Understanding make up gain, what it is and how to use it on your compressor

Understanding make up gain, what it is and how to use it on your compressorUnderstanding Make-Up Gain

Regardless of what compressor you’re using, almost all of them have some form of make-up gain control. This will usually be called ‘gain’, ‘output’, ‘output gain’ or some variation of these. Whilst the term used for this function may vary, its purpose remains the same. That is to manage the level of the output signal of your compressor.

You see, the level of the signal coming out of your compressor often won’t sound as loud as it was when it went in. That’s because the compressor has turned parts of your signal down. So make-up gain is used to turn the output level of the compressed signal up to compensate.

Managing your compressor’s output level

The good thing about the make-up gain parameter is that it has no effect on your threshold, ratio, attack, release, or knee settings. It simply boosts the level of the entire compressed signal.

Using make-up gain allows you to match your compressor output level to its input level. This is handy if, like me, you set all of the levels in your mix before you apply compression to anything. If your compressor doesn’t make this type of control available to you, then it probably applies ‘automatic make-up gain’. This automatically makes the output level of your compressor match the input for you.

As you can see, make-up gain provides a simple way to increase your compressor’s output level.

Did you know you could manage the output level of your compressor? Or have you been altering the fader position to compensate for the level change until now? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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