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

@Ibiza keep in mind that you can also use the individual outs (which are actually paired) at the same time as using the stereo L/R out. So if you’re using a mixer you can fiddle around with those individual out levels (in the external mixer) to further build up a voice if the compressor isn’t in the Goldilocks zone.

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Hi Elektronauts,

Thank you all for the replies🙏🏻 Sooooo, as far as I can tell this compressor is a bit of headache, uh? Well here is my takeaway:

  • For some reason Elektron removed the gain reduction meter from AR Mark II’s screen. The real question is WHY. Did they provided a good technical reason for this very odd decision? Will they ever “stick it back in” or is completely out of the question? I feel at the very least they could add proper metering(with actual DBs values) into OB.

  • Make up unity gain is around 9 o’clock. Duh, why didn’t I think of that sooner😂

  • Threshold control is basically useless if the signal is “going in too hot”. Compression is happening (by a significant amount) even with the threshold set fully clockwise. That explains why I could hear a shocking -10dB volume drop with the threshold at minimum… This one is a first. I’d really like to know the reason behind this (again odd) design choice and how to gain stage the mixbus properly so it doesn’t trigger the overly sensitive threshold.

  • Finally, I dig the aggressive character of the compressor but I have to agree with some of the earlier comments. It absolutely smashes the transients with the mix set at 100%(yeah even with the slowest attack settings). I find a parallel 40~60% mix to be the limit if you want to preserve the punch of the drums.

Please let me know your thoughts on my findings. Hopefully we’ll be able to figure out this beast together🤘🏻

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That’s a really good point Skurdd. When was the last major rytm OS? Over a year ago? I think are busy cooking something big…

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Really hope so! I find it hard to use the compressor on most tracks. It’s difficult to dial in subtle compression.

One trick I do often use is parameter lock the compressor volume to the fx track with trigless trigs and some parameter sliding to create fake sidechaining…

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That’s an excellent idea Maxek. A simple :infinity: mark at unity (along with the gain reduction meter back) will go along way to make this compressor much more useful! I hope the developers at looking at this forums every now and then;)

I don’t think the AR compressor is any more or less difficult than any other compressor. It’s just different. They all have quirks and take time to learn… Compression is hard enough to master in itself regardless of which model you’re using.

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Digitakt’s compressor is intuitive … I didn’t need the manual or the forum to dial in values that work. It just worked.


I’ll have to give that one a go some day.

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Would be nice if we just get that UI for all other boxes as well … with the Sidechain function – would be awesome for A4 + DN

I’m also not a fan of the AR comp.

My favourite Elektron compressor is in the OT, it’s so versatile and musical (for the lack of a better word) and I found it perfect for processing drums from AR. I pretty much always use it on my AR.

At first glance, the AR compressor reminded me off the SSL bus compressor. It has a similar set of controls and similar attack and release times, but dialing in settings for drums on an SSL bus comp clone or plugin emulation usually takes little effort - 10 or 30 ms attack to let the transients through, short release, set HP filter to 60 hz and pull treshold down until around 5 db gainreduction are read - pretty much always improve the drum sound, adding a little punch and providing glue - on the AR comp I had a hard time dialing in settings that improved the sound significantly.
You also have to be carful with added gain and distortion and watch the headroom.

I’m also not a fan of the attack and release times that are present on the AR comp (*edit: or rather how they behave), I almost always found myself wishing for intermediate values.

I found it could work very well on individual elements, though. For example I could shape kicks very well…

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The AR has exactly those attack times you use on the SSL. It has an HPF. Admittedly, the threshold control doesn’t have a db scale, but NONE of the other level controls in the AR do either, and there’s no meters, so it wouldn’t help to have it just on the compressor.

I think @Ibiza nailed it all with this comment:

Turn everything down before it goes into the mix bus. This will feed the compressor a more detailed, dynamic signal, giving it more peaks to work with. I think we all generally have a habit of turning the gain up too high, too early in the chain. I know I do anway, and I’m having to train myself to start lower.


Yeah, it’s more about how the AR comp reacts than the actual attack and release times. Two compressors with identical settings can behave totally different, it’s the circuit behind the knobs that shapes the signal.
I know I said, I didn’t like the attack and release times present, but that’s what I actually wanted to say. Sry, need more coffee… :slight_smile: Gonna edit that in my post above.

I’ll try later with lower levels. The way I have my AR levelled, I have a pretty good range and control with the treshold parameter, but I’ll give it a try later.


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This is def true.

Cool. I need to experiment more with this aspect of the AR too. “turning it down” is just my current default strategy. it’s distinct from my previous strategy, which was “don’t touch it 'til you need it”.

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Something I discovered recently: when you take a track out of the main out routing but leave it routed to fx (eg a kick on a separate out), it still goed into the compressor sidechain, but not into its audio path. Maybe not big news for many AR users, but still made me happy…

Edit: sorry, posted too quickly… this actually not the case…

Really? Are you sure it’s this, and not that the FX are going into the compressor? If you set both Delay and Reverb returns to be post compressor, does the full mix still feed the sidechain?

are u sure?

… my mistake… just checked with continuous white noise in the audio path… no clear pumping/ducking without kick routed to main outs… sorry…

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Thanks for confirming!

Ho I didn’t know the compressor was analog! That being said, I don’t understand why they (Elektron) removed the Gain Reduction visual representation on MK2. It was implemented on the MK1 and is so useful!!