Compression

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

A beginner’s guide to understanding the audio compressor ratio settingUnderstanding the audio compressor ratio setting

One of the most common processes that producers carry out on their mixes is compression. To get the very best results from a compressor, it’s important to understand a compressor’s various settings. In this article, we’ll look at the compressor ratio setting.

(If you’re not up to speed with what a compressor does at this point, you can find that out here.)

A compressor’s ratio setting allows you to determine how much your compressor turns down an audio signal by. It’s important to know that your compressor will only turn down parts of a signal which cross its threshold. So when an audio signal crosses the threshold, the compressor will turn the signal down by the ratio amount.

(If you’re not clued up on compressor thresholds yet, click here.)

Using the ratio setting

The ratio will look something like this: 3:1. A ratio of 3:1 means that any parts of an audio signal which cross the compressor’s threshold will be turned down to one third as loud as they would have been.

A ratio of 2:1 would mean that any parts of the signal which cross the threshold will be turned down so that they are only half as loud as they originally were.

4:1 means that any parts of the audio signal which cross the threshold will only be one fourth as loud as they originally were.

An 8:1 ratio means that any parts of the audio signal which cross the threshold will only be one eighth as loud as they originally were.

So a low ratio value, 2:1 for instance, will turn down the signal only a little. Whereas a high ratio value, something like 10:1 perhaps, will turn down the signal dramatically. What ever you set your ratio to, the compressor ratio setting allows you full control over how much your signal is turned down by when it crosses your compressor’s threshold. It’s as simple as that.

Does this make things clearer about what the ratio on a compressor is for? Can I explain anything else about the compressor ratio setting for you? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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