Setting up hardware compressor for electronic live set?

Hey there. In the near future my pal and i are planing to play a live set.
We have a pretty big setup with synthstrom deluge, digitakt, digitone, microfreak, minilogue xd and hydrasynth going into soundcraft 12mtk mixer. Outs of mixer go into FMR RNC and then to PA.
The question is, how should i set up the RNC (especially when it comes to attack and release)? Our set has a few dynamic ups and downs (sometimes kicks are louder in one track, snares a bit louder in another etc). I tried my best to balance all samples and synths out throughout the whole set but still it feels like there is a slight but noticable dynamic difference. And well, i’m kind of a newbie when it comes to compressors. I know how everything works and what it does, but didn’t listen enough to it to understand what is a nice “glue” for a track and where is the point of “too much”.
So the goals are:

  • make song transitions sound smoother
  • add some depth and glue things up
  • make things sound more touched up so the live set wont sound weak compared to mastered dj tracks (at least partialy)

I would love to hear your opinions on this topic.

…ooooo…especially given the fact that u wanna run a pretty big set up with lot’s of raw single sounds, u first have to make sure ur properly gainstaged, cleaned up in all the individual the low ends and get all this decently rehearsed…and then, well, then only ur ears can tell what’s most suitable settings are the right thing to nail the overall compression settings…

over the thump, i’d say, don’t go over 1 to 5 in ratio, keep attack and release pretty tight, look out for a soft knee, since ur summing it all up…and whatever ur ending up with, don’t be surprised to start from scratch once ur hitting that live venue cause that room and it’s soundsystem might translate totally different again…keep the passion, have patience and good luck and fun…

once there, also test what it sounds like, once the compressor is bypassed…might happen, that it sounds all better without it…


Well… dang it :sweat_smile: I really hoped there was a “you dont know what to do so do this” type of solution lol.
The problem is that most instruments are not fixed to a role in the set. For example sometimes bass comes from microfreak, sometimes from hydra or minilogue etc. So i don’t know what kind of universal eq i might apply)
Thanks for an informative answer btw
Considering compression i always believed that attack and release should be quite long so that one song which is louder would get overall compression around -4db for example and a quiter one like -2db or something. You think it should be faster?
btw genres are electro, idm, downtempo with a touch of techno every now and then)

Sound check is essential f you want to get the right sound. after a few gigs you will get a feeling for your levels and compressor settings and adjust on the fly. I made the experience that a live set often sounds way more punchy that mastered tracks and if the dj before you turns down the level a bit the people won’t even notice the volume drop. But it heavily depends on the dynamic range the PA is giving you. A comp with a side chain HPF at ca. 200hz works wonders on the master bus

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I would symplify the roles of the synth first, no mix up so the eq setting keeps the same overall.


You may also consider multiple compression stages.
I had a similar problem with a RNLA. There was just too much going on for ratios above 2:1, so I tried to add multiple compressors in series and it worked very well for busy and dynamic mixes.
I ended up selling the RNLA and got a BOUM which gets one part through compression and the second part through saturation.
Keeps peaks in check and glue everything nicely.

Does you mixer have compression per channel? That’s another way you tie things tougher.

It’s nothing new under the sun, classic mixing techniques.

A compressor + Limiter to catch just the peaks is also nice combo to tame a mix.

Second high pass everything you can, reduce resonances this also helps to have less ‘work load’ for the compression stage.

This can be done in preparation production and sample creation stage as well as slight compression on loops.

And don’t fixate to much to certain ratios, use your ears, let the mix breathe.


…changing sound missions is a problem…
running different synths, each for dedicated missions would be better…
but if ur more into downtempo, it’s getting easier again…

ur ratio guessing are correct if we’re talking about single instruments or busses…
but mainbus gluu and and prevent tightness is a different thing…
u wanna prevent the transients, but at the same time u want some overall same same safe picture…so attack should be no too fast, but u want a pretty tight release…
ratio could be all over the place…no chance to nail that upfront…u gotto hear for urself…

and if all synth change roles from track to track, get super comfortable with the eq’s of ur mixing deck, since u gonna need quick dress changes here…

rehearse, rehearse, rehearse…and get some fixed setlist defined early on upfront to nail down some set routine…


Thanks! Yeah i understand that it all comes with experience. I just don’t want to hit the dirt really hard on the first try :sweat_smile:

That’s understandable but current set is very song based so to speak. Some of them would sound totaly different if i fixed roles to synths. For example there is a song that uses great modulation capabilities and wavetables of hydrasynth on bass, which i can’t replicate on microfreak, but these same capabilities are needed in another track but as a pad this time) I guess i just started compiling this live set from the wrong end of the stick :upside_down_face:

Thanks. Yeah, i thought on BOUM, kinda pricey for me though)

I wish it had. I also wish it had LPF and HPF instead of simples high and low bells)

Set list is set. And rehearsed alot. Just the perfomance part, not eq mixing.
Thanks for help, i’ll do my best to figure all this out

…those simple 2 band eq’s of ur mixing desk might end up as an andvantage for quick live handling…
dare to drive them hard and use them as kind of filter instruments too…
those pre fixed bell curves are usually on well designed harmonic defaults and lead to great rough cut results…not good for analytic detail studio operations, but pretty fine for quick and dirty while still musical effective realtime results…

ssl decks are famous for their bell curves…


Sample the stem, playback via ot, mpc etc.

Thanks! I’ll give it a try :ok_hand:

you should try setting up your compressor with a sidechain EQ and cut the lows, the compressor will internally listen to the lowend less than the rest of the mix and then work the compressor accordingly.

it helps a lot when you’re doing mixbus compression, especially with electronic program material, and should help the compression stay more even from song to song

the compressor alone will not protect the PA system and act as a mixbus compressor at the same time though, so either have it set up as a glue bus or an end-of-stage limiter, it won’t be able to do both.

I would run the RNC as a mixbus compressor with the sidechain EQ, really nice mode on, with a medium attack (10-20ms is a good start), set the release as fast as you can to your fastest BPM track without getting too much pumping, and then shoot for like 1-3 dbs of gain reduction, no more than 4:1 ratio. try the auto attack and release settings if you have them I don’t remember if the RNC does or not.

Best way i’ve found to set compression is to overdo it first, find a sweetspot that sounds good there, then just back off the threshold and ratio until you’re only getting a couple DB’s of gain reduction

Then if at all possible run some kind of peakstop limiter after just to protect your PA from any accidental clipping, some compressors have this built in; unless the limiter option you have sounds good when in use I would set it just above where your loudest peaks are. the venue itself might also have a limiter already in place so you might not need to worry about it and just set your compressor for glue and call it a day

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This will usually be the case if it’s not a DIY party. Smart thing to have also for the dj sets…

On a different note: many useful advices here but if this is your first live gig you might wanna focus on creating good music on stage. That’s hard enough of a challenge. When you’ve got the hang of that you can start worrying about polishing up with dynamics processing etc.

If your worry is level matching with dj’s, maybe it’s not an issue at all. If you plug into a separate front of house mixer channel and there’s a sound technician doing their job they should take care of that. But if you plug into the same dj mixer that the dj’s use onstage you could have issues, though simply asking the dj before you to not slam it can prevent that.