New to AR MK2: Help to understand how the compressor works

Hi Elektronauts,

I just bought myself the AR mark 2 for Xmas! This is my first Elektron box ever and I’m super excited to learn it inside out! Really love the sound of this box, I’m just a little confused with the compressor’s odd behavior… Hopefully some of you wiz can help me figure things out in no time;)

  1. With the threshold set fully clockwise and the makeup gain set fully anti-clockwise, no gain reduction should be happening. Oddly enough, I can hear a pretty significant drop in volume with these settings… But it doesn’t make sense:) Unless, for some unknown and obscure reason there is a “negative make up gain” setting. If that’s the case, can someone help me to figure the correct MUP value for unity gain?

  2. With the behavior described above, the lack of a proper gain reduction meter with db readouts, and the odd make up gain values (why 0-127 instead of db?), I cannot figure out how to set this thing properly… Does anybody have any advice?

  3. The VOL setting a bit confusing. Isn’t MUP doing the same thing? Or is more like a final (post MUP) output “fader” ? I personally find the AR’s output to be a touch to quiet at the default VOL value… A bit of output gain fixes that, but it also brings out noise, especially when used in conjunction with the MUP. So, In a nutshell, how do you gain stage the AR properly? Any advice on that would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks and I wish you all a great and successful 2022!!!


Hello and welcome - and congrats on your AR MK2, I enjoy mine a lot and still learning it after over a year :sweat_smile:

There are already some threads that cover some of these topics in the board (e.g. Search results for 'Analog Rytm compressor' - Elektronauts), so it’s definitely worth reviewing some of those.

For 3) this might be a start: Rytm high noise floor defect ( compressor? )

For 2) this gathers some existing advice: Compressor settings? - #5 by PeterHanes


Yeah I’ve come to understand this as a kind of master out of the Rytm. What setting is it at?

Nothing too crazy really. The default setting is 64 right? So let’s say 74-80… Just to give a little more volume.

Hi Oskar,

Thank you for the reply. Yeah, I’m aware of some of the threads you mentioned. It’s a good read for the noise related issue, but I’m still trying to figure out why the compressor behavior is so odd… It makes everything sound quieter with no compression going :exploding_head:

me generally i crank that comp level up! also love the noise from the make up gain from the comp. but is that really ok?
still all this gainstaging stages make my brain stage-dive like a hallucinating not-so-rockstar
i would love to get some general guides for it, as how to stay clean , so i know when distortion starts to come into play, so i can then drive the sounds mindfully.

generally i find that pre-normalised samples start get driven around 70 sample level
but the synths can go up to 127, with no dist
then there is the overdrive and amp level
and then master dist
lastly the comp thresh, makeup and master level



just to say that also i’m not an experienced user of the AR yet. had it for less than half a year and only the past couple of months i really dived into it.
so my gainstaging method is first crank the comp level. keep the MUP at minimum, then i make my sounds and patterns, then i go and setup the distorton page, from 10 to 50 maybe depends, and then the comp. maye i go for NYcomp, or punch comp. depending on where i put the mix level i got and give from 20-50 MUP.
in general i keep my synth levels under 110 sample levels les than 70, and then use the amp page to mix and do velocities, sometimes i use velocity mod to mix too, but more that often i tend to turn it off and use it to modulate other params.
this works for now. but if anyone more experienced has a better method. would be glad to give it a try and see if it works for me. i just go by ear, never really got into daw analyzing frequencies and stuff.

Unity gain is around 22/23, it is in negative when below. Seems an odd value, 27 would make more sense….

First thing I do when I may a new kit is put it at 23.

would be nice if it was a bi-directional dial from -27 to 0 and 0 to 120 or something!


I found that post really helpful, too. However, I struggle with the Attack stage:

Now start tweaking the Attack control and listen to the attack of the transients on the kicks, snares, bassline, arpeggios or whatever. You should be able to find a nice spot where it really lets the transients thwap through whilst clamping down on everything else. Use your ears. Where does it sound best? Less snap and more smash = shorter Attack, more snap and less smash = longer attack. I can usually find a sweet spot very quickly. I usually err on the side of a little too short rather than a little too long. Don’t touch the Attack again, leave it, you are done there

With the ratio high and threshold low, I struggle to hear any transients at all for half the Attack dial, and then at the setting where I hear transients, the attack is so long, I’m hearing most of the sustain and release phases too.

Turning up make-up helps a little, but it shouldn’t.

Anyone else find this?

I really hope for a rewrite of the compressor. It’s unusable. /rant

The compressor is fully analog, so a rewrite would mean a new physical board (e.g. MK3).

The grey boxes in the diagram in the manual are analog:


the controls are 100% digital. The numbers and limits are the problem … I don’t know. The UI is unusable. Better? It needs to become intuitive. I don’t want to look up specific numbers every time I wanna use it.


I had a similar confusion when I got my Rytm. I posted about it here.

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Ah! Sorry, misunderstood you. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, better units, a gain indicator and other UI enhancements would be nice.!


Another reason why I feel like there’s an update coming. The DT compressor deals with it a bit better already.

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for which param are you talking about? the comp volume? the incoming signal = outgoing when vol is at 23? how did you test that?
so if i have it always cranked what does it mean then?

I think the previous post referred to the make-up gain (MUP) parameter.

Yes, make up gain or MUP