Compressor hold setting: your compressor’s ‘hold’ function explained

Compressor hold setting: your compressor's 'hold' function explained

Understanding the compressor hold setting

Most compressors offer you six main controls. Those controls are the threshold, ratio, attack, release, knee and make up gain settings. But in addition to these controls, there are a few compressors that also offer you an additional control. That control is the hold setting. In this article, we’ll examine just what it is that the compressor hold setting does.

Compression basics

Firstly, let’s look at the normal operation of a compressor. A compressor reduces the dynamic range of a signal. Most often, it does this by reducing the level of the loud parts of the signal. When operating a compressor, the threshold determines the point at which compression occurs. As such, any parts of the signal that overshoot the threshold will be compressed. The amount of compression applied is defined by the ratio value. Additionally, the attack setting determines how quickly the compressor turns the signal down. Finally, the release setting determines the rate at which compression subsides.

Using the hold setting

If your compressor has a hold setting, then you are able to instruct the compressor to hold the gain reduction in place after the input signal has fallen back below the threshold and before the release phase begins. This differs from the usual way that a compressor operates. Under normal operation, the release phase will begin when the input signal falls back below the threshold. But when using the hold parameter, the gain reduction continues for a period of time even when the signal has fallen back below the threshold. The release phase does not begin until the hold period has passed. The period of time for which the compressor continues to attenuate the signal once the input signal falls back below the threshold is controlled by altering the value of the hold setting.

Do you use a hold setting on your compressor? If so, what for?


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.