Sure, we may live deep into the future. High in our Blade Runner apartment studios, we use androids for all of the vocals. Yet we still have that occasional need for good, old-fashioned compression. Like the soy-based dinners we microwave and the synthehol beer we wash it down with, it has to be simulated.

Audio Damage has earned its cult following thanks to inexpensive plug-ins with no-nonsense controls that just seem to fit into projects. So it’s nice to see his new, free Rough Rider compressor. Simple controls, a slight vintage tint, and crankable parameters – not the “careful with that, too far, total destruction!” feeling you get from, say, the unpredictable compressors included with some hosts.

I see on Twitter that Tom from Music thing likes Rough Rider, and he’s a hardware guy, so that’s a good sign. That means he didn’t just eBay some ancient, slightly irradiated piece of Russian equipment.

Rough Rider Download Page @ Audio Damage [Mac, Windows – yep, a free Mac plug-in!]

Via the Ruin & Wesen blog, here’s another way to approach compression in Ableton Live. Live may instantly make you a remix artist or loop addict, but it can’t turn you into a mastering engineer. That means you can either apply science (blech!) or complete voodoo. We choose a culture of voodoo.

My friend utofbu pointed me out the trick of using a Dynamic Tube in Ableton, with Dry/Wet on 50%, and output gain to -3db. This adds a subtle distortion to the sound which makes it more lively … I finally tweaked a "killer" combo which I saved as an Effect Rack, and now just throw it on the master channel once I’ve finished my song. It just makes everything sound a bit nicer, and it’s totally voodoo.

Ableton Compression Trick [Ruin & Wesen]


The magic ingredient turns out to be none other than the Vintape Reaktor Ensemble. If you own Reaktor, this could mean some free goodness to add to any host, not just Live – Vintape adding tape simulation, some other effect adding tube distortion and compression (or perhaps Rough Rider). The ensemble’s creator Stefan Knauthe writes:

Hello Userlibrarists, this is my very first ensemble. As you all know (or maybe not), i’m a huge fan of the scotish [sic] band "Boards of Canada". In Interviews they stated that they often use an old, almost defect Grundig tapemachine for recording, adding wow and flutter, saturation and hiss to the signal, to give it a "sound-ageing" feeling. This is what this ensemble simulates…: there are two wow&flutter units for left and right, followed by a saturation unit and a phaser/flanger section.

And, as we like to encourage in tools like Reaktor, creator Stefan borrowed from another Reaktor ensemble (from Jo Orgren) to get wow and flutter.

You can grab Vintape on the User Library at Native Instruments:

Simpler Vintape [the version R&W use]

Vintape Original

Got favorite compression tips? Give a holler, or send a holographic encoded message. Or just wait, because remember, CDM is monitoring everything you do.

  • leo cavallo

    Or you could also try Sonitex, by OtiumFX.

    I just purchased the plug-in and to me it's the "non plus ultra" for adding any kind of analog grit/dirt to your sounds/mixes.

  • Thumbs up for the Audio Damage freebie. FabFilter Pro-C covers pretty much all I need but like most effect plug-ins, I don't mind having more options.

  • bliss

    I have a compression mastering trick: Don't limit or compress on the master channel. Do so on individual tracks where it's needed or wanted. Use ears, voodoo, and fairy dust. How's that?

  • A free Audio Damage plug-in, with an OSX version. I must have done something right today.

  • tobamai

    I think bliss has the right idea: voodoo and fairy dust. I recommend dropping in seven secret spices too, if your host supports loading them.

  • Blockfish is a freeware compressor with a saturation stage and a lot of other odd parameters (read its documentation), but the best thing I've been playing with lately is Dominion, which allows you to shape the "attack" and "sustain" of an input signal without compression. In other words, it allows you to control compression-like effects (e.g. snappiness) without squashing the dynamic range, or otherwise having to worry about thresholds and ratios. Prior to Dominion, most of the time I was not even using compressors for the purpose of actual dynamic range compression, so it presents a more intuitive way of thinking about… stuff.
    reading the documentation for this helps too

  • I have Reaktor and will certainly try this trick, but here's freeware alternatives:
    Wow N Flutter VST
    TimeMachine VST vintage sampler emulator
    SEND Spectrum Enhancing Non-linear Device
    Ferox VST vintage tape modeller plugin

  • funny, i found also the dynamic tube trick in ableton some days ago, and it rocks !!!

    my fav settings :
    dry/wet 30%
    tube settings : c
    drive 2.5
    tone -0.32
    bias 27%

    very good on drumkit

  • blockfish & dominion don't work on last intel mac…
    it was a great lost…


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