Compression for CG

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
PeteJ
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Compression for CG

Post by PeteJ » Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:32 am

I checked out the 'classical guitar' preset on one of my compressors the other day and was quite surprised by the settings. It led me to wonder. Do you use compression? If so do you have favourite 'go to' settings for attack/release/ratio?

Kurt Penner
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by Kurt Penner » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:35 pm

I find that the Neumann mic and my playing cause a fair bit of compression already. I thought my playing had sufficient dynamic variety but I have to try extra hard to reveal it when recording. If anything, a classical guitar recording should have little or no compression so as to make the most of the dynamic range. At least that's in my amateur opinion.

Kp

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Lawler
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by Lawler » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:43 pm

Pete, I'm curious what compressor you used.

I use split-band compression sometimes. It can tame overly strong low-mids while leaving the upper mids and highs uncompressed, which is how I like to do it. For the low mids compression settings (centered around 350 Hz) I usually use an attack of around 30 ms, release of 500 ms, and ratio between 2:1 and 4:1, depending on what it needs. I don't use broadband compression. To my ear it tends to squash the highs, even with a slow attack and low ratio, and make for an unnatural sound.

PeteJ
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by PeteJ » Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:55 am

That sounds like a plan. Lawler. I have an instinctive dislike for multiband compression since it becomes unnatural so quickly, but I get what you're saying. Broadband can also sound unnatural, but it seems to me that when it does this is often to do with equing rather than compression (so would be more inclined to eq out the low mids than mutiband them). I'd agree with Kurt that often no compression is the way to go but some styles need it and even some Bream recordings are noticeably (albeit tastefully) squashed.

I can't remember offhand the compressor I checked - something from Waves I think. I'll check when I'm next on the machine. It was set to minimum attack, longish release and a 4:1 ratio. I was surprised by the short attack time and also the ratio, which normally I'd keep down to 2:1. It's a nice set-up and certainly works for 'pop' classical, a solo in a pop track or something jazzy, but is too much for Bach. It was also set to analogue, which adds noise, but I like a bit of noise.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:42 pm

For the classical purist recording engineers compressors are a 'no go', and usually I don't think there are really doing anything good to a good recording. But if you have some acoustical problems in the recording room, a multi-band compressor of decent quality can help with taming some of the issues, if used wisely and minimalistically. You could A-B to compare the results using the bypass switch, and if you hear a big difference, it's quite likely too much.

Waves has a very nice compressor called Renaissance Compressor. Looks very simplistic but it's a greatly programmed and powerful piece of software.
If you have access to it, try the following setting: Ratio 1:1.25 to max. 1.3; attack 16 and release 120, then adjust the threshold so that the compression doesn't exceed 3dB down (you'll see it in the middle on the meter. Raise the Output about 2B ...

You could of course use similar settings on any compressor software or hardware.

@Kurt Penner: I don't quite get what you are saying about your Neumanns. In which way do you think the mics are acting as compressors? I wouldn't be surprised if you would be playing with volumes over 100dB, but what your describing sounds like an automatic limiter being switched on in you recording chain (whatever you use as recorder - check the automatic limiters or levelers).
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Kurt Penner
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by Kurt Penner » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:22 pm

Rojaros,
I dont believe there is any limiter or compression in my recording chain. If I'm being honest, I think the problem is actually that my playing has much less dynamic range than I think it does.

But the km184 into zoom h5 hears so much quiet detail that I find it a challenge to make a decrescendo or ppp the way that I hear it in my head. Perhaps this is what is meant by "playing for the mic". A stage actor's whisper is different than a voice actor in a studio.

In other words, I often perceive this but I think it's just my playing that is the problem.

KP

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Lawler
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by Lawler » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:03 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:55 am
...would be more inclined to eq out the low mids than mutiband them...
Me too if a low-mid imbalance was constant, or nearly. And I like EQ automation for those times when I want to reduce boominess in occasional spots without cutting the richness (that beautiful 350 Hz range) of tone overall. Re split-band compression, even just the crossover filters in a multiband compressor change the sound. And if misused the plugin can ruin the sound quickly. Can be a good tool though for some uses. Since the thread was about compression I mentioned the split-band compressor.

And certainly best to record in a room with no low-mid problems that needs no EQ or compression.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:51 am

Kurt Penner wrote:
Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:22 pm
Rojaros,
I dont believe there is any limiter or compression in my recording chain. If I'm being honest, I think the problem is actually that my playing has much less dynamic range than I think it does.

But the km184 into zoom h5 hears so much quiet detail that I find it a challenge to make a decrescendo or ppp the way that I hear it in my head. Perhaps this is what is meant by "playing for the mic". A stage actor's whisper is different than a voice actor in a studio.

In other words, I often perceive this but I think it's just my playing that is the problem.

KP
Kurt,
Of course, I know this phenomenon of inhibition while recording. But that sounds different from compression in the sense of a compressor kicking in at a certain threshold.
I have two suggestions:
1. Don't use headphones while recording, just setup your recording system, check the levels, give yourself some security margin in the levels in case you get loud and then just play - no headphones or monitors!
2. As storage space on SDHC or CF cards has become cheap, don't interrupt yourself for switching the recorder on and off - play continuously, make repetitions of the piece in one go and try to forget as good as you can the microphones. It's difficult in the beginning, but works well with time and practice.

best wishes
Robert
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
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PeteJ
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by PeteJ » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:17 pm

Thanks folks.

Rojarosguitar- Your suggested comp. settings seem appropriate and are much more in line with what I'd go for naturally.

Kurt - I think you're hearing a common effect, which is that your playing dynamics seem to be reduced by the recording. I'm not sure how much of this is to do with misjudged playing, psychology, the recording chain or the fact that the mics are not hearing what the player is hearing, but it's not unusual. It might be your playing but it is also just what happens. Or so it seems to me. I think our musical intentions don't always translate into tangible results and that sometimes we think we are, say, increasing the dynamics when we're just increasing the tension in our hands to little effect.

I'd agree that no compression is the purest approach and the most harmless to the guitar, but I like compression and for some styles of music it's necessary to add some loudness. A long way back I used to use a Drawmer on CG and found i possible to push it quite hard before ruining the sound, but for some reason with vsts I find it more difficult to set it up unobtrusively.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:48 pm

Drawmer made very fine compressors in the heyday of hardware compressors, very inconspicuous, I still have one ... I think Waves Renaissance and also the waves classic compressor come very close to this; from Softube there is also a new Drawmer compressor plugi that can come in handy with guitar, as it is extremely simple in use.
Personally I'm not so purist and don't mind a slight compression with CG, if it is inconspicuous. It compensate for the listener for the lack of visual clues. I suspect our brain also works as a compressor/limiter/leveler ... I also find your remarks about the psychology of self-preception as a player very interesting!
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

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sxedio
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by sxedio » Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:23 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:55 am
I'd agree with Kurt that often no compression is the way to go but some styles need it and even some Bream recordings are noticeably (albeit tastefully) squashed.
Isn't that just the tape, in which case you want to record on tape or use tape simulators in software.
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

PeteJ
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by PeteJ » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:11 pm

Some if it would be tape but I hear more than this. Maybe in the days of cassettes some additional compression was applied.

The point about compression making up for the absence of visual clues hadn't occurred to me before but seems plausible. Our ears compress sounds naturally and this is partly why mechanical compression works. The idea that visual clues allow us to be comfortable with wide dynamic ranges without losing the plot seems correct.

I've been trying out the H-comp from Waves but am not a fan yet. I have Renaissance but for some reason haven't tried it. I'll do so next time I need one.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:12 am

It's an old thread but it came up again in a different context so I contribute a little here too.

The point with compressors is that there is no good or bad per sé, it totally depends on material. There are some compressors I love to use on voice, others on cello, and others on guitar. The H-Compressor as well as V-Compressor by Waves are very good on some things, but not so much on CG. You need something that is quick an transparent and does not emulate the coloration of vintage compressors. I have many compressors in my DAW, but somehow I end up using either Waves Renaissance Compressor or Ozone Izotope 5 or 6 mastering compressor; both are very inconspicuous and can be used so subtly that you wouldn't believe there is a compressor in the chain; but when you AB the track, you hear that it helps the music. Recording is not live performance, and making a good recording is an art in itself. Well captured material is the first step of it, of course!

BTW Izotope has also a kind of multiband compressor that can be very helpful. But as every multiband compressor, it should be used very cautiously.

For EQ I can't think of anything better than Fabfilter Pro-Q 2. You see immediately what you do (and hear, too :lol: )

And talking about digital tools, here one another that might help you improve your record: Flux StereoTool. Its free and it's fabulous to correct spatiality and L-R-Balance problems.
Last edited by rojarosguitar on Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Compression for CG

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:12 am

Double post, sorry
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...
My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

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