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Know your Compressors - RComp overview




RComp is a classic compressor plugin that you've likely encountered in sessions and utilized. But... do you REALLY know how it works?


This short article aims to enhance your understanding of its functionality and help you make the most of this amazing compressor.


Let's delve into the custom features and functionalities of the compressor.


Warm/Smooth:

Selecting "Smooth" will result in a cleaner sound, while opting for "Warm" will introduce harmonics to the low frequencies without affecting higher frequencies.

I personally favor the "Warm" option for most instruments, but I encourage you to try both options and decide for yourself. Additionally, consider whether you'll be deploying RComp across many tracks, as there is an accumulative effect when using "Warm" across multiple tracks.


Opto vs. Electro:

Opto and Electro settings significantly influence the release behavior, representing opposite ends of the spectrum. The release value, however, remains crucial in determining the time it takes for the compressor to reach 0 dB of gain reduction (GR).


Opto/Electro settings dictate the approach to achieving this goal.

Think of -3 dB of GR as the threshold distinguishing between two distinct behaviors.


In Opto Mode:

  • While GR is above 3 dB, the release is faster.

  • From 3 dB to near 0 dB of GR, the release becomes slower.


In Electro Mode:

  • While GR is above 3 dB, the release is slower.

  • From 3 dB to near 0 dB of GR, the release becomes faster.


Visualize Opto in purple and Electro in pink. We measure the time it takes the compressor to release the signal once it drops below the threshold.



While the release itself will still take the same amount of time to reach 0 dB of gain reduction, it feels different.

Opto gives the impression that the compressor holds onto the last portion of the reduction, making it feel "slower." On drums, it imparts a beefier quality.


Electro, on the other hand, feels "snappier" and edgier when applied to drums.



Manual/ARC:

The manual release is determined by the defined release time for the compressor and functions as a traditional release.


ARC (Auto Release Control) is influenced by the release time but only considers it as the longest release possible. ARC is not a fixed value; it is dynamic and impressively intelligent. It operates by analyzing the signal and determining the best release time for each detected audio, resulting in a natural, smooth sound while achieving louder results.


In shorter release values, there is not much difference between ARC and manual. However, for 90% of applications, ARC has not failed me yet.


Here is an example with a very slow release (2460 ms):

  • With ARC engaged, the release will be faster, providing a more natural feel.

  • On Manual, the GR will be slower.


After covering the special features of Rcomp, namely:

  • Warm = Low-frequency harmonics.

  • Opto/Electro = Release behavior based on GR level during the determined release time.

  • Manual/ARC = Absolute release time vs. automatic dynamic release time that regards the release time as the longest available release time.


Here are a few quick details that you might want to consider:


  • Rcomp is a soft knee compressor, meaning levels below the threshold will actually be reduced.

  • Rcomp has an internal resolution of 64-bit floating-point and will use dither on its output.

  • Rcomp has a limiter set to 0 dBFS.


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