How to use Cubase’s “Vintage Compressor” – Compression for Beginners.

How to use Cubase’s “Vintage Compressor” – Compression for Beginners.

The 1176 compressor is simple, but not intuitive.

The first time I saw an 1176 plugin, I had no idea how to use it.  Where is the threshold control?  How many milliseconds is the release and attack?  What about the knee?  This video will get you rolling with this or any other 1176 emulation.

SEE ALSO How to use 1176 Compressor Plugins – Compression for Beginners

Several of these features are fixed.

You can’t change the threshold of an 1176; it is fixed.  You increase and decrease gain by raising and lowering the input, the compression ratio, and the attack/release controls.

The 1176, as well as Cubase’s Vintage Compressor, is almost dummy-proof.

As you’ll see in the video, the 1176 has few controls, and as a result, there is less that you can mess up.

How to Compress Vocals – Compression for Beginners

How to Compress Vocals – Compression for Beginners

There are no steadfast rules.

You can get some great sounds by breaking the rules, but the fact that you’re reading this in the first place tells me that you want some guidelines to start you off.

What is a good starting point for compressing vocals?

I would say that general wisdom tells us to compress for -1db to -5db most of the time.  The ratios that I’ve seen for vocals usually fall between 2:1 to 6:1, depending on if you wanted to give a constant thickening of the vocals or if you wanted to simply tame the loud parts (which would call for a higher ratio.)


How does the sound of vocals change based on the threshold and ratio changes?

Check it out:

How Does a Compressor Work? Compression For Beginners

How Does a Compressor Work? Compression For Beginners

Each of the knobs does something important.

  1. The threshold is when the compressor starts working.
  2. The ratio tells it how much it should compress once the track’s volume goes over the threshold.
  3. The attack tells how fast it should start compressing.
  4. The release tells how fast to stop compressing.
  5. The gain, or makeup adds volume to the track to make up for the decrease in volume during the loud parts.

But where do I start?

When you want light, constant compression:

  1. Start by setting a ratio around 3:1.
  2. Adjust the threshold until you see around 1db-3db of gain reduction.
  3. Adjust the attack and release to taste.

When you want the compressor to only compress the loud parts:

  1. Set the ratio to around 4:1 or 6:1
  2. Adjust the threshold so that the compressor does nothing until those loud parts.
  3. Adjust the attack and release to taste.

What is Compression?

If you don’t exactly understand what compression is or why we use it, take a look at this article on compression.

What is Compression? | Compression for Beginners

What is Compression? | Compression for Beginners

The basics of how a compressor works.

It’s essentially an invisible hand automatically raising and lowering the volume of a track.  The idea is to lower the volume on the loud parts so that you can hear the quiet parts better.

Learn with whatever you have available.

You’ll find people in online forums fighting over whether one plugin is better than the other, or whether you can get as good of a sound out of plugins as you can with hardware, or any other sort of nonsense.  Don’t listen to them.  Whatever you have in your DAW is good enough to record.  If you are just starting out, your lack of experience and knowledge will eliminate any possible advantages of using an expensive plugin or outboard gear.

Use your eyes and your ears.

The most important thing is what the track sounds like.  Things like -db and all of that are simply a way for me to talk to you about some starting points.  Can you record a platinum record with a vocal getting -20db of compression?  Sure, it’s been done.  Don’t take any of the tips that I give as steadfast rules—they are simply starting points.