Compression

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 to the ratio amount when it overshoots the threshold. Finally, the release setting determines the rate at which compression subsides when the input signal falls back below the threshold.

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?

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