A beginner’s guide to understanding the audio compressor attack setting

A beginner’s guide to understanding the audio compressor attack setting

Understanding the compressor attack setting

The compressor attack setting lets you control how quickly the compressor turns an audio signal down when it crosses the threshold. The attack time is defined in milliseconds. The lower the number of milliseconds, the faster the attack time.

With fast settings, the compressor will turn the signal down quickly when it crosses the threshold. With slower settings, the compressor will turn the signal down more gradually. As such, it will take longer for the full ratio amount of compression to be reached with slower settings.

Using the compressor attack setting

How you set the attack time is often dependent on what it is you are compressing and how you want the compression to affect the signal. A fast attack time will see the compressor clamp down on the signal really quickly. This can be useful when you want to tame an audio signal’s transients. With a slower attack time however, some of the transient information will likely pass through uncompressed or only very lightly compressed before the full ratio amount of compression is reached. This is a better option if retaining some of an instrument’s natural attack is desirable. Of course, if the attack time is too slow, the compressor’s full ratio amount may not be reached until the loud part of the signal has already passed.


The compressor attack setting gives you lots of control over the way the compressor affects your audio signal. You are able to use the attack time to control how quickly you want the signal to be turned down once a signal crosses the threshold. So using the attack setting is a key step in really crafting the way your compression sounds.

How do you set this parameter for different instruments in your mixes? Leave your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.


Get the best results from EQ, compression, vocals & drums with the FREE 'Home Studio Bundle'

EQ Settings Cheat Sheet Compression Settings Cheat Sheet How to record studio quality vocals at home How to record drums with one mic

Get all 4 guides sent straight to your inbox when you subscribe to our mailing list here:

* indicates required

We will use the email address you provide to send you free downloadable guides, notifications of our latest blog posts, general updates and offers on our products and services. If you are happy to receive these types of emails, please confirm here:

We treat your information with respect. You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in the footer of any mailing list email you receive from us, or by contacting You can find more information on our privacy practices at By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *