The Compressor is your bread and butter in mixing. If you know can really wield EQing and Compression, then you can deal with 80% of all problems when mixing. The Compressor is probably the most used Ableton live device. Even though producers constantly grab the compressor, there are some less known features that can greatly help the mix.
Adding the Auto Feature:
There are two features on the Compressor that can help make things automatic. The first one is the Auto Button. This will automatically decide the release amount compared to the input signal. It makes it quick and easy to let Live determine how long before releasing the compressor. Once this is activated you cannot manually set the Release amount.
Second automatic feature is the Makeup button. Enabling the Makeup button automatically compensates the output level if the threshold and ratio settings change. In other words, if you change the Ratio of the compression, then Live will automatically adjust the output gain. These are both helpful in automating Live’s Compressor.
Expand instead of Compress:
I love using the Expand feature on the Compressor. It’s a little-known gem. With the Compressor set to Expand it acts as an upward expander, and will increase the gain when signals exceed the threshold. With this feature you can make the louder parts louder, giving you a bigger dynamic range. Normally a Compressor pushes the louder parts down, but now with Expand it will increase them if it is over the threshold.
Return to Default:
This next trick is helpful with almost every parameter in Ableton Live. After you adjust a parameter you might find you want to go back to the default setting. There are three ways of doing this. First is manually by hand, which sucks, second is by right clicking the parameter and choosing “return to the default, and third you can click the parameter in question and hit the delete key.
This simple feature is a massive time saver for all those that don’t know it.
Oversampling with Glue Compressor:
Next up we will look at the Glue Compressor in Live. Do you know the oversampling function in both Glue Compressor and EQ Eight? Oversampling can help deal with digital clipping and lead to a cleaner compression.
Oversampling can be toggled on or off via the right-click(PC) / CTRL–click(Mac) context menu. Enabling this option causes the Glue Compressor to internally process at two times the current sampling rate, which may reduce aliasing and transient harshness. There is a slight increase in CPU usage with Oversampling enabled. Note that with Oversampling enabled, the level may exceed 0 dB even with Soft clip enabled. – Ableton Live Manual
I highly suggest using oversampling if you are using the Glue Compressor as a limiter. Sadly, we do not have this feature with the normal Live Compressor.
There you go, the 4 features of the compressor I find underutilized by producers. Hope you find these tips and tricks helpful. If you have another secret up your sleeve, let us know about it in the comments.