The Magic Compressor Settings that work on Everything

The Magic Compressor Settings

Mastering the art of audio compression when mixing your home studio productions can transform ordinary recordings into professional-grade tracks. Welcome to The Magic Compressor Settings guide where I'll reveal a simple 6-step process to get the best compressor settings for vocals, drums,  instruments, virtual instruments, samples and synths. This guide will help you maximize the power of compression in your digital audio workstation (DAW) or home studio so your music sounds professional. 

⭐️ Download the free PDF version of  this guide The Magic Compressor Settings that work on everything!


Step 1: 1:1 Ratio

Insert a compressor on to the mixer channel, 100% wet mix, and start with a 1:1 ratio (no compression). We'll turn it up to 4:1 after step 2.


Step 2: Fast Release & Medium Attack

Always start with a fast release time. This is either a setting that says "fast" or the lowest millisecond setting. Later you can time the release to match the tempo of the song. A medium attack should work for most applications.


Step 3: Gain Reduction Meter

If there is an option to choose the Output meter or the Gain Reduction meter, choose the GR meter. This will display the amount of compression.


Step 4: Set The Threshold

Adjust the threshold level so that the loudest peaks cross the line and the quietest parts don't cross. Ideally you will have between +3dB to +6dB of gain reduction.


Step 5: Set The Ratio

Now you can bring the ratio back up to 4:1 and listen for the compression. Look at the Gain Reduction Meter for a visual guide.


Step 6: Bypass

A/B listen to your original and then compressed signal by using the bypass (or compressor on/off) button. Match the levels using the output level or makeup gain. *I would recommend output level instead of makeup gain as it can sometimes be unreliable for level matching.

⭐️ Download my Free Guide: The Magic EQ Settings  


If the compressor makes your signal sound better when the levels are matched, you can move on. If the original uncompressed signal sounds better simply repeat the steps or move on without the compressor. 


Remember that getting the best compressor settings is not just about achieving technical perfection but about infusing your music with depth, clarity, and emotion, bringing your artistic vision to life in every beat, note, and lyric.


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Also read: 

Compressor Plugin 101: The Best Vocal Compression Settings

The Best Equalizer Settings: The 5 Step Magic EQ Settings that work on everything!

The Ultimate Guide to DAW Vocal Production for Beginners



Hey, I'm Futch - Music Production Coach and Ableton Certified Trainer

I've been teaching audio engineering and music production for 35 years.⭐️ 

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