A compressor has got three main parts: The first part will be the Threshold your second part will be your Ratio and thirdly you’re Envelope. Your threshold determines at what level the compressor will start compressing the audio and remember any audio signal below the threshold level will not be affected, it will pass through uncompressed and anything above the threshold will get compressed.
So how much will the audio get compressed? That will be your Ratio. This simply means, how much volume will be applied once the audio goes above the threshold. So 4:1 means the audio will be reduced 4 times its original signal. The higher the ratio settings the more compression will happen.
The Envelope settings will be the time it takes for the compressor to work. It has two parameters: The attack and the release. The attack will be the amount of time it takes for the compressor to kick in and the release is the time it takes for the compressor to go at rest, which means no compression at all.
A shorter attack means the compressor will kick in quickly and a short release time will disengage more quickly and this is called the pumping effect sometimes it sound good but it might as well sound bad at other times depending on the type of material you are working on. This is why you need to compress with a specific goal in mind.
Serial Compression is when you are using two compressors on a single channel/Track. One compressor with a fast attack and a high threshold to tame the peaks and another with a slow attack and low threshold to reduce the dynamic range, but you can get the same results by using one compressor, simply delete the second one and increase the Ratio on the first one.
Parallel Compression also known as New York compression is normally used to compress drums. It is mixing a compressed and an uncompressed signal to bring out the details while preserving the peaks. If your compressor does not have a Mix knob/Parameter you can achieve the same results by using the compressor in a send channel.
You can also check out my article about How To Use A Compressor During Mixing by visiting this page
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