A beginner’s guide to understanding the audio compressor attack setting

A beginner’s guide to understanding the audio compressor attack setting

Understanding the compressor attack setting

The compressor attack setting lets you tell the compressor how soon it should jump into action and compress an audio signal when it crosses the compressor’s threshold. The attack time is defined in milliseconds. The lower the number, the faster the attack time.

If you’re using a slow attack time, the compressor won’t kick into action straight away. It will allow some of the audio signal to pass through uncompressed before the compressor turns the signal down. If you’re using a faster attack time, then the compressor will turn the signal down sooner. So the faster the attack time, the sooner the compression will occur when a signal crosses the threshold.

Using the compressor attack setting

Where you set the compressor attack time is often dependent on what it is you are compressing and how you want the compression to sound. A fast attack time will see the compressor clamp down on the signal really quickly and tame the audio signal’s transients. With a slower attack time however, the compressor will let some of the transients through before compression occurs.

In some instances, a really fast attack time can make things sound unnatural. If the attack time is too slow however, the compressor may miss the loud part of the signal entirely.

The compressor attack setting gives you lots of control over the way the compressor affects your audio signal. You are able to use the attack time to pinpoint exactly when you want the compression to occur once a signal crosses the threshold. So using the compressor attack setting is a key step in really crafting the way your compression sounds.

Does this give you a better idea of what the compressor attack setting does? Leave your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.

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