If they'd clapped a little quieter I'd have no problems
February 9, 2010 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Music recording filter: I think I need to use a compressor/limiter on an audio track but I don't know how.

I've been messing around with audio software for many years but really still don't know how to do anything. I can cut and splice and things like that, but compressors and limiters are still totally confusing.

So: I can take your advice and direction, I know how to turn the thing on, just don't know what to do with it.

I have an audio track of an acoustic music house concert (fiddle and flute for what it's worth). It was recorded by a friend on a digital recorder. For the most part the volume is quite low. However the applause is very loud relative to the rest of the track.

I would like to raise the volume on the entire track, and reduce the level of the applause. Can I do this in one operation? For the most part the applause is not clipping.

I've been trying to use Reacomp from Reaper but really can't figure out what to do.
posted by sully75 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A compressor is precisely the thing because it raises low-volume sounds and lowers high-volume sounds to "compress" the dynamic range of volume in a single sound source.
posted by gauche at 6:13 AM on February 9, 2010

Are you satisfied with the dynamic range of the actual music parts? If so, can't you just manually mark the regions with applause and reduce the volume of those segments (with a compressor or otherwise)? It would be a shame if you compress the actual music just to fix a few seconds (?) of applause.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 6:19 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here is a thorough article on compression.

Like swordfishtrombones says, you may be able to simply automate the volume envelope of the track so that it comes down whenever there's applause.

To accomplish this with a compressor, begin with a moderate ratio, maybe 3:1. Set the threshold so that there's no gain reduction during the loudest sections of the music, but there is gain reduction during the applause. You can then adjust the ratio as needed to determine how hard you want to compress the applause, and you can use makeup gain to boost the overall level.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:52 AM on February 9, 2010

I'd say a combination of compression, limiting and even a noise gate, or some calculated EQing, would be the best solution here.

Compression to bring up the volume of the majority of the recording, limiter to bring down any peaks, including the applause, and (optional) parametric equalisation or noise gate to eliminate the hiss which often occurs when you raise the volume of a quiet recording (a live solo or duo is a classic example).

Sorry this is brief - I'm at work, but mefimail me if you want any further tips!
posted by greenish at 7:46 AM on February 9, 2010

To be clear, a limiter is just a compressor with a high ratio, usually 10:1 or higher.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2010

Another vote for volume automation. A compressor is like those glasses that get darker in the sunlight. You just need to put on your shades when you go outside, in this case.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:15 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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