Compressing Music

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Handinon

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Oct 1, 2014
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I think most of us can agree that current music does not need additional compression. However, I play a lot of older music that was recorded prior to the "Loudness Wars". These songs can benefit from compression when being played in a noisy environment , i.e., a bar. Rather than using a hardware compressor that compresses everything, I've chosen to compress individual files, as needed. Audacity has one built in, but there is an even better one by Chris Capel (unfortunately deceased). The current version 1.2.6 is free, and works as an Audacity plugin, or even better, as a stand alone program that can batch process ! It is available here -

https://github.com/theDanielJLewis/dynamic-compressor-for-audacity/releases

If you're on Windows, download the zip file, unzip, and navigate to the standalone-windows Directory. The program "Compressor.exe" will run without installing.
You simply drag and drop the files you want to compress. I've used Compression levels as high as 0.75. Two caveats. It will only handle 44,100 files (standard CD) not 48,000. Also, if encoding back to mp3, you must specify the location in your system where the LAME encoder is located. Frankly, besides Mix, I don't know how you could be a DJ in 2021 and not already have a LAME encoder in your system. The default LAME arguments work fine, but produce a VBR file.

If anyone actually tries this, please share your results.
 

rickryan.com

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Dec 9, 2009
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www.RickRyan.com
My opinion, it's really easy to over do thing with permanently compressing a file with software. I usually run a quality hardware compressor (dbx 166) on over easy mode and have it between the mixer and speakers. It doesn't fix the disparity in levels but it does tame the bass transients and effectively gives you a lot more headroom (and without hitting clip lights).
 

Handinon

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Oct 1, 2014
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My opinion, it's really easy to over do thing with permanently compressing a file with software.
The Default setting of the Program creates a new file, leaving the original.

I usually run a quality hardware compressor (dbx 166) on over easy mode and have it between the mixer and speakers. It doesn't fix the disparity in levels but it does tame the bass transients and effectively gives you a lot more headroom (and without hitting clip lights).
Understand, but I prefer not to have another piece of hardware in the signal path - and IMHO, most newer music doesn't need any compression at all.

My situation is somewhat unique. El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico is a very popular Latin group that has been recording for over 50 years. A lot of their earlier recordings sound like they were done in someone's garage. This is further compounded by the lower than 120 kbps mp3's of some of their work, EVEN from legitimate sources. Ever use a program like Fakin' The Funk on your Library? It can be a real eye (ear) opener! Anyway, it's stuff like this that really benefits from compression, and my ears tell me that a lot of Do Wop and early Motown have the same problems.
 
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Jeff Romard

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The Default setting of the Program creates a new file, leaving the original.


Understand, but I prefer not to have another piece of hardware in the signal path - and IMHO, most newer music doesn't need any compression at all.

My situation is somewhat unique. El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico is a very popular Latin group that has been recording for over 50 years. A lot of their earlier recordings sound like they were done in someone's garage. This is further compounded by the lower than 120 kbps mp3's of some of their work, EVEN from legitimate sources. Ever use a program like Fakin' The Funk on your Library? It can be a real eye (ear) opener! Anyway, it's stuff like this that really benefits from compression, and my ears tell me that a lot of Do Wop and early Motown have the same problems.
A few years ago I acquired quite a few local records that were not the best recordings I think I'll try this see if I can clean them up a bit thanks
 
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Proformance

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Nov 6, 2006
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Digital mixers have compression (and other effects) on board so, it's just unnecessary work to make compressed copies of existing files. That being said - it also matters WHO you are playing these songs for. While younger crowds may want everything to sound like today's hits - most people prefer to hear original tracks as they remember and love them - with all the "grit" of the given era.

I think normalizing tracks is all that's really required to fit this bill. I also don't think simple compression is the path to take if the goal is to clean up and punch up the vocals. That's going to require multi-band compression and a few other tricks.

Old recordings are already heavily compressed. They had to be in order to stay within the dynamic range of the tape medium they were recorded on. If your tracks are normalized to a consistent spec there shouldn't be any real disparity.
 
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