Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pro Tools Quick Tip: Add Zero Latency "Look-Ahead" To (Almost) Any Compressor

A feature called "look-ahead" on some compressors allows you to trigger the compressor's gain reduction circuit a few milliseconds early, meaning that the compressor will already be applying gain reduction by the time the signal reaches it. This can help smooth the compressor's response by eliminating pumping, and it can also help to better control transients and sibilance. The down side is that, to accomplish this, the compressor must delay the audio signal, introducing latency. Here's a simple way to add look-ahead functionality to any compressor with a sidechain input, without adding latency.

Step One: Duplicate the track you want to compress.

Step Two: Assign the output of the duplicated track to an available bus, and set the sidechain input of the compressor on the original track to that same bus. We are now triggering the main track's compressor from the duplicate track's signal.

Step Three: Shift the audio on the duplicate track forward in the timeline by a few milliseconds so that the output of the duplicated track is triggering the original track's compressor slightly early. Shifting the duplicated track's audio forward or back in the timeline allows you to fine-tune the amount of look-ahead. You may need to lengthen the compressor's release slightly to compensate for the key input signal ending earlier than the compressed signal.

Note: This can also be used with gates and's a great way to make sure the gate won't cut off the beginnings of sounds by opening too slowly.

1 comment:

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