Compressors And Limiters

Duration: 31 minutes

Featuring: Alan Parsons, with Bill Putnam Jr (Universal Audio), Steve Marcantonio, Niko Bolas, John Fields, Michael McDonald, and Allen Sides

Compression concerns dynamic range and an explanation of exactly what dynamic range is, is how this important section opens.

Universal Audio’s Bill Putnam Jr explains how and why compressors and limiters were first developed, following on from which Alan explains the difference between compression and limiting and when each process s typically used. One very valuable demonstration lets you hear a range of identical recordings–vocal, guitar, piano–with and without compression.

As the section continues, Alan defines the terms, explains the parameters, and even provides instrument-by-instrument examples (along with the ramifications!) of using compression or limiting.

Although compression is principally concerned with loudness, including the listeners’ perception of loudness, the process can also effect tone, in both desirable and undesirable ways; looking at both sibilance and de-essers.

The elephant in the room is of course The Loudness Wars and the effects of compression on the master buss, i.e. over the whole mix.

Alan talks about this to a number of artists, engineers, and producers. Most seem to agree that over compression is generally ‘a bad thing’ but the constant pressure by labels, managers, and pundits to have your mix sound as loud as the next person’s–or preferably louder–has been around since the 1970s.

This is a fascinating and multi-faceted subject and one explored from all perspectives in an action-packed half hour of compelling footage.

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