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 parameters. In this article, we’ll look at the compressor ratio setting.

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

A compressor’s ratio setting allows you to determine how much your compressor turns an audio signal down. So when an audio signal overshoots the compressor’s threshold, the compressor will turn the overshoot down by the ratio amount.

Using the ratio setting

The ratio will look something like this: 1:1, or 3:1, or 6:1, etc.

A ratio of 2:1 means that any part of the signal which overshoots the compressor’s threshold will be turned down to half the level of the overshoot amount. So if the signal going into the compressor overshoots the threshold by 4dB, then the signal will come out of the compressor only 2db louder than the threshold.

A ratio of 4:1 means that any part of the signal which overshoots the threshold will be turned down to a fourth of the level of the overshoot. So if the incoming signal overshoots the threshold by 4dB, then the signal would be output from the compressor only 1dB louder than the threshold.

An 8:1 ratio means that any part of the signal which overshoots the threshold will be output from the compressor at one-eighth the level of the overshoot. So a 4dB overshoot would be output from the compressor just 0.5dB louder than the threshold.

As you can see, the higher the ratio, the greater the amount of gain reduction applied by the compressor.

What ratio settings do you most commonly use in your mixes? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Be sure to download your free copy of the compression settings cheat sheet here.

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