I was watching a video from Rick Beato on compression and an interesting question popped into my mind.
If my patch is purely software - no connection to external physical plugins or instrument hardware - does a compressor have any efficacy? I have twiddled compressor settings (ratio/threshold etc) and all I seem to ‘hear’ are changes in level.
Or maybe my audio system, which is just a ROG motherboard audio and some 20 year old gaming speakers, is not up to scratch to hear any subtleties?
it has the same efficacy as it would with hardware. if the compressor is working as expected, you’ll likely hear a more “squished” sound, where some aspects that were quieter are now louder in comparison to other sounds.
so, the question then becomes: is your compressor actually working as expected?
absolutely. you can see some criticisms of vcvrack compressors and a note about an out-of-rack compressor in this comment: Charred Desert 1.1.0 - it might be worth trying RoughRider2 and seeing how it compares.
One use case I mention in the manual for my compressor - put it right after a filter and before the VCA. Set to to squish as hard as possible. Then you can sweep the filter all over the place without the level changing. I wouldn’t say it’s a better or worse sound than “normal”, but it is a different sound.
In most compressors you would pick the highest compression ratio and the minimum threshold. It’s the same with mine, although the setting I call “Limit” is actually an infinite ratio. With the advantage that it’s implemented with totally separate code that uses much, much less CPU.
So set it on limit, the decrease the threshold while increasing the make up gain. The bar meter will tell you how much you are squishing, although it only goes up to about 12 db. I Haven’t tried it, but threshold all the way down, out (makeup gain) all the way up would be an extreme starting point.