The first thing you need is a proper understanding of compression before you go out and buy one. The confusion happens in the compression itself, which comes from its opposite process: expansion. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If your goal is to reduce the dynamic range of your sound, perhaps to make it "sound" more even, wouldn't that make your loud moments louder still? And then, if you do have a quieter section, it would be a few steps further down the road from where it should be. In some cases, it's an okay aim but not very practical for most applications such as vocal recording.

 

Too much dynamic range (no compression):

  • Vocals will sound very thin.
  • They will get buried in the mix by louder instrumentation and obnoxiously stick out during quieter instrumentation.
  • Vocals won't sit well in the mix. They will sound amateurish, and your mix will have poor balance.
  • Lack of compression will also result in a quieter overall sound, as an uncompressed signal will clip a lot sooner when being boosted than a compressed one due to the high dynamic range.

 

The sweet spot (the right amount of compression):

  • Vocals will stand out and sit in the mix very nicely.
  • They will not be buried by or obnoxiously soar over other sounds.
  • You will hear the emotion in the performance, and the vocals will sound very natural.
  • You can attain a well-balanced and professional-sounding recording by applying some audio compression to your vocal or any instrument.
  • Your mix will achieve commercial loudness while holding onto the dynamic depth that gives life to your sound.

 

The compressor enables you to not only reduce your sound's dynamic range but to dial in the precise levels that you would like the sounds in your track compressed at. This is often a complex process for amateur producers, and many never master it because it requires both an understanding of how and when compression must be used, as well as a trained ear capable of determining whether or not what you've chosen sounds good. Do you need to use compression? Yes, absolutely. Compression is critical to mixes as it helps ensure consistency in levels and establish balance.

 

Why You Shouldn't Buy an Outboard Compressor:

  • The dirty up the signal chain- is especially true if you are recording with cheaper compressors that don't pass a well-rounded signal. The more hardware you introduce into your recording chain, the more likely you will experience an increased presence of hiss and noise. With software compressor plugins, you can record and compress without the added presence of noise or distraction by using the plugin correctly.
  • Compression during recording cannot be later adjusted- If you record with outboard compression, you're setting your compression in stone. It cannot be undone if you later realize that you recorded with too much compression.
  • Your money can be better used- Compressors are pricey. Too often, beginners will pour their money into a compressor before even having an adequate audio interface, microphone, or even essential room treatment. You'll get a lot further with a high-quality interface and no compressor than a decent compressor with a low-quality interface. The same thing applies to a microphone. Opt to improve your audio interface, microphones, and room before buying a compressor.

 

Do yourself a favor and invest as much money in your budget towards room treatment, your audio interface (particularly quality analog to digital conversion), your microphone, and your studio monitors. Don't buy an outboard compressor. Instead, save the outboard compressors for some time in the future after you have already taken care of these much better investments for your studio.


We hope this article has answered the question "Do you need a compressor for your home studio?" and helped you understand why you shouldn't buy an outboard compressor for your beginner studio. Want such blogs on best compressor vst, best trap vst, or any related topic, visit our website.

 

 

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