Sound on Sound wrote a dope article on compression you can find at
The summary and their main bullet points are below.
- First, concentrate on the balance. Can you hear everything you need to?
- When you can’t find a static position for a fader, mult and/or compress to try to remedy that.
- When compression does solve your balance problem, ask yourself a second question: do I like the subjective ‘sound’ of my compression? If not, try a few different compressors or presets.
- If you still can’t find a static fader position that works, you probably need to do some other processing or automation work to reach that magical balance.
There’s more to using compressors than just solving mix-balance problems, but until you’re confident with their fundamental gain-reduction properties, their more advanced and creative applications will be a bit baffling. I hope this article has clarified these basic functions in such a way that you can start putting them to use sensibly straight away, while avoiding the most common processing mistakes. Once you’re confident of which controls you need to reach for in any given case, you’ll find that the more subtle differences between compressors begin to become more relevant, and that the purpose of more advanced multi-band and parallel-processing techniques becomes more logical. All of which can be exciting and interesting stuff — but that’s a very different article!