After reading this post: Video – Intro to Compressors, or assuming you already understand the meaning of the different controls on a compressor, the video below from “wado1942” shows a good way of setting the controls one at a time to get the desired result.
The setup before adjusting anything is as follows:
- set the threshold to maximum value so that initially it has no effect
- set attack and release to minimum values so the compressor starts and stops as fast as possible (compresses for the minimal amount of time)
- set the ratio to it’s maximum value to maximize the amount of compression
Having set the above starting values for the compressor controls, begin to adjust them one at a time like this:
- adjust the threshold to the point where the compressor is rapidly turning on and off. You want the threshold set so that the compressor is working, but not constantly on. The purpose of a compressor is to decrease the volume of the loudest parts (the peaks) of a signal, Not to decrease the volume of the entire signal.
- adjust the attack and later the release, to get the desired smoothness. Do you want the compressor to suddenly start and stop working or do you want a more gradual effect?
- adjust the ratio to get the desired amount of compression. I typically aim for about 3db of gain reduction.
Here’s the video that demonstrates the above steps: