Threshold is measured in decibels (dB). However, now that you understand these basic parameters of compression effects, you’ll hopefully be able to discern what does what on most available guitar compression pedals. What Does A Compressor Pedal Do? Copyright © 2020 Compressor pedals do exactly what it sounds like, compress your signal. Adding a compressor, or some dirt pedal set clean (I use KOT yellow side often) makes a Deluxe Reverb on "2" sound great. With the loud parts of the audio signal made quieter, the compressor pedal then brings up the overall volume of the sound, resulting in a higher average volume. “If you’re trying to stop the low frequencies from overtaking the highs, or vice versa, a compressor will do that more efficiently and better than most EQ pedals.” As a bonus, he says, a compressor pedal can also make a solid-state amp respond and sound more like a tube amp. But I could easily do without it - especially if I can crank the amp up to provide some compression on its own Specifically, the compressor effect decreases the overall dynamic range of an audio signal. The key is to experiment with as many of them as you can to find the tone you are searching for. There's a technique known as parallel compression, where some compressed signal is mixed with the dry signal. The initial compression part of the effect affects just the loudest parts of an audio signal. Attack is measured in millisecond (ms). For example, if threshold is set at -5 dB, then any signal above -5 dB will engage the compression effect. However, at the most basic level, a compressor does exactly what its name implies: it compresses sound. Compression can be useful as a general ‘foundation’ for your sound. This results in a flatter, more even tone. Attack parameter times generally vary from 1-100 ms. For example, a short attack setting of 1-10 ms means that the gain reduction ratio of the compression effect will take place 1-10 ms after the audio signal has breached the threshold. Launch … This gives rise to a number of effects, such as: making your guitar sound louder; giving your tone a little more brilliance / sparkle; and increasing clarity and sustain. Ratio is the second parameter of most compression effects. The compressor doesn’t just clip the loud parts (that would be a limiter effect); instead it ‘shapes’ the loud parts, making them quieter while allowing some of the original nuances to remain. The ratio parameter in this situation plays off the threshold setting. This effect is used virtually everywhere in recording. When looking for a compressor pedal, try to find one that gives you the ability to blend your clean signal in with your compressed tone. In addition, you may get an attack knob which determines how fast the compressor kicks in, letting more of the transient through and influencing the note 'snap'. They do this by reducing loud sounds and amplifying quieter sounds, which makes a much more consistent sound from note to note, and also allows notes to sustain for much longer. The attack parameter controls how fast the compression engages once the threshold has been reached and how quickly the gain reduction ratio is met. At first anyway. One other time-based parameter that is worth understanding is the difference between soft knee and hard knee compression. Agreed. The release parameter controls the time in which the gain-reducing component of the compression effect is released from an audio signal. The Best Rush Albums Ranked: What Are The Top 5 Rush Albums? A compressor "compresses" the signal that your guitar produces by normalizing the dynamic range of the audio input signal based on a threshold value. Both do a decent job, but the jewel in the crown is the TonePrint option, where you can load the pedal with compression programmed by TC, one of its roster of guitarists, or create your own with the software editor. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Now that you have some understanding of the basic parameters of compression effects, you may be wondering when to use compression on guitar…. also participates in various other affiliate programs, and we may get a commission from purchases made via links from our site. To better understand what does a compressor pedal do, hook up one on your rig and position it after your filter effects and before your heavy effects. An updated take on the most popular boutique compressor pedal. The ratio parameter controls the amount of gain reduction in the compression effect. Why Learn More Than One Pattern To Play A Bass Scale? Short and fast attack times can help tighten up and balance out loud, unintended spikes in dynamics inherent in fingerpicking and funky guitar styles. Maybe you have visited your local guitar store and noticed that some of the compression pedals available don’t have controls / parameters such as threshold, attack, release, ratio, etc. A guitar compressor pedal smooths out the audio levels of your playing by suppressing the loud parts and boosting the quiet parts. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to It’s equally possible to go overboard with compression and make your sound flat or muddy. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. When you play something very quietly, a compressor can boost the output to make it more audible. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. Compression is one of those effects that you will feel more than you’ll hear. All of this means that a lower ratio setting results in less compression overall than a higher ratio setting. A compressor pedal evens out the levels of your playing by shaping the loudest parts of the audio signal. Generally, compressor pedals have a toggle switch between soft and hard knee, if the option is given at all. A higher threshold setting means that only the loudest parts of a sound will be compressed to the level of the threshold. In other words, the gain will be reduced by a factor of 4. The third parameter of most compression effects is attack. Compression serves many functions and comes in many different forms. If the ratio parameter is set to 4:1, that means for every 4 dB an audio signal is above the threshold setting, the gain will be reduced by 1 dB. Depending on your exact compressor, it may have attack and tone controls as well (or if it’s setup more similar to a studio compressor it may have Ratio, Threshold, Attack & Release functions). A higher ratio setting will substantially reduce the overall volume compared to a lower ratio setting. A lower threshold setting means that a larger piece of an audio signal will be compressed. Release is the fourth control found on most compression effects. This way you get the best of both worlds, the benefit of your compressed tone, while the clean channel blends in and retains … It's set to light compression, with a bit of direct signal mixed in. Keeley Compressor Plus. Sensitivity can mean threshold – perhaps pedal manufacturers think that guitarists aren’t interested in the ‘boring’ concept of threshold and instead are more likely to purchase a pedal if it will increase the perceived ‘sensitivity’ of their guitar? The main function of a compressor pedal is to intensify (or beef up) an instrument’s sound.