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The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Compression

The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Compression

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Confused about compression and dynamics? Ready to master all of its techniques and tricks? Start here...

The Audio Masterclass Professional Course in Compression & Dynamics - Full online course with assessments of your practical assignment work leading to an Audio Masterclass certificate on successful completion.

Gain great skills with great training

Twelve modules - everything you need in compression from start to finish

Also included...

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How you will learn in your course

Audio Masterclass works by flexible self-study and online distance learning. We have students in more than 120 countries all around the world. All you need for your course is a basic home studio setup, a computer with an internet connection, and a strong desire to produce recordings of fully professional quality in your own home studio.

With Audio Masterclass, you will learn professional studio techniques, mixing and creative recording. You can start with the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course, and after that - or if you are already at an advanced level - you can progress to enroll in one of our Professional Courses such as Equalization, Compression, Reverb & Effects, Mixing or Mastering.

Tutorials and videos

Course instruction is through world-class textbook materials, audio tutorials, and supplementary video materials where appropriate. We show you the important techniques of audio that professionals use every day, and you can use yourself in your own home studio. All of the course materials are available online for the full duration of your 12-month enrollment, with enhancement learning materials including videos shot at Abbey Road Studios 2 and 3.

Audio examples

Our tutorials and videos are supported by a wealth of audio examples, which are also online and downloadable. We recommend that you load these examples into your digital audio workstation so that you can listen to them in exactly the same way as when you're recording yourself.

Many of the audio examples will show you what you should aim to achieve, whether the topic is EQ, compression, mixing, mastering etc. Others will show you how things can go wrong - and we'll show you clearly the difference between good audio and bad, and explain the reasons why.

Practical projects

The best way to learn audio is to do audio - recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering. And don't forget the importance of close, attentive listening. The more you do it, the better you'll get.

So your Audio Masterclass course will feature a range of practical projects relating to the modules of the course. The practical projects will set you a task to complete, show you how to do it and point out what could go wrong. And when you have completed your project, you can compare your work with our examples - many of which are created by Audio Masterclass students.

Assessments and certification

You can submit your practical assignment work online for friendly and helpful assessment and comment by Audio Masterclass tutors. When you have submitted all of the assignments of the course successfully you will be eligible to receive your Audio Masterclass Certificate of Achievement. This is delivered digitally, and if you require a paper copy this is available for an additional $20 including worldwide shipping, payable on course completion.

Student advice team

All Audio Masterclass students have access to our Student Advice Team for one full year of enrollment. You can ask questions on any of the course topics and receive a personal response.


Because you have all of your course materials immediately in your hands on delivery you can learn entirely at your own pace. There is no set schedule and you can move quickly or slowly through the course as you wish and take breaks at any time.

Our experience in audio education

Audio Masterclass has experience in audio education going back to 1986. We have been running online courses since 2001 which is longer than any other audio training provider on the web.


At Audio Masterclass we want to give you the fastest, most effective route towards a professional standard of work in your own home studio - a standard that is fully equal to professional studios and commercial releases.

We do this through effective, comprehensive instruction through tutorials and/or videos, audio examples, and practical projects that relate closely to real-world professional practice.

If you want to make fast progress, then Audio Masterclass is here to help.

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What you will learn in your course

Module 01: Analog and Digital Audio

Module 01: Compressor controls 1

Module content: A preliminary introduction to the controls of the compressor including threshold, ratio, gain make-up, and the gain reduction meter.
Assignment 1 - Compression aural exercise 1: This assignment will ask you to match the compression settings of example audio segments, including threshold, ratio, and gain make-up parameters. The purpose is to help you develop an aural understanding of the effects of these controls.
Module 02: Microphones

Module 02: Compressor controls 2

Module content: A further introduction into the controls of the compressor including attack, release, and knee.
Assignment 2 - Compression aural exercise 2: This assignment will ask you to match the compression settings of example audio segments, including attack, release, and knee parameters. The purpose, once again, is to help you develop an aural understanding of the effects of these controls.
Module 03: Microphone Preamplifiers

Module 03: Problems in compression

Module content: Breathing and pumping are two undesirable side-effects of compression (although pumping can sometimes be used as a musical effect). Breathing occurs where the signal to be compressed has audible noise content. As the compressor brings down the peaks of the signal, it also changes the level of the noise. Breathing is the effect of the noise level going up and down. Pumping is similar to breathing but it refers to the signal itself and not noise. Pumping occurs in the gaps between loud sections of the signal when the signal rises in level until being compressed down again at the next peak.
Assignment 3 - Investigation of breathing and pumping: Create examples of breathing and pumping that demonstrate both of these problems very clearly. Your demonstrations should be of sufficient clarity that a non-technical person would be able to hear and understand these issues with minimal explanation.
Module 04: Equalization

Module 04: Stereo linking

Module content: It is important when compressing a stereo signal to activate the stereo link function. This ensures that the stereo image is stable and does not swing from side to side depending on which channel has the louder signal from moment to moment. Plug-in compressors often activate stereo linking automatically so it is important to achieve a full understanding of when stereo linking is and is not necessary.
Assignment 4 - Investigation of stereo linking: This assignment provides a demonstration stereo file where stereo linking is essential if the audio is to be compressed. This assignment will ask you to demonstrate the issues of not stereo linking, and the solution of linking the compression in the two channels.
Module 05: Compression

Module 05: Expansion and gating

Module content: Where compression reduces the dynamic range of a signal, expansion increases it by attenuating low-level signals further, thus reducing noise and other low-level sound. Gating takes this a stage further and silences low-level signals completely. Compression and gating are often used together.
Assignment 5 - Suppression of noise by expansion and gating: Noise is often most noticeably when an instrument is not playing. When the instrument is playing then the noise is masked. When it is not playing, expansion or gating can suppress any audible noise.
Module 06: Recording Software

Module 06: Side chain

Module content: The side chain input of a compressor allows the amount of compression to be controlled by another signal. This is useful for de-essing, for ducking music under speech, and for creating a pumping dance-floor mix.
Assignment 6 - Creating a pumping effect using the side chain: Although this technique can be useful in any musical genre, it is most often found in EDM. The assignment will ask you to make the instruments of the mix dip down in level on every kick drum beat.
Module 07: Effects & Plug-ins

Module 07: Mid-side (MS) compression

Module content: Mid-side compression can be used with a stereo hardware compressor to ensure that the stereo image is stable, and for interesting creative effects that would be difficult or impossible to achieve in any other way.
Assignment 7 - Demonstration of mid-side compression: This assignment will ask you to process a stereo music signal so that it is in mid-side (MS) format. You will then compress the music for a special effect where the width of the stereo image varies in response to the beat of the music.
Module 08: Synthesis & Sampling

Module 08: Transient shaping

Module content: Shaping the initial transient of an impulsive sound, such as a drum hit, bass guitar pluck, or guitar power chord, using compression and expansion or gating.
Assignment 8 - Demonstration of transient shaping: Using the files snare-unprocessed.wav and kick-unprocessed.wav the assignment will ask you to make examples of transient shaping. Your examples will demonstrate shaping of both the initial transient of the sound and the decay.
Module 09: Recording Techniques

Module 09: Gating effects

Module content: Probably the best known gating effect is using a rhythmic signal routed to the key input to trigger a sustained sound, often distorted electric guitar chords, but can be any continuous signal. This creates a rhythmic pulse that is different in character than anything you can achieve with MIDI. The rhythmic pulse can be controlled and enhanced using the attack, hold, decay and range controls.
Assignment 9 - Demonstration of gating effects: Using a sustained sound source and a rhythmic trigger signal routed to the key input, demonstrate a range of sound textures using the attack, hold, decay and range controls.
Module 10: Mixing

Module 10: Dynamic range control

Module content: Controlling dynamic range is the original purpose of the compressor, although this course will show you many of its other uses. Dynamic range can be controlled by fader riding or automation, but this is a time-consuming process. The compressor can be set to control high-level signals and reduce the dynamic range so that everything instruments and vocals are at a more even level and are more pleasant to listen to and easier to mix.
Assignment 10 - Controlling the dynamic range of a vocal: In this assignment you will be given a a recording of female vocal with an extremely wide dynamic range. The assignment will ask you to demonstrate reduction of the dynamic range using automation and a range of compression processes.
Module 11: Mastering

Module 11: Warmth in compression

Module content: An instrument or vocal might not need compression due to an overly wide dynamic range, but it might still sound better after being processed, particularly through a vacuum tube compressor or digital emulation. 'Warmth' is a term we use for mild distortion. This module will explore the creation of warmth using the compressor.
Assignment 11 - Investigation of warmth in compression: This assignment will ask you to find which of your plug-ins offers the greatest degree of warmth. It will then ask you to make a clear demonstration of before and after compression, showing that a vocal or instrument can be enhanced using compression even if the dynamic range is already well controlled.
Module 12: Marketing Your Music & Recording Services

Module 12: Parallel compression

Module content: Standard compression reduces the dynamic range of a signal by lowering its high levels, bringing them closer to the low levels. Parallel compression, sometimes known as New York compression, is a technique whereby the high level signals are unaffected but the low level signals are brought up. Particularly in drum tracks, this can massively increased the sense of excitement and energy.
Assignment 12 - Demonstration of parallel compression: In this assignment you will set up parallel compression in your digital audio workstation using a standard compression plug-in. You will then process a signal so that the low levels are brought up to achieve the sense of excitement and energy that is typical of the technique.
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What our students say about their Audio Masterclass course...

[Some elements of the comments below refer to other Audio Masterclass courses and modes of delivery.]

You did a great job!

Excellent material, audio and videos are really good and clear.

I appreciate the depth, very informative and useful. I increased my knowledge in the area I am so passionate about. I was able to implement a lot of new procedures in my own sound and musical projects.

My gratitude and best regards

Anton Strecky, Slovakia

With my employment in health service established years ago, music and recording is an essential withdrawal from professionalism to me, rather than a significant possibility to provide a supplement to earned income. But with growing interest and investment, achievement of professionally acceptable quality became a must. At that point studying at Audio Masterclass had only pros and no cons to me, and no equally accessible alternatives of world-class standards.

The book "How to set up a Pro Home Recording Studio" [by Audio Masterclass] and other information concerning hardware and software helped me to find "my way" in the jungle of possibilities, and it actually had a money saving effect.

Assessments of practical assignment projects were of especially great importance to me. It is easy for the beginner like me to have an illusion that the produced work is good, while actually it is not. Additional valuable information can be derived from individually provided comments too.

It is very comforting to have tons of audio examples at hand. Even after the course I use some of them as benchmarks of specific quality.

The most special experiences along the way of the course were moments of approaching the presumed limits of creative possibilities… stepping beyond… and finding that there is something more out there. And this kind of training may have implications that are not immediately obvious, but may prove to be of great importance in any intellectually demanding/competitive situation of life. All in all, I consider that to be my greatest gain achieved at Audio Masterclass.

Egidijus Nemanius, Lithuania

I was looking for an audio school online that could give me the information I was missing. I also needed someone to tell me "this is good, here you were wrong, you made such a mistake ...", in fact, I needed a guide! That's when I discovered Audio Masterclass.

Even though I was very interested in what was announced, I still had a great fear; I was afraid that the education provided would be purely theoretical. Several times, even for weeks, I went through the site of Audio Masterclass up and down and compared it with other schools of the same type.

Eventually Audio Masterclass won my membership because it seemed to me to be the most consistent. From the first lesson, I knew that I was not mistaken! Yes, there is a theoretical teaching but it’s really practical and very effective. The lessons are precise and free from the superfluous, what is taught is what is needed to be immediately effective.

After following the 12 modules proposed, I can affirm that I was able to deepen my theoretical and practical knowledge: 1. For example, I used the microphones by instinct or empirically, with more or less happiness. Now I know their characteristics, I know why and how to use different types of mics, how to place them, etc ... 2. In terms of acoustics, electro-acoustics and synthesis, I learned a lot. And you know what? I who was not at all good at maths, I had no trouble to assimilate what was taught because the explanations provided were really very clear. 3. Knowing one's work tool is very important.

I can assure you that the teaching of Audio Masterclass on compressors, EQ's, preamps is very valuable to me. Now I know how to deal with possible issues and also why devices sometimes react in such and such other ways. 4. Today, every time I handle an audio file, I have a thought for Audio Masterclass. I rely on what has been taught me both on a practical level and on the rigor, that must be exercised. I insist on this last point because do not deceive yourself, the correctors hear everything, even the smallest details and they do not let anything pass; Thanks to them!

Finally, if I have any advice to give to any student who wishes to make the best of the proposed teaching, it would be to act in 2 steps: a) For the theory, do not hesitate to read and reread the course several times, do the questionnaire, read the course again, repeat the questionnaire, etc. b) For practice, do not limit yourself to simply performing the proposed exercise. But once the corrector has evaluated the work, repeat the same exercise several times with other audio files, it is really the only way to master it. If I had a suggestion to say to at Audio Masterclass, it would be precisely not to be limited to one exercise per module but to give several before validating the level; I know that it is probably not possible to realize in practice ... This is my experience with Audio Masterclass.

You know what? Audio Masterclass has been a real game changer for me and if it was to redo, I would refer it without problem!

Georges Niacadié, France

Hi David [Gatis refers to David Mellor, Course Director of Audio Masterclass], I very happy that I signed-up for your course and that I've graduated it!

Actually, before I made my mind, I did a lot of research on web about your course, because at that time I just finished my studies at America Audio Insitute, but I felt like it's not enough for me to get on next level - as I wanted it so much. So I found Audio Masterclass. I found just one review on google, where somebody told that: "you won't get what you as an engineer really need etc, it lacks of deep dive in subject... this and that...." - I thought to myself: "well... maybe this guys is all wise or he is not opened for new experience and knowledge, or he was a bad student". So I decided to take a risk as I had no clue what is will look like.

The first thing that made most sense to me is practical assignment - that is "everything"! But in many other online-schools (like America Audio Insitute or Detroit Recording institute), it's the biggest defect of the program. If you can send your material for constructive feedback, it's the most valuable learning point!

Next thing: Every time I got feedback on task, at first I started learn it with your written feedback - that had greatest value to me. Another great thing is that by reading your feedback, you really get this feeling that somebody is listening to your work and paying attention to details.

About content: the structure of the course is very similar to many other courses but the difference in content is huge! And by this I also mean the language - how you explain things and details. This is very important to me as I'm not comming from english speaking country, but here it's easy to perceive the information. There are many great recording engineers out there, but not everyone has capability to teach others - but you can teach! (and I mean it, especially if I compare with my previous courses on America Audio Insitute Detroit Recording institute).

Other student audio examples: - very good in understanding what to do, and what to avoid! Sometimes if you have nothing to compare your work with, then you might think that "oh, yeah, great record!", but when you start to listen to others ...hmmm.... it become a challenge - it's like setting benchmark.

And yes, for me, as a small studio owner, has no huge budget or possibility to try out some top-end mics, the files with pre-amp and mic samples are awesome - now I have an idea how U87 sounds! : )

About improvements - actually I don't have anything to add to this, because from all this course I can feel that it's all made with professional attitude.

Overall - I've learned a lot, but most important to me is that by having many "aha" moments, I've developed completley different mindset when I start to think about recording, mixing and mastering - for me, it's the biggest achievement! ...and I want to learn more!

Ok, again, thanks for everything - I got the certificate - it's a very important milestone for me towards my GRAMMY! : )

P.S. I've already decided, to save some money and enroll to your professional courses within few month, so see you soon!

P.S.S. I've also attached my picture from my home studio.

All the best.

Gatis Pastars, Latvia

“I have to thank you and your team for helping me better understand the complex, and sometimes difficult to discover, secrets of audio engineering ! I'm very happy with my choice of enrolling in your captivating and well structured course !

Thank you and best wishes.”

Tudor Rogoz, Romania

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This course is for you if...

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If for any reason you do not find your Audio Masterclass course fully suitable for your needs, just send us a quick email and we will refund your purchase price in full, normally within one business day or faster. We ALWAYS honor this guarantee on the rare occasion it is requested. Our payment processors would refuse to work with us if we didn't.

About Course Designer David Mellor

Course Designer David Mellor

David Mellor is the founder and Course Director Audio Masterclass, currently residing in the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. He has worked in audio education since 1986 in hands-on training, lectures and online. David Mellor holds the degree of B.Mus (Tonmeister) from the University of Surrey where he studied music, piano performance, acoustics, electronics, electro-acoustics and recording.

Live Sound and Recording Engineer

David Mellor worked as theatre sound engineer at London's Royal Opera House, with responsibilities including sound design, front-of-house operation, stage monitoring and electronic design satisfying the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Karlheinz Stockhausen. David Mellor toured with the Royal Opera Company to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, USA; the Odeon of Herod Atticus, Athens, Greece; the Sejong Center, Seoul, South Korea; the Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan.

Musician and Composer

Since 1985 David Mellor has had more than 1000 works published in the field of production music, including the Chappell and Carlin music libraries (now combined into Universal Publishing Production Music). Notable uses of his music include the BBC's Horizon, Fahrenheit 911, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He is also a verified artist on Spotify and other music streaming services.

Writer and Educator

David Mellor has been actively involved in Audio Education since 1986, teaching students of City of Westminster College and Westminster University, and also returning to lecture at Surrey University. He also worked with John Cage on the International Dance Course at the University of Surrey. He has written for magazines including Sound on Sound, Audio Media, Studio Sound, Home & Studio Recording, Performing Musician, Sound & Video Contractor, Recording Engineer & Producer. He has also written four books on audio and video technology. David Mellor now specializes in online audio education and has been Course Director of Audio Masterclass since 2001.