In the previous posts we looked at what a music compressor is and what is basicly does. It you are a beginning hip hop music producer and don’t have any knowledge on how to use a compressor I would advise you go through the previous posts about compression first.
I explained that a compressor is an automated volume knob, that we use to top off volume peaks in the recorded track. This enables us to put a vocal or rap line louder in the mix and make it fit better in your hip hop music. For a graphical representation go to the blog post compressor of hip hop beats.
In this post we go more in detail on the behavior of this volume knob. We already know that when the volume exceeds a certain level (= the threshold level) , the compressor will bring that level down by a percentage. (= the compression ratio). It is like an invisible hip hop music studio assistent that turns the volume knob down. But before that invisible buddy can help you with your hip hop beats he has to know two things:
One: How fast must he turn down the volume knob ?
Two: When the incoming signal is no longer above the threshold level, how fast must he turn the volume up?
We tell this to the compressor by setting the Attack and Release.
Hip Hop Music: Attack Rate
If we want the volume to go down very fast we will choose a high Attack rate. From the moment the compressor receives a signal that is above the threshold it will react fast as hell and bring the level down.
Buy choosing a low Attack rate the movement of the volume know will be more gentle, so the volume drops down more gently.
It doesn’t matter if you choose a high or low Attack rate, the volume will be brought down by the same percentage (as determined by the compressior ratio). Only the speed at which this happens is different.
High attack rate = fast reaction = fast turn down of the volume knob
Slow attack rate = slow reaction = slow turn down of the volume knob
Hip Hop Music: Release Rate
When the incoming signal no longer exceeds the threshold volume the compressor must stop reducing the volume level. Just like with Attack, we set the speed at which the compressor must react with the release rate.
High release rate = fast reaction = fast turn up of the volume knob
Slow release rate = slow reaction = slow turn up of the volume knob
In a future post we’ll discuss some compressor setings that are a good starting points for hip hop music.
In the meanwhile: stay tuned!