered software and digital recording and became an instant lifelong addict.

4. People you have worked with/for?

The vast majority of my work as an engineer, studio tech or producer has been for projects I was personally involved in, or for close friends. However, I have had the opportunity to work with several notable Bay Area studios over the years. Including a bit of work at the Wash House, famous for their work with late rapper Mac Dre.

5. Why are you so good at training people?

I consider the pursuit of knowledge a lifelong journey, and I've always been willing to share what I know with others... Perhaps to a fault. I've been known to speak at length on subjects for which there is no justifiable reason to know so much... I just enjoy teaching, and enjoy digital recording. I think the only things you need to train are knowledge and passion, and I'd like to believe that I have those in spades!

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