Using compression in your mixes is essential – and you need to use it right.
OK, maybe not if you play classical harp or Polynesian nose-flute – but in most genres, using compression to control the dynamic range of instruments in the mix is fundamental.
The problem is, learning to use compression isn’t easy. And it’s not helped by the fact that most explanations start out saying something like “a compressor reduces the dynamic range of it’s input by attenuating signals that exceed a pre-defined threshold”.
Personally I don’t find this kind of description very intuitive, so this post will try and keep things straightforward. So before we go to much further:
I remember it very clearly, although I don’t know exactly when it was. Probably 1980, since the first TV series was broadcast in 1981 – so I would have been nearly ten years old. I think it was at my Dad’s suggestion, but perhaps not.
For whatever reason, on that particular evening, I curled up on the sofa and listened for the very first time to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy on Radio 4. (It was a radio series first, before the LPs, books, TV and eventually film.)
It was the episode where The Heart Of Gold lands on the legendary planet of Magrathea, by way of improbability drive, imminent missile attack, sperm whale and a bowl of petunias, and I was transfixed.
Partly because for a nine-year-old, obsessed by a heady mix of Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Star Trek and The Goon Show, Hitchhikers was pure gold – but mostly because it was in stereo.