Hi, I need some help with setting up a "starting point" on the compressor / limiter on the Zaxcom Arria audio mixer. My choices are 0 gain, 0 threshold, 300Ms release, 30Ms attack, and 1.0:1 ratio. What I'm looking for is a nice sound that will just help even out the peaks, when the talent gets excited.
I'm guessing, something like a 2:1 ratio and I'm not sure about anything else.
Well, your tag line of "limited ears" doesn't exactly inspire confidence. I'm not trying to be insulting, it's just that if you don't have confidence in your ear then it's pretty hard to mix or compress for any sort of paying project. When do you know its right? Listen to reference monitors or reference headphones and listen very carefully.
But that aside, you might be using a ratio of 1.5-3:1 (start with 2.5), attack of 0-100ms (some prefer a slower attack, but this is what I like), release of 500-1500ms (some prefer faster...), which leaves gain and threshold. Gain is (usually) output gain. If you need more gain into your recording device then turn it up. But 0 is a great place to start.
Threshold is a little harder - turn it down until you can see/hear the compressor start to work. "See" meaning you have a gain reduction meter on your compressor, right? Turn down threshold until you start to see your peaks reduced by up to 3db and see how you like that sound. Too much? Try either turning up threshold or turning down ratio.
This whole approach might be called "taking a little off the top", controlling your program peaks so you can increase the average loudness. Good for the spoken word. There's another approach of "limiting dynamic range" used more often in music, where ratio is modest, threshold comes down, and release is long.