Riding faders into compression

For those who are doing this on channels, I assume you are inserting the compressor post fader in inserts 7-8.

My question is, how do you deal with the compressor’s gain control. After all, if you raise the level of the channel’s fader, you are squashing the signal more and lowering the gain. How do you keep the fader-to-compressor relationship stable, so that when you raise the level, you get a corresponding gain of the compressor? Is it possible?

Thanks for those with experience/knowledge.

Hi Swurveman - Which compressor are you using? Does it have a make up gain knob?

Hi Alexis,

I have two Distressors and an API 2500 for hardware inserts, plus Waves and UAD plugs.

And yes, they do have gain knobs. So, my original impression was that without adjusting the compressor’s gain knobs, riding volume faders into a compressor was a self defeating exercise. Unless I’m missing something?

The question is, if it’s true that you have to simultaneously adjust compressor gain knobs while changing fader gain, the only possible way to do this would be channel by channel. And without being able to automate outboard compression gain levels, a useless exercise.

But from reading it seems like people are routinely riding faders into compressors. So, maybe I’m not understanding something into how they do this so that (a) the compressor’s gain is automated and (b) they don’t spend an enormous amount of time riding faders into compressors.

Edit: I just found this http://www.gearslutz.com/board/showwiki.php?title=Tips-and-Techniques:Vocal-riding-tips-mix-from-Mike-Tarsia which deals with the gain issue.

When you put more signal into the compressor (using the channel fader) then you will get a louder signal out of the compressor, scaled down by the ratio. You are correct that more gain reduction will occur, but more sound will also come out the other side. There should be no need to ride the compressor’s output gain if you are using “sensible” compression ratios.

I realized after asking around that instead of riding the faders into the compressor, you can just adjust the waveform in Cubase so that the track volume is relatively even throughout before routing to the compressor. So a whisper would get as much compression as scream, etc.

I’ve been doing that for a while now, so that “the compressor doesn’t have to work so hard”. I see now that is just a less precise way of saying the same thing.

Anyway, unless you LIKE riding faders, you can do it off-line like the above!

BTW , Old Fecker is right as usual - the output from a comp will be at least infinitesimally louder (not softer) than the input, as the ratio is never infinite, much less a negative number. Whether we can hear it louder or not is a different question (limiters, etc.), but it shouldn’t be softer.

That’s only true if you consider make-up gain to be part of the compressor, be it manual or auto make-up gain. Tecnically, the compressor itself only reduces the signal above the threshold level, thereby reducing the total signal output… (and obviously the signal dynamic range)