Adventures In Audio

Get the sound you want from the tools you have

"Get the sound you want from the tools you have" - That's the strapline on the cover of the November 2021 edition of Sound On Sound mag.

Well, I couldn't have said it better myself. We all like equipment, we all like software, we all like plug-ins. But which of them should come first in importance?

Answer - None of them. Music should come first.

I'd like to be able to say that I have always put music first, and equipment, software, and plug-ins second, third, and fourth, in no particular order. But I only have to look at the massive drop-down menu of plug-ins in my Pro Tools setup to see that I haven't always been following my own advice.


The specific topic of the relevant article in the mag is compression, and I'm going to say that the content of the article doesn't quite match up with my take on the strapline of the cover.

The article, by SOS Editor Sam Inglis, is a comprehensive run-through of what a compressor can do, what it should do, and what it can do for you.

That's great, and I recommend a read. I doubt there are many people who wouldn't find something they don't already know. (Was that a triple negative? Whoops!)

But what I thought I was going to read is rather different...

How many compressors do you need?

With no sense of criticism of the article, because it's my error in interpretation, I thought that the main thrust would be that you already have a compressor in your DAW - they all have at least one compression plug-in as standard - and you don't really need any more.

I said 'need' there. I didn't say 'want'.

My view is that you actually only need two compressors - one that is clean and accurate, and one that has character. There's enough range of expression there to win you your Grammy award if your technique and art are strong enough.

In fact, I often find with Audio Masterclass students that too many plug-ins lead to too much confusion. It's easy to acquire a dozen or more compression plug-ins and not really learn any of them properly. But if you have just two, then after just a few sessions you'll get to know them really well and truly get the best out of them, to the not-to-be-underestimated benefit of your music.

There's always temptation however, and I'm not immune.


One further point that I must add is that some people, myself included, work best when their concentration is focused by having only a few, most relevant, tools to hand. With fewer tools, you are forced to become more creative.

But also I've met people who seem to have the ability to command almost limitless resources, and have in their memory the exact process or effect they want, down to not only the individual plug-in but which preset, factory or custom, and which minute tweak of which control that will get the perfect sound.

If you can do this, or develop this ability, then great. But I expect that for most of us, getting the sound we want from the tools we have, as in the title of this article, will be the way to go.

Thursday November 18, 2021

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Learn Pro Tools with our amazing range of video courses

Pro Tools video course catalog

Browse Pro Tools courses...

Learn Logic Pro with our amazing range of video courses

Logic Pro video course catalog

Browse Logic Pro courses...

Learn Cubase with our amazing range of video courses

Cubase video course catalog

Browse Cubase courses...

More from Adventures In Audio...

Hi-Fi comfort OVER your ears? TRUEFREE O1 detailed review

Get the tube sound in your system with the Fosi Audio P3

Any studio you like, any listening room you like - For producers and audiophiles

Hidden Hi-Fi - The equipment you never knew you *didn't* need - Fosi Audio N3

Adding tubes to a jazz mix with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to a rock master with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to female vocals with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to male vocals with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to real drums with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to a bass guitar with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to speech with Freqport Freqtube

Adding tubes to an acoustic guitar with Freqport Freqtube

Parabolic reflector microphone - Sound On Sound latest issue

Your power amp is average - Here's why

MANCAVE REVIEW: In-ear monitors - Better than earbuds?

Can this tiny amp really produce 600 watts? - Fosi Audio V3

MANCAVE - Recreating Olivia Rodrigo's 'Vampire' vocal

Why does this song sound so bad?

Audiophiles - You're all wrong!

MANCAVE RE-REVIEW: OpenRock Pro earbuds in language Audiophiles can understand

MANCAVE REVIEW: OpenRock Open-Ear Air Conduction Sport Earbuds

Can lossy digital audio be better than lossless?

Man-Cave: Microphone mysteries revealed

How I improved my audio - From the Mancave