[LAU] OT: Dynamic range compression on classical recordings

Jonathan Gazeley Jonathan.Gazeley at bristol.ac.uk
Thu Oct 9 09:47:41 UTC 2014

Thanks Fons for your detailed response. Some thoughts inline...

On 08/10/14 22:17, Fons Adriaensen wrote:
> There are several methods, and the best approach is to make
> each of them handle a few dBs, and combine them.
> * If you use Ardour to record, then editing the region gain
>    curve is a very convenient way to reduce the dynamics in
>    function of the music itself (it's much easier than trying
>    to use automation for this). The advantage compared to using
>    compression is that you can anticipate level changes - as
>    you would when adjusting the level manually while reading
>    the score.
> * In many cases I've used a gentle automatic compression, with
>    a ratio of 1.2 or so and a low threshold, so you get a very
>    gradual gain change over a wide range of levels. This was done
>    using zita-dc1, which unfortunately is not released yet.
This is almost the method I've been trying so far. I think my mistake 
was setting the threshold too high and then compressing too much. I 
think I set the threshold to -9dB or something like that, and then 
compressed 1:2 to flatten out the peaks. It sounded unnatural. I will 
try your advice.
> * In most cases peaks are very short, and a peak limiter will
>    remove them and allow 5 dB or more extra gain without any
>    perceptible artefacts. The best one for this is zita-dpl1
>    which was designed exactly for this type of use. I've used
>    it on all recordings I made the last years, without exception.
This sounds helpful. I will experiment with this. It might not help 
though, since in my case, the peaks are not normally too short. The 
loudest parts are full choir and pipe organ, while the quietest parts 
are solo voice.
> Combining these, it's not at all difficult to boost your average
> level by 15 dB or so (and even more if needed) in a way that will
> still sound completely natural.

Good to know. That will easily be sufficient. Thanks for your advice - 
I'll let you know how I get on.

Have a nice day,

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