Overcompression

I really absolutely totally and completely cannot wait for this daft overcompression trend to die out.

I’ve just spent the first hour of a project going through and automating all the levels so the main sections – you know, the bits where it’s all happening and you’re supposed to be dancing – aren’t 2 to 3dB quieter than the breakdowns. You know, breakdowns – the quiet bits. I have to automate the level several dB before I can even start working on the sound. I’m constantly seeing tunes that are upside down, and have been for years now. It’s completely ridiculous.

This has been going on for ages and I’ve nearly written this post a million times, but ugh, enough. If your tune is basically upside down then you’re doing too much producing, not enough listening. Sit on your hands for a bit. Put the play marker to the start and listen to the tune. Ask yourself: does it sound stupid?

‘But I like the pumping vacuum sound’, yeah I get all that. But you can do it without making your tune upside down. I’m NOT against compression, or the pumping sound, I’m really not. But what happened to tasteful application? What happened to subtlety? What happened to maybe just not doing it so stupidly that entire tunes are macrodynamically upside down? And what happened to listening to things to make sure that wasn’t happening?

Besides which, on a purely musical level, it’s OLD. It’s played out. It’s hackneyed. It’s boring. It’s been done. Flying Lotus is cool because it’s Flying Lotus. Now everyone does it in everything all the time and it’s boring. You know how recently someone grew a beard and it was cool, and a few people did it and it was cool, and then everyone did it and now it isn’t cool any more? Well, that. On the radio some nerd said at the time, ‘we have reached peak beard’.

I’m hoping, if you’ll pardon the dreadful audio pun, that we’ve reached peak compression.

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  1. #1 by hackenslash on June 19, 2015 - 2:12 pm

    I just took up photography; won’t it be cool if I point the camera out the car window and leave the shutter open while I drive along?

    Good stuff, as always.

  2. #2 by duffah on June 20, 2015 - 10:17 am

    Putting the marker at the beginning and listening through with a cigarette was always the best bit for me.

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