Compressor

There is a little piece of equipment that many people have heard of, but don’t really know what it does or how to use it. It’s called a compressor. A compressor can be a life saver if used correctly.

Many of you have, or are, dynamic speakers. The volume of your voice varies a lot. This is great for the service, but can be a challenge for the soundman. He has to “ride” the fader to keep people’s ears from bleeding during the loud parts and bring it back up for the softer times. This method is fine and works . . . sort of. Usually you catch the fader and bring it down a second after it gets loud. The compressor can take care of this for you.

The compressor will only allow a signal to get as loud as you want it. It will allow the signal to get to a specific volume that has been preset by you, and then it will start “squashing” or “compressing” anything that gets louder. You can adjust how much it compresses, when it kicks in, and a few other settings.

A good compressor will be quite transparent. You won’t really notice it’s there. You would notice when you bypassed it, but a listener shouldn’t notice that the signal is being compressed. It should sound very natural. It will help to take the edge off of a mic. It will lower the volume where it needs, but still keep the intensity of the voice present. It basically smoothes out many of the peaks in the signal.



There is a little piece of equipment that many people have heard of, but don’t really know what it does or how to use it. It’s called a compressor.





I can’t imagine mixing without a compressor anymore. In fact, I have the luxury of having a compressor available for every one of my 56 channels. I don’t use one on every channel, but they are there when I do need them. A compressor isn’t one of those absolutely essential pieces of gear, if your budget won’t allow for it. It is one of the pieces that should be next in line though.

With the increasing popularity of digital audio mixing consoles, we have more options in built-in compressors than ever before. Most digital consoles will have a built-in compressor option for each and every channel.

If you are interested in a compressor, we at RSI Audio recommend the Presonus ACP88. This is an 8-channel compressor. Presonus makes quality gear at decent prices. Like everything else we sell, we look for “bang-for-buck”. There are more expensive compressors available, but Presonus will give you a good value.