The fast and easy way to understand compression and reaComp accessibility
lets say you have made a few recordings ehre and there, and you are satisfied with the results. however, the voice or instrument you recorded is not quite OK because at some points, you find it being overpowered and at other times you can find it is just too quiet and you have to strain to hear it. So you might either divide the track into items, adjust their volume, or you might be a super fancy kind of person who gets her super brain powers and a controller and does a very awful lot of dedicated automations on the volume for the track.... and then, one day, the entire mix changes and you have to do them all over again. Boy! Turns out that you can have someone inside your computer do that on command, automagically, being respectful of the volume changes so they are just right, and you can compare the results immediately instead of pressing undo, redo, undo, undo, redo. ETC.
enter the world of compression and reaComp
Rather than explaining the entire effect controls and window, we can do an explanation from a "lets use things thing!" perspective. So, get to work.
1. Find a quiet section or a section that sounds good to you and find out by using your peak watcher, (by default j and k) keys an estimated average of how loud it is. 2. In your compressor, set your threshold value to about 3 db less of that average, and set the ratio to 4.2 or similar. Setting the ratio in this way means that the compressor will allow 2 db to pass if the sound exceeds 4 db over what you have set in the threshold. (Read this again if you need to) 3. Finally, you can see how many db's the compressor is pulling back next to the rms size box. NVDA will read them, first the left and then the right channel. So you might want to select a part and play it as a loop over and over. 4. If you find that compression is pulling the voice too far back or that the volume is abruptly changing, you can increment the knee parameter, or the attack, or also play with the preComp setting to get a more subtle compression. So experiment with all of those values and settings to find something that is good for you. You can also increase the wet output to try and bring things back up to the volume they were, of course all of this, with care.
the box labelled ms, is the one that tells you how hard the compressor is working. You should Leave the rms size alone, and instead try increasing the threshold more towards the negative values, and also increase the ratio. You should hear differences in the sound if you are compressing things too hard because a compressor indeed makes the dynamic range smaller and "compresses" the volume of whatever you are putting it on. which is the idea, because then you would want to slowly adjust the values to get a more decent sound. You should bypass the effect at will (either using the checkbox in that dialog or the B key on a track) and compare results too.