Thursday, February 26, 2015

Client Q and A with GHP

Excited to get our first question from the Facebook post on Wednesday!  The question is:  "
What is compression, and how do you use it in your recordings?"

This is a great question.  Compression has two basic meanings; One, when you reduce the size of an audio file for ease of transmission--say compressing a .wav file to an .mp3.  This is something you can do within most DAWs, but to be honest I never do it.  I always record to a minimum of 24-bit/44.1 and never use a container like .mp3.

The .mp3 container is popular for streaming, and it's what iTunes does to your CD tracks in order to host more of them on a device or stream them more easily.  Back when I first started recording in 2007, I would occasionally save versions of things as .mp3 files to cut down on file size--so that I could email them.  But with the advent of Dropbox and similar services (clouds, file-sharing services like WeTranfer), there's no reason to do so.  Not for me, anyway. And when I go running and listen to streaming music on Pandora, for example, I just have to get over how bad highly compressed audio files sound.

The second meaning is called Dynamic Range Compression, or DRC.  When you compress something using a plug-in algorithm, you are narrowing the dynamic range of the file.  In other words, it brings down the louds, and brings up the lows.  This can also add a lot of punch to a mix if used correctly.

Do I use DRC compression?  Yes.  But only under certain circumstances.  Some pieces need it--say the Silverman commissions on our SoundCloud page--Sparklefrog has a light "classical" compression setting determined by the VST plug-in Am-munition in Samplitude, while Quick Blood has a stronger setting.  The Trevino, however, has no compression whatsoever, and that's largely due to the way we recorded it (keyboards first, percussion on a second pass, close mics on everything with a healthy gain structure).

For drum set, definitely.  I will usually run compression on the snare drum and kick; sometimes the toms, depending on what I'm after.

The trick is to think about how your tracks are likely to be experienced--if it's pop music, you'll find LOTS of compression, as the normal listening levels of music today are way higher than those of the past decades.  If classical, it really depends on the dynamic range of the project.

But mostly, I think my job is just to make things sound the best they can, and sometimes compression can add some power--but the key is to use it judiciously, and not as a fallback in your workflow.

Jeff, I hope that answers your question!  Send more to us on Facebook, and look for more answers soon!

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Website Reveal!

We are VERY excited about our new website design, and also about the "official" launch of Garnet House Productions as a Limited Liability Company!  This is something that we've been working towards for many years, and only through our amazing clients and support staff have we been able to take the plunge.

While this blog used to be mostly for pictures, it will now be a real blog, complete with project discussions, hints, reviews, and other information that our clients--and new clients--might enjoy.  So please keep us bookmarked and let us know if there is any topic you'd like for us to deal with as part of the blog.

Check out and enjoy!

The Garnet House Production Team