Ratio – the lower is the ratio, the lower is the compressor’s influence on the signal. A small ratio is usually set when engineer needs to compress the sound dynamics slightly and carefully, for example, when he works with a “tender” voice part or some other “soft” instruments. Such compression is gentle and doesn’t cause distortions. A high ratio is used when audio engineer needs to significantly restrict the dynamics or limit the signal. For example, it’s necessary when the track handed to the music mixing and mastering studio has a high dynamic range and it needs to level out the volumes of its quiet and loud parts. A good starting point for adjusting this parameter is 3:1, which is a frequently used value.
Attack – the attack time is adjusted depending on the goals set by an engineer. If you want to suppress sharp sounds like guitar attacks or drum hits, set a very fast attack time, so the compressor won’t miss them. If sound engineer wants to compress the sounds of medium length, instead of affecting sharp sound attacks, then he should increase the time. Try to find a value, where the compressor stops processing immediate values and starts compressing signals of medium speed. Note that a fast attack time can cause sound distortions (especially if low frequencies are present), but if you absolutely need to use a fast attack time, the best solution will probably be to use a multiband compressor.
Release – if the attack time is very fast and adjusted for suppressing sharp sound peaks, then the release time should be fast as well.
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