Compression and reverb in recording

MBB

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When listening to drums on records it is obvious the sound generally has been tweaked in the studio. Some records much more than others. My stupid question is how (in simple terms) exactly does adding reverb and compression change the sound? I get the compression analogy to high or low pass filtering (like in image processing), but don't quite understand how it is working with sound aside from applying a filter to "data" meaning looking at a plot or graph of the sound and filtering that. Can someone give me a dummies version of how it works. Can't seem to find a good simple explanation to satisfy my curiosity.
 

dboomer

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Simply put ... compression changes the dynamic range of a track. It squashes the higher level parts down so that the range from the highest sound to the lowest sound shrinks. The resulting track is thicker and has more sustain.

Reverb increases sustain by adding millions of little echos to a source.

btw - compression is in no way related to high or low pass filtering.
 

phdamage

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Simply put ... compression changes the dynamic range of a track. It squashes the higher level parts down so that the range from the highest sound to the lowest sound shrinks. The resulting track is thicker and has more sustain.
very well put. i will only add that compression somewhat mimics what our ears and analog recording mediums do naturally. when a very loud source occurs, it can overload the medium (or our ears), so those big transients end up losing some volume, which instead gets translated to a thicker sound - thanks, in part, to some distortion. in more aggressive sounding music/mixes, you can often notice compression artifacts in the form of the cymbals/guitars/anything else dipping in volume with each bass drum hit.

as for reverb (and delays) - it just serves to add depth and space to sound. no one listens to or thinks of a a drumset with their ears right next to each individual drum (where you often see microphones placed) - we are used to hearing it within a space. reverb is an attempt to recreate a space with all of these close mic'd sources. it serves to add reflections and room sound artifically.
 

Tornado

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Remember also that the fatness people usually associate with compression only happens after you increase the gain after it's been compressed. So the louder parts are squashed down, and then the whole track is increased in volume.
 


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