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 Post subject: AW2400 Compression Help
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:42 pm 
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I own a 2400. Recently recorded my band and am in the process of mixing the drums. I am starting with the bass drum. Trying to do some light compression to balance out the levels before I send the bass drum out of one of the Aux sends and back into one of the input channels so that I can apply a gate to it to reduce bleed.

I am still pretty new to this and am trying to really learn how to properly use the compressor. I find the 2400 manual to be very vague and not very helpful. I have read books on how to use compressors and one thing I have learned is that a good way to set the threshold is too figure out the action range for the input signal going into the compressor. But the only meters that the compressors on the 2400 show are the gain reduction meter and the output meters. So how am I able to view the signal going into the compressor to figure out the action range?

Also, the manual says the threshold is triggered by whatever signal is set with the Key In Source. I do not see any type of Key In Source on the compressor settings page. The settings page for Gates on the 2400 has a Key In Source but not the compressors. Anybody know how I can set the Key In Source for the compressor and whether or not this will actually help me with figuring out the action range for the threshold?

Very frustrating.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Marker Magician
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Not an expert om the key in source for these machines, but do know that the concept is to allow control of the trigger for a compressor , using a signal from a different channel. So for example, you could have the bass compressor being triggered by the kick channel. The aw1600 allows you to set this on the comp edit page - the default is "self" on that machine. The 2400 uses a different path, but unless you set that up the default is self. that is the usual mode.

As for setting the threshold, just keep dialing it up or down whilst watching the gain reduction. Depending on how agressive you wish to be, it is common to not allow to much more than 3 - 6 db of reduction. With such you can dial up the output gain by a similar amount. Let your ears guide you. Play with ratio and knee settings too, as that affects the gain reduction characteristics and speed substantially.

You can also put the compressor on after the gate, on the input signal on the way back in from the aux send in your description of signal flow. Thsi perhaps would avoid the compressor being triggered by bleed noises the gate may aid in eliminating.

I have used the presets to guide my initial entry into tweeking for particular aplications of compressors. You are on the right track. Let your ears tell you when you have found the sonic character you seek. Dont be afraid to juggle the pre/post signal flow and experiment. that is how you will learn best, as none of us can advise specifically, as we don't have access to your material. Post a sample od the individual kick track and perhaps i could muddle about and give you some suggestive ideas of how to develop your sound. Don't forget to include your EQ in the chain. Some HP filtering and a scoop or add in the 100 - 110 rand will have large effects of the sound. Make sure you check you eq ideas against the bass guitar, before you go patting yourself on the back. They both work in the same frequency range and the EQ makes a difference. You will have to decide wheter you are gong to compress the EQ'd signal or EQ the compressed signal - signal flow and sequence is an aspect that can provide both subtle or drastic effect on the output of the track as it enteres the stereo bus.

Good luck, saty in touch with questions or proclomation of success.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:48 pm 
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Send me CDR's !!
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guaranteedkill wrote:
I send the bass drum out of one of the Aux sends and back into one of the input channels so that I can apply a gate to it to reduce bleed.

Bear in mind that audio quality will suffer as you're going from digital (track) to analogue (aux output), to digital (input) again. I agree gating is usefull on drums, but you would have been better off applying that to the inputs during recording (I know... too late now). In firmware V1.13 a gate is introduced as an effect allowing you to overdub the track without leaving the digital domain. If have not tried this out myself though.

guaranteedkill wrote:
I have read books on how to use compressors and one thing I have learned is that a good way to set the threshold is too figure out the action range for the input signal going into the compressor. But the only meters that the compressors on the 2400 show are the gain reduction meter and the output meters. So how am I able to view the signal going into the compressor to figure out the action range?

Not sure what you mean with "action range". Even though input level and threshold are related, the absolute values are not that relevant. Yes an input level meter would have been nice but not at the cost of GR or output level that are much more important. Just for a starting point, you could monitor the input signal of the track using the normal [METER] function (button below the LED master meter) but you don't really need to because you are interested in a certain amount of gain reduction so in practice you will be lowering the threshold value until you see the required gain reduction on the GR meter.

E.g. on vocals, I normally use 4 - 6 dB gain reduction. I personally don't like the compressor kicking in too soon so that's why I use relatively high ratios (1:4 - 1:6) combined with relatively high threshold values and soft knee (5). This allows me to boost the level under threshold with 4 - 6 dB making it stand out in the mix. If you like subtle compression, you set the ratio a little lower (1:2 - 1:3) but this implies you need to lower the threshold to achieve the same amount of gain reduction. It's a matter of taste.

For subtle kick drum compression, use relatively fast attack (5 - 30 ms) and relatively fast release (100 - 200 ms) and say 1:4 ratio. Then turn down the threshold until you see the GR level peaking (seldomly) to -6dB. Now turn up the make-up gain to 6 dB. Play with attack until it sounds nice (keep monitoring GR, the faster the attack, the more GR you will see probably). 4 - 6 dB gain will give you a new constant kick. If you want to use compression as an effect for a fat long pumping kick drum, you'll need 6 - 10 dB gain reduction or more. I use relatively hard knee on drums (1 - 3), listen what you like best.

You can use similar settings for snare drum but with an even faster attack (0 - 10 ms). Especially with snare the initial peak is high so if you're using very fast attack you obviously will be seeing much more gain reduction. If you want to preserve some of that initial attack, do not set attack to 0 but somewhere between 5 - 10 OR use a softer knee (3). Let your ears be the judge.

If you do it right, suble drum compression should not be noticed until you switch it off!

Under normal circumstances, I cannot think of a reason why I would want to trigger compression on kick drum by any other source than the kick drum itself. I think this phenomenom is called "sidechaining" and it is common when using "ducking" e.g. background music with voice over. The signal of a voice over mike is the trigger for the music to "duck" (attenuate).

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:50 pm 
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Great advice in the post above. i would only quibble with a couple of points.

The statement about judging your efforts by not noticing your compression - until you turn it off - is generally true IMHO - But - the difference should be very subtle. if you really notice a substantial difference with the compressed signal sounding substantially "better", chances are you may be responding to a volume boost, related to makeup gain. Louder is generally initially judged to be better in A/B comparisons.
but if the compression is aggressive then the louder sound might have been gained at the expense of the attack or "snap", which is huge factor in how the brain interprets and assigns "judgement" as to the sonic quality of the sound. As PeeVee said this control is ultimately related to the attack settings, but the makeup gain need be carefully considered in relation to the ratio you have chosen.

The low ratio settings suggested 1:2 and 1:3 will provide a more natural feel to the compressed signal than higher ratio settings ( i like 1:1.7 my self), but you should be very careful to not provide too much makeup gain.

Using the example of a threshold of - 10 dB and a ratio of 1:2, with a hard knee, the most makeup gain you should dial up is +5dB, and this only if the signal is a well recorded capture of a "controlled" performance, containing peaks that actually flirt with the 0dB mark on the meter. In this example, the +5 dB would give the lower sounds within the signal a boost, so they could be heard, rather than masked, within the mix. It is not usually an issue hearing the loudest parts of a signal. It is the lower volume, subtle nuances and decay characteristics of a performance to which compression helps bring definition, within the context of the mix. When you listen to your compressed signal in order to pass "judgement" upon your chosen settings, listen for the lower sounds. their more consistent appearance (overcoming masking) is being traded off against the sonic qualities of the loudest segments of the performance, generally the "attack". With percussion, this is a critical judgement. but this is also true for vocals too. If a vocal ( or a sax etc.) is to be in the background, but is wanted to be consistently heard, then don't be afraid to compress aggressively. But aggressive compression of the lead signals will reduce the "dynamic range" ( the difference between the loudest and quietest samples within -> the action range of which the initial poster spoke) too much, leading to a more "in your face" feel to the performance. in some genres this is the goal. But in the end that quality will make a listener eventually come to the conclusion -"i've had enough of this - I'd better turn this off now" rather than reaching for the rewind button and a "let's listen again" response.

As the knee is made softer (up to 5 on the AW machines) then the compressor kicks in earlier, so the gain reduction meter will show more movement. in the above example of a -10 threshold with a 2:1 ratio, the gain reduction meter would quite probably show more action, tempting us to turn up the makeup gain to compensate for all that activity, but the opposite is true. As the knee is softened then the appropriate amount of makeup gain should be lessened, to maintain the sonic characteristics of the louder portions of the file. this of course has the effect of leaving the quieter portions without sufficient boost to overcome the masking that makes them seem to "disappear" within the mix - so it is all a big trade-off.


If you are not worried about this type aspect, but rather want to avoid seeing those spikes of individual tracks hitting 0 db and "over", then you need to use a "limiter", sometimes this is called "track smashing", rather than a "compressor". . They are actually the same thing, with the limiter having immediate attack combined with a "brickwall" ratio of infinity:1, a high threshold and a hard knee and makeup gain dialed in to suit the goals of the mix, rather than being sensitive to the individual performance.

If an important track is not standing up as you would want, within a mix, it may be more advisable to turn mix elements down until the desired track is heard as you want it to be, in relation to the tracks with which it competes for space. This may require you to turn you reference monitors up higher than you would normally have them should you be listening to a finished (mastered) file. Once you have made a mix that is well balanced, but too quiet because you successfully controlled and balanced its elements, you will have much better luck achieving your final volume goals during the "mastering" of the resulting two-track (stereo) mixdown file you created.

The "action range" or dynamic range of any particular file can be observed in a display of the waveform, usually in a software editor as the AW display is not strong in this regard. The editor may be able to analyze the file and tell you a number for this range. But your ears do a better job of determining what is "ok" for the mix you are trying to create. The most important advice is - let your ears be the judge - but be very careful not to make your decisions based too heavily on volume-based impressions. a true comparison will be of files whose loudest portions seem subtly louder but substantially "better" when the A/B comparison is made.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:29 pm 
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Hi,
Learned a lot again from you guys. A lot of very interesting and competent input.
Thank you
Andreas

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Ive been struggling to get a good sound out of the compressor especialy for vocals its nothing like the sound I get from wave hammer or other VST plugins on the computer sadly, I wonder how good the waves card is ? or pehaps I should use an external compressor via ADAT or even use an external preamp.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:58 pm 
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I like the compressors (from the company Wavs) on the y96k card. I can't speak to the comparison to plug-ins on your computer though. No experience to speak of on that.

The on-board compressors on the AW itself are able to do a good job too. The trick is to track in such a way that compression needs ( to achieve makeup gain in order to level tracks within the mix) are minimized.

No substitute for good tracking. The other thought is to reduce gain at the head of louder tracks, rather than chasing and boosting gain of quieter tracks. You will have to turn your monitors up during the mixing. When doing this it is advisable to reduce gain at the head of the chain on louder tracks, as possible on the VIEW page for each track, rather than pulling faders down.

In reality i usually add a bit of gain to some tracks and also reduce gain on others. The goal is to find levels for each track where the faders controlling each track sit up near the 0 dB mark, allowing finer control of subtle volume manipulations during your mixing

The 2400 allows this to be done ie ads and subtraction. Not so on the 1600 which only allows both add and subtracts on the Stereo channel. On the tracks the 1600 only allows gain reductions.

No harm in a quiet mix though. Especially If you have a Wavs card. It is easy to wring more volume from a mix using the Wavs mastering "Volumizer" limiter.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:56 pm 
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Thanks for that! sounds good :)

The y96k card looks good but where would one find one ? it looks impossible ? do you know if the AW2400 can accept any other cards that do effects, compression etc

I get what you mean by minimize the compression gain makeup thanks for that tip!
"No substitute for good tracking. The other thought is to reduce gain at the head of louder tracks, rather than chasing and boosting gain of quieter tracks." yes something I should really get into doing, I will try that next and perhaps Iv'e had this silly idea in my head that if a track goes too quiet the signal to noise ratio or sound quality would decrease ?
Interestingly Im sure that I noticed that when mixing down my track to a stereo track then importing it into a new project, adding harmonies etc then exporting again.. I noticed a lessening of sound quality! I think..

I like your idea of 0db trick ill try that !

Cheers
Riki

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:18 pm 
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y96k card is not available new. You see them occassionally on ebay, over the years. I'll post a message if i ever see one. It is a great addition.

There was a y56k card. I am not sure it is usable in the 2400, but i don't know that for sure. Call Yamaha on that one, i'd guess. the y56k works in the AW4416. and actually the documentation sent with the 96k actually outlines the procedures for the 4416, indicating there would be further instruction forthcoming. but i think the market moved on too rapidly and the card production was abandoned. they were pricey when new, so I might expect a used one might try for a higher price too???

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:40 pm 
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For the past 6 months i have been using a hardware clone 1186 and an LA2A compresssor to track vocals and bass (sometimes I chain them). It really helps make things sit right in the mix and both work muxh better than the aw1600 compessor, perhaps because there are fewer knobs.

Unfortunately I have not been able to get them to work on mixes as the aw1600 does not have inserts.

Even more unfortunately, I have been unable to do much work for the past 2 months as I have been away from home. I am working in Tokyo and will not get my set up shipped there until next June.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:21 pm 
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Oscar wrote:
Unfortunately I have not been able to get them to work on mixes as the aw1600 does not have inserts.



The 2400 does have insert points on inputs 1 & 2. Not so on the 1600.

June is a long time away. why so long Oscar?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:00 am 
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According to the blessed manual you can make the 1600 behave as if it did have inserts, but I have not been able to make it work.

I am in a serviced apartment until my daughter finishes school next June and the family join me. Japan has some funny local customs, one of which is no musical instruments in serviced apartments ! Just one of the 600,000 weird rules/customs that I am getting used to (e.g. there is a protocol for convenience store purchases that is only slightly less complicated than a tea ceremony).

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:52 pm 
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Life is a highway!! Where does one go to play their musical instruments. Are there ever any Buskers in front of the convenience stores ???

As for the 1600 and inserts. I think you could send the signal of an input via, an aux out, to an outside box, then inject that box's signal back into another input. You would arm to a track and so record that signal. I would have to bench test, as i've not done exactly this. Perhaps someone will be able to shed further light??

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:19 pm 
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I am yet to see a busker. Not all apartments ban instruments, but is equivalent to having a pet ! Short term rentals ban instruments though.

I followed the manual regarding sending signal to an external box, but it does not work for the stereo tracks. So i could not find a way to apply external fx to the stereo tracks. I even tried to send the stereo tracks to another aw1600 via a box. No luck

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:22 pm 
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The outputs marked as Stereo Tracks, as i am sure you already know, is as it says. Or, as you know, it can be assigned to be an Aux 1 & 2 out.

If it is the stereo track that is to be effected by the external box, why can't that stereo signal (ie - not assigned to be Aux) be sent to the box and then patched back into an input? Your box would need both LR ins as well as LR outs.

You are looking to provide "mastering" compression or limiting to a final mix?

I am probably missing something here ????

Can you play air guitar in your apt.? What about guitar hero on your 60" tv? Certainly they cannot control your night-time dreams of being a Rock Star!!! How Orwellian!!

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