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MainStage Mondays: How To Use Compressors

MainStage Mondays: How To Use Compressors

This week’s quick MainStage tutorial is about compressors. Compressors are plugins that manipulate the dynamics of the sound source, creating everything from a “squeezed” punchy sound to subtle level control. MainStage just updated their main compressor plugin, and I’m a big fan. Here’s how to use it: 


1. Open MainStage. Select a template.

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2. Click on the first channel strip in your patch, then select Dynamics>Compressor>stereo. 

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Here’s what the plugin looks like: 



Here’s what the bottom parameters do:


Input Gain: This controls how loud your original sound comes into the compressor.


Threshold: This controls where the compressor starts to “compress” the sound.


Ratio: This controls how drastically you compress the signal. 


Make Up: This boosts or reduces the level of the signal coming out of the compressor. 


Auto Gain: This allows the plugin to automatically adjust the volume of the compressor so it stays at the right level.


Knee: This controls the shape of your sound. 


Attack: This controls how fast your compressor starts compressing.


Release:  This controls how long it takes for your compressor to stop compressing.



The side parameters on the plugin control a limiter (more on that later) Here’s what the side parameters do:

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Threshold:  Same as above. 


Distortion: This controls how much distortion (if any) is introduced into the signal when you limit it. 


Mix: This controls how much of the original sound you let through. 


Output Gain:  This controls how loud your sound comes out of the compressor.


(Note: MainStage offers seven different compressor models to choose from, but all of the models use essential the same features.)

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