If you are looking for a simple concept that is guaranteed to improve your mixes and take your productions to the next level, look no further! In this tutorial we will discover techniques used by the world’s top mixing engineers, which are all based around a single concept so simple to understand you will be able to use it to improve your mixes immediately.
In the previous tutorial ‘Compression and EQ Techniques for Mixing Vocals’ I discussed some of the standard features of the compressor, a device used to reduce the difference between the louder and quieter parts of a signal (dynamic range), now were going to dig a little deeper and learn about a circuit found in compressors called the ‘side-chain’. However in order to unlock these techniques we’re going to have to understand the signal flow first. In the simplified diagram below we can see the basic signal flow through a compressor.
A compressor is simply an amplifier that reduces the volume of anything that passes above a user defined level (known as the ‘threshold’). It is controlled by a signal passing through a part of the compressor called a ‘level sensing circuit’ (LSC), which tells the compressor how it should act. You could think of the LSC as the compressors brain!
It is important to realize that the ‘level sensing circuit’ is placed on a parallel path (known as the ‘side-chain’) to the signal that is being compressed and the signal passing through the LSC never reaches the output of the compressor, it is simply just used to control the compressor’s amplifier.