7 Steps To Perfect Compression

Brought to you by Songwriting Schematics.com

If you follow these 2 groups of 7 steps each, in the order presented, you will have perfect compression EVERY time, guaranteed. Using these steps will also teach you how to use compression to reach whatever kind of tone you are looking for with dynamics. There are two sets of steps involved. Steps 1 through 7 of Setup will place your settings at the initial levels needed to start hearing a difference in each setting as you progress through steps 1 through 7 of Programming.

Setup Steps

  • Step 1-Set your Attack at the slowest setting possible.
  • Step 2-Set your Release at the fastest setting possible.
  • Step 3-Set your Ratio at the highest setting possible.
  • Step 4-Set your Threshold to be sensitive, so that it is constantly activating whenever there is sound and leave it there.
  • Step 5-Set your Knee at the lowest possible level, (0 dB or the lowest contour) so the compressor activates exactly at the chosen threshold dB level, and leave it there.
  • Step 6-Set your Gain at 0dB and leave it there.
  • Step 7-Set your Mix at 100% and leave it there.

Programming Steps

Step 1-Slowly lower the Attack time until you reach the setting which gives you the effect you want, and leave it there.

The lower your Attack setting becomes, the faster your compressor acts on the signal; this will soften your transients of the initial attack. The higher your Attack setting becomes, the slower your compressor activates; this will allow more natural attack, and create a more aggressive sound.

Step 2-Slowly raise your Release setting until you reach the setting which gives you the effect you want, and leave it there.

The lower your Release setting becomes, the faster your compressor stops acting on the signal. The faster your Release setting becomes, the less musical it becomes. We should stop at the point right before the next note starts.

Let’s say the fastest note I would play in a song is a 1/16th note, this means that I personally want my compressor to release right before I play the next 1/16th note. By allowing the compressor to reset, my signal gets to go back to a natural ratio of 1:1, allowing my signal to still sound musical and natural.

If you set the release to be too slow, the compressor will be on constantly, and this will kill your dynamics. At extreme settings, your compressor starts creating a pumping effect; pumping is not desirable for most genres, with the exception of EDM.

Step 3-Lower your Ratio until you reach the setting which gives you the level of compression which you want, and leave it there.

The lower your Ratio setting becomes, the more natural your signal sounds, and the less your signal gets compressed. The higher your setting becomes, the more evenly your signal will decay

Step 4-Raise your threshold until it’s at the the highest possible setting which allows the compressor to activate whenever there is a signal present and leave it there.

The lower your threshold becomes, the lower level your signal needs to be to activate the compressor. The higher your threshold becomes, the higher your signal needs to be before the compressor is activated.

Step 5-Raise your knee until you reach the setting which allows the type of compressor activation range you want.

At a Knee value of 0 dB, you can think of the Threshold as being a single dB point. This means the change in level will be abrupt. For a signal below this range, the compressor does nothing. As you raise the dB level of the Knee, your Threshold becomes a range, rather than a single dB point. As you enter the Knee’s range, the compressor will become gradually more active, until it is fully “on” at the top end of the range. In general you can think of Knee ranges as being centered on the threshold, but some compressors may be weighted towards the high or low side.

Let’s say you set the Knee at 4:1, in this case:

  • Signals far below your chosen Threshold are uncompressed at a ratio of 1:1.
  • Signals below the Threshold are a little compressed at a ratio of 2.5:1.
  • Signals at or right around the Threshold are more compressed a ratio of 3:1
  • Signals far above the Threshold are fully compressed at a ratio of 4:1.

Step 6-Listen to the signals dB level through your monitors. Now bypass the compressor and listen again. If you followed the other steps correctly, your signal will be louder with the compressor off. Raise your gain to make up the difference and turn the compressor back on. Continue comparing the sound between your compressor’s on and off settings and adjust the gain until the level between the two is equal. Now leave it there.

Step 7-Adjust your mix to allow more or less of your natural signal through. At a setting of 100%, only your compressed signal will be heard. At a setting of 0%, only your natural signal will be heard. I personally like to set this so at least some natural signal is heard, for a more natural sound.

Author: Anthony Maloney
Used with author’s permission

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Line 6 Helix Tips And Tricks-Parallel Wah

This video shows five creative routings to allow running two to four wah pedals in parallel with Line 6 Helix. The five approaches are shown below and a download link is available for the templates.

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 5

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 5

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 4

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 4

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 3

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 3

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 2

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 2

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 1

Line 6 Helix parallel wah method 1

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Helix 2.00.0 update

  • New Amp Models
    • MESA/Boogie Mk IV-Cali IV Rhythm 1, Rhythm 2, Lead
    • Marshall JCM 800 hot-rodded-Line 6 2204 Mod
    • Line 6 Fatality
  • New Effects Models
    • Distortion > Wringer Fuzz-Garbage‚Äôs special BOSS FZ-2
    • EQ > Cali Q Graphic-MESA/Boogie 5-band EQ
    • Modulation > Harmonic Tremolo-Line 6 Original
    • Delay > Vintage Digital-Line 6 Original
  • New Factory Presets
    • FACTORY 1 (10 new presets)
      • 11A: Cali IV Rhythm 1
      • 11B: Cali IV Rhythm 2
      • 11C: Cali IV Lead
      • 11D: Line 6 Fatality
      • 12B: Line 6 2204 Mod
      • 20C: Another Stab
      • 30D: Bae B Metal
      • 31A: Surfing Alien
      • 31B: Shut Up
      • 31C: Sunshine Of Love
    • FACTORY 2 (43 new presets)
      • 01D: None More Black
      • 04C: Beat It
      • 09B: Everlong
      • 11C: Texas Flood
      • 15A: Low E Sludge
      • 17C: Rebel Yell
      • 23A: Barracuda
      • 23B: Blue Suede Shoes
      • 24A: Dream On
      • 24B: Go Your Own Way
      • 24C: Hair of The Dog
      • 25A: Just Like Heaven
      • 25B: Paranoid
      • 25C: Slow Ride
      • 25D: Smoke On The H2O
      • 26A: Say It Ain’t So
      • 26B: Plush
      • 26C: Wanna Be Sedated
      • 26D: Ziggy Stardust
      • 27A: 25 or 6 to 4
      • 27B: Sultans
      • 27C: Blue Wind
      • 27D: Travelin Riveside
      • 28A: Cliffs o Dover
      • 28B: Lookatthis Graph
      • 28C: Gimme 3 Steps
      • 28D: Goin’ Home
      • 29A: Hangar 18
      • 29B: Hellish Cowboys
      • 29C: Jail Break
      • 29D: La Grange
      • 30A: Lonely Heart1
      • 30B: Look a Py Py
      • 30C: Money For Nothin
      • 30D: Mr Sandman
      • 31A: Phase Dance
      • 31B: Kryptonite
      • 31C: Roundabout
      • 31D: Ship Of Fools
      • 32A: Can’t Lie
      • 32B: Ode 2 Yer Mom
      • 32C: The Syndrome 2.0
      • 32D: All American
  • Deleted Factory Presets (from 1.12.0)
    • FACTORY 1 (10 removed presets)
      • Black Hole
      • Boulevard
      • Brown Sugar
      • Cold Shot
      • Come As You Are
      • Evil
      • Fast Lane
      • Fortunate Son
      • Ha! U Said Djent
      • Hey Joe
    • FACTORY 2 (7 removed presets)
      • BAS:Baboo Thang
      • Carrot Cake
      • Melter Of Faces
      • Mr. Ferguson
      • Smelly Muffins
      • TBTV Rhythm
      • The Syndrome
  • Download deleted factory presets

Get these and many more guitar tones and presets for Line 6 Helix at my store.

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Premium Authentic Artist Tones launched for Line 6 Helix

I have launched my line of premium authentic artist tones for Line 6 Helix. In these premium patches I’m striving to provide the highest quality replication of your favorite artist tones as heard on your favorite songs. I have kicked off the series with two premium patches. Randy Rhoads guitar tone as heard on Ozzy Osbourne’s song Crazy Train and James Hetfield’s rhythm guitar tone as heard on the Metallica song Seek & Destroy on their first album Kill ‘Em All. You can find these and all future premium authentic artist tones on my new store site.

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Line 6 Helix Tips And Tricks-Solo Boost

This video shows five different ways to set up a solo boost with the Line 6 Helix. The first two Helix tips set up a boost before the modeled amp. This has the effect of boosting the input to the amp which can cause extra drive. This is often desirable. If you want a clean boost then the last three tips show how to do that. A clean boost is one that gives extra volume but does not affect the tone. An overview of the five boost method follows:

  1. FX block: Use something like a modeled distortion pedal in front of the amp. Program a switch to bump the level up as desired. This method simulates hitting the amps input extra hard.
  2. Gain block before the amp: Line 6 Helix includes a simple gain block which does nothing other than insert a clean volume control into the chain. Even though the Helix gain block provides no tonal alteration it will still hit the amp input extra hard when inserted early in the chain.
  3. Channel Volume: Each modeled amp includes a channel volume control. This is always a clean volume control like a fader on a mixer. Turning it up or down does not change the tone. One drawback to this method is you will have to change the assigned controller if you rebalance the volume across all your Helix patches
  4. Gain block after the amp: This one is very much like method #2 above. This time the gain block goes after the amp. This will create a clean boost that does not change the tonal character of the modeled amp in the Helix. You can put this near the end of the chain or right after the amp model. Put it after your delays and reverbs to have their level go up/down when the boost is switched on and off. Put it after the amp model but before any effects if you don’t want effects volume to change when the boost is engaged.
  5. Output level: Line 6 Helix includes a volume parameter on every output assignment. This parameter can be automated within the Helix by assigning it to a footswitch or expression pedal. Using this as a solo boost will give you a clean boost that does not alter your tone and will always affect the volume of delays and reverbs.

Background music is from my Malhavok album.

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Vesco’s Helix Patch Sorter 1.0.0

This small software sorts your Helix patches into directories named by what amp model(s) they’re using. A patch containing multiple amp models will have an underscore put in front of its name and copied to multiple directories.

Requires Java to be installed.


You can always find the latest release on github.

It is open source. Developer friends, I would love to talk to you and look at your pull requests!

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Line 6 Helix Tips And Tricks-Noise Gate Without A Block

Noise gates are essential in the modern home studio. All those computers, monitors, and other electronic gear can make a lot of noise through your guitar pickups. Line 6 Helix makes it easy to put a noise gate on your signal. The traditional Line 6 method is to use a noise gate effect or block near the beginning of your signal chain. This is still possible with Line 6 Helix but there’s a better way. Line 6 Helix has a noise gate built directly into the guitar input block. The performance of this gate is identical to the “Noise Gate” block you can add to the processing chain. Adding the gate to your guitar input saves a Helix processing block which gives you more room for other types of effects. I doubt there’s any Helix DSP savings doing it this way. The gate sound and performance is the same so the DSP cost is likely identical. What it saves is a DSP block you could use for something else.

In the video I show how to access this input gate and how to assign footswitches to turn your noise gates on/off.

Background music is from my Malhavok album.

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Mesa Boogie Triaxis patch and sysex editing

I have owned a Mesa Boogie TriAxis and Mesa Boogie Stereo Simul-Class 2:Ninety rig for years. I don’t use it much since I focus on the Line 6 stuff but everyone once in awhile I like to power it up and make some noise to justify still owning such a classy rig. I tried to resurrect my old Midiman Midisport 2×2 and get a MIDI sysex dump from the unit to use with an editor and bounce the sysex back to the unit for consumption. I was not able to get this entire flow working, but what I could get working is worth documenting here.

Midiman Midisport 2×2
This is a very old unit. It’s from before the company changed name to MAudio. I download a driver by searching this page where the most relevant OSX driver I could find was for the 2×2 Anniversary Edition and for Mac OS 10.10.1 (the driver was last updated in 2009!). After installing the driver and rebooting the 2×2 at least lit up the USB status LED.

SysEx Librarian
I download the free SysEx Librarian from Snoize. With the TriAxis wired up with MIDI cables to the 2×2 I was ready to attempt a data dump. I put Librarian into “Record One” mode and hit the TriAxis button combo (SHIFT+DOWN PRESET) to trigger a dump. The TriAxis manual states the operation should take only half a second after which the preset digits will blink. No blinking. I pushed it again and the program digits blinked (not the preset digits). Pressed again and the gain control flashed. Pressed once again and the preset digits finally flashed. However, Librarian showed zero successfully captured sysex messages.

The TriAxis is not behaving as the manual says it should. Librarian is not receiving sysex. I have no idea if the problem is with TriAxis, 2×2, or the Librarian software itself. I gave up on this approach.

Fully manual approach
All is not lost. Zip files of many presets can be downloaded from Tony McKenzie’s site. Unzip and you’ll have a collection of .TRI or .tri files. The next step is to convert these to .syx files. This is easily done with the linux `head` program.

head -c 2746 my_presets.tri > my_presets.syx

Once you have the .syx file of the presets you want to try you need a way to view the data contained within. Mark Philpot made available an easy to use online TriAxis editor. Drag’n drop your .syx file into your web browser at the indicated spot on that page. You’ll now be able to navigate to any of the presets to see the data values for that patch. It’s cumbersome to type the values in manually but at least it’s a way to get it done.

Reference links:

  • Mesa Boogie Stereo Simul-Class 2:Ninety – product, manual
  • Mesa Boogie TriAxis – product, manual
  • Mark Philpot blog entry with some of his thoughts on the matter and link to ievms if you are brave enough to try that approach to patch editing
  • The Boogie Board has a post with an alternate editor that is Windows only and may be of use to some.
  • zip file containing all the .tri files converted to .syx format. Download these ready to use files for Mark Philpot’s site!
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Stupid Deal Of The Day – Portable Recorder

The Stupid Deal Of The Day at Musician’s Friend is the Line 6 Backtrack portable digital recorder. These things are great for capturing quick ideas with a stripped down interface that lets you focus on inspiration rather than the tools to capture it.

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