Tips for audio compression and limiting

Tips for audio compression and limiting

While I do not recommend using automatic gain control, the use of compression is an invaluable tool in location audio. Use compression and limiting to prevent an over-modulated signal being passed onto your audio recorder, thus creating signal distortion.

Portable field mixers usually come with a simple compressor/limiter switch which can save you from that rogue overload, but it is best to keep your production audio lower and use these compressors sparingly since you do not have the setup controls that you would in an outboard compressor. Excessive compression will produce a “pumping” effect of the audio signal.

If a microphone compressor is working “overtime”, lower the gain structure on that individual channel to keep the compression minimal. Excessive compression will produce a “pumping” effect of the audio signal.

And as a good rule of thumb, when setting up compressed record levels, always place the compressors in the “Bypass” mode — otherwise the level settings will be incorrect.