Audio Compressor | Types, Compressor Setup, Tips | Producing it’s fun!!!!


When it comes to compression, you have to make sure that you know what to do. It is not hard to work out the compression, it sounds worse then it is.

Mainly the compression process is used  to even out the Dynamic Range or the extension between the loudest or the softest part of an audio clip or a recording. To be clear let’s make an example, after a recording session, when listening to the audio that we have just recorded we will notice that some part of the recording will be louder and some will be lower. Well the compression will be used to even out the sound without having spot with high and low pitch.

Applying compression to a channel will help us to give the exact pitch, and manipulate the highest and the lowest parts of the chosen audio so that we can even out the sound .


When working with an audio compressor, there are  general settings that you need to know to be able to complete the compression process like a Pro. These settings are the same for any compressor audio types,either  hardware compressor or software (virtual) compressor.

Pro Tools compressor - Interface

Pro Tools compressor – Interface


We can say that this function is there to mark a maximum reach limit for the audio signal,  before the compressor starts working.


Ratio is there to indicate the quantity of compression applied to a given audio.

For Example, if the Ratio is 3:1, the input signal has to cross the Threshold by 3 db before the main audio output level increases by 1 db.


The Attack function can change how quickly the compressor starts working after the Threshold mark has been passed.


Release decides how long the compressor has to work as soon the audio signal goes below the Threshold mark.


The Knee is used to set how the compressor has to start working, basically if we set  Hard Knee the compressor will grab onto the audio signal as soon as it goes over the threshold mark, instead Soft Knee, will start working gently until its full strength.


This function allows you to increase the volume of the compressed signal. Sometime the compression can attenuate the signal quite a lot, so having this function is very handy !!!!


The last function, Output,  is there to have control of the main audio exit, after the compression and after the make up gain.




Audio engineering created Compressor, it basically is an amplifier with certain function . Each one is for a specific situation but all of them works with the same concept. Mainly you could come across;



Fet compression are used a lot in the music production industry as they give a sound that we all like !!!! If you want to make your track sound very punchy, this is the type of compressor you want to use. This compression is  used  for vocals, drums, bass, basically every sound that need that punch, that push up. Even if working on distortion this is a good audio compression type to use, it will give richness and warmth to the distortion. The Fet compression gives a really warm and rich sound which unfortunately can’t be replaced by a virtual version (Plug in) of it. The only cons about this compressor is that  doesn’t have any side-chain filter which makes it inappropriate for Mix Mus compression.

Softube - Fet compressor

Softube – Fet compressor





VCA stands for “Voltage Controlled Amplifier” and it works mainly with fast Attack and Release. Generally this type of compression is the most used one and many virtual plug in, base their structures on its principal. The VCA compression tends to work too quick, that’s why this Audio Compression type can work the best in some contest and it can be very inappropriate for others. Using the VCA compression type gives to the audio signal  a sense of aggressiveness and boost or punch.

Dbx 160 - VCA_Compressor

Dbx 160 – VCA_Compressor





We can pretty much say that the Opto compression is the opponent of the VCA. It uses photocells as detector and a light bulb to determinate the gain reduction. When the audio signal passes trough the light bulb, it will glow depending on the intensity of the signal. The Opto compression works much softer and it reads an average of the Audio signal. On the other side, VGA compressor’s design sees and works on the exact signal. To end, this Audio compression type,  we can say that, they are useful to tighten up a mix, as they are very transparent and hard to notice when working. The disadvantage is the boosting.  The compressor works very softly and if we want to boost up certain part it will be challenging. Is recommended to set an High Pass Filter in the side chain when we are compressing on a mix.

Teletronix lA2A- Opto Compressor

Teletronix lA2A- Opto Compressor




Many successful records have been using the Variable Mu Compression. They perform a very smooth compression and the ratio increases when the gain reduces. The louder an audio signal will be, the more it will be compressed. This Audio Compression type doesn’t respond as fast as the FET or VCA compression, it has a slow reaction giving the ability of gluing up a mix like a Pro. It is generally suitable to use at the end of the mix, so once your mix is ready, passing it trough the Variable Mu Compressor will blend all the sounds into an homogeneous and smoother outcome. It is very inappropriate to use if we want to boost or give that punch to the signal, this is definitely not the right Audio Compression type to do that.

Manley - Variable Mu

Manley – Variable Mu




Tips and tricks.


After this nice guide i am sure you’ll be asking yourself;

Are there any virtual version, that can emulate the same concept of compression, so that i can use them in my DAW??

Well i got good news for you, yes there are some very good alternative;

The Waves RVox reproducesthe FET COMPRESSION. Very punchy on vocals, drums ect.

Waves RVox - Interface

Waves RVox – Interface



The PSP Vintage Warmer emulates the OPTO COMPRESSION. Very useful for soft adjustment and gluing up a mix without noticing the compressor much.

PSP Vintage Warmer - Interface

– PSP Vintage Warmer – Interface



The VBC (Virtual Buss Compressors) can emulate a VCA COMPRESSION.Very quick in attack and release. Aggressive and punchy outcome.

VBC (Virtual Buss Compressor) - Interface

VBC (Virtual Buss Compressor) – Interface



These above, obviously, are not the only Virtual versions that can emulates a compressor, there are so many out there! I listed the one i personally use and that i advice to you. Instead if you are looking for a piece of Hardware i recommend you to check out the following:



When it comes to buy a new item, everything comes down to a budget, and i know, because i do the same. I think that this Audio Compressor type compared with other Audio Compressor Types offers TOP QUALITY RESULTS  for the price. It’s very affordable and perfect for an intermediate producer that is not focusing on the Best Production in the world. I looked at the review of this product and they are very good.


(click HERE for more info about the product)

This compressor offers many function;

  • Switchable IKA (Interactive Knee Adaptation) program-adaptive compression circuitry combines the advantages of hard-knee and soft-knee characteristics
  • Integrated De-esser with switchable male/female voice recognition removes excessive sibilance from your vocal tracks
  • IGC (Interactive Gain Control) peak limiting circuitry combines clipper and program limiter for reliable and inaudible protection against signal peaks
  • Switchable dynamic Enhancer for brilliant, lively audio even with heavy compression
  • IRC (Interactive Ratio Control) expander/gate circuitry for virtually inaudible noise suppression

I think this is the best compressor you can find when you are looking at staying within a budget and wanting the best quality that you could get.


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