Applying Different Vintage Compressor Settings – Part 2

We have seen what the waveforms of some of the professional works look like.  And using materials from my band’s demo song as illustration (see part 1), I am going to apply 5 different vintage compressor settings and discuss the outcome.  What I aim to do is to jump start the learning process and hopefully, you can apply a similar template to your work of art.

1. Vintage Mix (GR 2-10 dB) 

Threshold = -12.5 dB
Ratio = 7.5:1
Knee = 4 dB
Attack = 1 ms
Release = 200 ms

Gain = 0 dB

This compression setting has a much faster attack and a relatively short release time to maximize the overall compression.  It does sound very much like the original recording with a relatively higher volume (see below for the beginning of the song and compare this to the one prior to processing as seen in part 1).  Majority of the content is still within the -6 dB region even at the chorus.

2. Vintage dbx 165

Threshold = -24 dB
Ratio = 6.6:1
Knee = 7 dB
Attack = 4.8 ms
Release = 438 ms

Gain = 4 dB

With a much lower threshold, much of the content experiences compression.  Gain is raised to 4 dB and hence posts a much higher contrast between the uncompressed and compressed content.  To compensate, the “Vintage dbx 165” setting has a slightly slower attack and release time so that some of the dynamic details still retain.  I can clearly hear the difference as the details are being brought out.  Below is the waveform for the chorus.  The result is clear if you compare to the original.

3. Vintage Neve 33609

Threshold = -20 dB
Ratio = 4:1
Knee = 16 dB
Attack = 40 ms
Release = 200 ms

Gain = 7 dB

Compares “Vintage Neve 33609” to “Vintage dbx 165”, the knee is softer and also, the compression ratio is lesser.  With a slower attack time (i.e. variations retained) and a faster release time (i.e. more overall compression), the resulting sound does appear to be more lively and yet overall volume is acceptable.

4. Vintage Teletronix LA2A

Threshold = -20 dB
Ratio = 8:1
Knee = 7 dB
Attack = 15 ms
Release = 150 ms

Gain = 0 dB

“Vintage Teletronix LA2A” does sound like having a similar result as the first one, “Vintage Mix GR (2-10 dB)”.  A much lower threshold coupled with a faster attack and release time does give me the impression that the result sounds a bit dull.

5. Vintage UREI 1176

Threshold = -28 dB
Ratio = 14:1
Knee = 4 dB
Attack = 1.5 ms
Release = 150 ms

Gain = 9 dB

This “Vintage UREI 1176” setting, I must admit, is the meanest of all.  Although the threshold close to “Vintage dbx 165”, its higher ratio and gain coupled with a much faster attack and release time is probably the meatiest compression one can hope for.  It may have a different application but to use it for my demo recording, the result is horrible.  Way too much distortion.


Having examined all these 5 vintage compressor settings, my personal preference for the kind of recording I have at hands is “Vintage Neve 33609”.  I think it is hard to generalize which type of compressor will suit which type of music.  The best is still for you to experiment.  However, with templates such as the ones that are illustrated, it is much faster to nail down which one to apply.

In the next page, I will briefly show you other settings that may suit different types of sound.

Do feel free to leave a comment at the main page.

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