PreSonus Blog

Friday Tip—The “Glue” Compressor FX Chain

If you’ve heard people talking about adding “glue” to a mix, this usually involves a bus compressor. But you can also “glue” tracks together in a subtle way by placing two standard compressors in series with high thresholds and low ratios. The result is dynamics control that’s so gentle, you won’t really hear that a compressor is working—but you will hear the benefits.

 

Start by inserting two Compressors in series. I also like adding the Level meter plug-in afterward so it’s easy to compare peak and RMS levels when enabling/bypassing the Glue Compressor. Set the controls that aren’t affected by the FX Chains as follows:

  • Compressor 1, Gain 0.00 dB
  • Compressor 2, Input Gain 0.00 dB
  • Turn off Auto Gain, Auto Release, and Adaptive Release
  • Turn on Look Ahead and Stereo Link

 

Program the FX Chain controls that affect both compressors as follows:

  • Ratio: 1:1 to 1.6:1
  • Attack: 0.10 to 10 ms
  • Knee: 0.10 to 20 dB
  • Mix: 0 to 100%
  • Release: full range (set to 200 ms default)

 

Program the remaining controls as follows:

  • Input: Compressor 1, full range
  • Threshold: Compressor 1 (-20 to 0), Compressor 2 (-6 to 0)
  • Gain: Compressor 2, 0 to 6 dB

 

As to choosing the optimum settings, this one is easy to get wrong. It’s designed for subtle effects, so keep the Input at 0.00 dB unless the incoming signal is very low or high. With an input signal that’s close to maximum, a threshold of -3.0 (as indicated by the Threshold control, because the threshold will differ for the two compressors) and a low ratio (like 1.3:1) are good starting points, with Mix set to 100%.

Adjust Attack (minimum attack clamps down harder on the signal), Knee, and Release based on the input signal characteristics and desired result. Use Gain to match peaks between the bypassed and enabled states. Bypassing and enabling is a good way to hear the difference the Glue Compressor contributes to the sound.

The Glue Compressor is not intended to work like a conventional compressor that flattens an input with a highly variable level, although you can always increase or lower the ratio or threshold for the best sound. Set the controls to give a mild, subtle lift that… well, “glues” the tracks together. You won’t hear a huge difference…and you shouldn’t. But you will hear an improvement that gives the mix a welcome “lift.”

Download the FX Chain preset here.

 

  • ManApeFish

    Custom panels would be a neat addition

  • Anderton

    FX Chains essentially let you make your own custom plug-ins. I do wish it was possible to have custom panel graphics, but that doesn’t impact their usefulness.

  • ManApeFish

    FX chain is so powerful really need to use it more