Recording with a compressor

Author: sleepfreaks

Applying compression during the recording process


In this article, we will take a look at the highly requested technique of applying compression while recording.
In the age of digital effects, we believe that many are curious as to why you would choose to record a signal with compression applied.
We will go over some ways to utilize hardware compressors during this process while looking into this topic.

Recording with compression – Tutorial video

Difference in compressing pre/post recording

First lets take a quick use at the function compression.
Compressors help maintain a stable volume on recorded instruments, and make it more listenable/controllable, as well as easier to use when mixing.

What is the difference in applying the compression pre/post recording on a DAW?

There are pros and cons to both of these methods.
Though difficult to imagine for beginners, compression applied pre recording (before entering the DAW) makes monitoring and mixing easier, and this provides quite a benefit.
In addition, you get the characteristic sound of a hardware comp, and though depending on the product, provides a hard to replicate sound.
To decrease disadvantages of applying pre recording, applying it lightly and adding another layer of compression post recording is a well used technique.

Connecting your hardware compressor

Lets take a look at how to connect your hardware compressor to apply the compression before the recorded signal reaches the DAW.


It is very simple as shown above. The compressor is connect between the mic and audio interface.
When using a mic preamp, in most cases we would place the signal between the mic pre and the audio interface.
In addition, if your interface has an「INSERT」input, you can connect the compressor here.

Compression with recording examples

What does it actually sound like when recorded in this way?


We used a vocal for this example, and used FMR AUDIO’s「RNC1773」great cost/price ratio compressor.
The settings are as shown below.

BM - 1

We compared a version compressed while recording, and one without, with the same plugins and volume settings.

    • Without compression during recording
    • With compression

The version with recorded compression has much more stable dynamics.
The version without would require more care when editing.

Let’s hear a version where the one without pre recorded compression has a compressor added post recording to hear the difference.

    • Compression added post recording

Though it depends on personal preference, it’s hard to deny the style that a hardware compressor provides.

We can’t say that recording with compression is a must for certain, but for intermediate and advanced producers who are looking to try a new approach may find this method intriguing.
Hopefully this will help improve your workflow, and expand your sound design capabilities.