How to use Chris’s Dynamic Compressor for great volume in Audacity

We're talking Audacity this time! Adobe Audition has its fantastic multiband compressor, but did you know you can get fantastic audio compression from a free plugin to Audacity? Listen to the episode to learn move!

What are compressors, limiters, and gates?

A compressor fits your audio within a selected volume range by increasing the volume of quiet sections. A limiter does the opposition by decreasing the volume of loud sections. A noise gate will close (like a real gate) when it receives audio quieter than its “floor,” and opens again when it receives audio louder than its “floor.”

You can accomplish these audio enhancement effects by hardware such as a No products found., or by software, which is where we will focus.

Too simple and too complex

Levelator is a popular and free, standalone compressor/limiter/gate. Simply drag your .wav or .aiff audio onto the program, and it processes the audio into a new file (appended with “.output”). This works great for some people, but I don't like the results, which I can't customize because Levelator has no options.

On the other side, you can get some complex multiband compressors for Audacity. I highly recommend that you use the latest Audacity version if you use any of these plugins.

A compressor that is just right for Audacity

I introduce you to Chris's Dynamic Compressor. It has simple controls and produces great results. Although it's free, please support his excellent work!

In the audio, I explain how to set Chris's Dynamic Compressor just right, and demonstrate the audible differences. Here are some screenshots of the different results.

Your results may vary. Remember that Audacity will only maintain your compressor settings while Audacity is still running. If you restart it, the compressor settings revert to their defaults and you can't save them.

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Podcast Panda
13 years ago

Brilliant episode this week! Glad we're getting down to some nuts and bolts of the process. This one'll definitely be a repeat listen.

You're pacing with this series is agonizing because the information is really relevant to what I'm working on…and you're giving it away, for free. Please, sir. May I have some more?

@DaveJackson
13 years ago

Just an FYI when I click on your links, I lose your website (you may want to have the links open in a new window). Great episode. I had some issues with Audition, and was ready to look for a CST plugin for my Sony Acid. (audition decided to work today).

AKA Byronious
AKA Byronious
11 years ago
Reply to  @DaveJackson

X 100

DPeach
13 years ago

Thanks for finally getting to Audacity. I had to be away on a trip for 2 weeks, so am a bit behind on all my podcasts. I was very pleased to hear that we have some Audacity content.

Who podcasts with Linux? What kind of question is that? I do! I am sure there are others. I have been a Linux only* podcast since the inception of my show, Missionary Talks, in October of 2006. I do most of my recording into a portable recorder and do all the work in Audacity on Linux.

*There are a few episodes that I ran the audio through Levelator on my wife's Mac before it was available on Linux. I rarely use Levelator anymore, and probably never will again after this episode, but I run it on Linux now when necessary.

@coffeegulper
13 years ago

Ok, I played around with this and it works well at raising low volume parts and lower high volume parts but when I am not talking it raising the ambient noise. Would I need to lower the floor or do I need a limiter for Audacity?

CJsKidsClub
12 years ago

Awesome! I'd already been using Audacity (on Linux and Windows). To minimize sound, I've been tweaking my environment to the umf degree and sometimes re-recording certain portions to "erase" unexpected sound.

If you've heard any of our podcasts though, you can hear the transitions and sometimes total failures. At some point, my son and I get frustrated and so I wind up posting them as-is. Chris’s Dynamic Compressor is making podcasting fun again! =)

Curbuntu
Curbuntu
12 years ago

Daniel,

I've had some of your earlier episode re-queued for re-listening, including this one (since I knew I had to go back into Audacity to add the compressor plug-in when I was at the keyboard). You might want to note, for Linux users, that putting the compress-b1.ny file in the proper directory is a matter of permissions, using the sudo (SUperuser DO) command:

1) In my case, I moved to the directory in which I downloaded the .ny file:

cd Downloads/

2) Then use the cp (copy) command with sudo:

sudo cp compress-b1.ny /usr/share/audacity/plug-ins/

At least, that's where my version of Ubuntu Linux stores the Audacity plug-ins. "Your mileage may vary."

Also, a word of thanks for two things;

a) Great screenshots in Ep. 5 shownotes — they let us see what we heard in the podcast.

b) Thanks for pointing us to Grammar Girl, now a must-listen podcast for me.

Regards,

Curbuntu

JD@RadioCSS
12 years ago

Hi Daniel,

Do you still standby these settings that you recommended for Chris's Dynamic Compressor? Or have you experimented more and discovered more optimal settings? Thanks!

-JD

JD@RadioCSS
12 years ago

Ok. Thanks for replying. Looking forward to more Audacity content. Keep up the great work.

-JD

kiatlc
12 years ago

Hi Daniel, I face with one problem after using this plugin and your recommended settings. The noise gate will make the interval between talking silence, but quite obvious background noise when speaking, which is unheard before compression. The compression makes the unwanted background noise louder. I have applied noise removal before compression already, please help! It is a nightmare.

Thanks

Alan in Belfast
12 years ago

You used to have a page which included an screenshot of your preferred settings for Chris' Dynamic Compressor plugin on Audacity … but I can't find it now. (Sad to hear of Chris' death.)

DAVe
11 years ago

I still keep coming back to this lesson.

Jonathan Slater
11 years ago

Dear Daniel,

Hey wonderful podcast you have going on. I'm a P.C. guy myself and was so scared to hear from friends that setting up a podcast on a p.c. may have it's troubles since most everyone has a mac. Well I heard about your podcast from a friend named Adam Saverian, whom has started his own podcast. I'm somewhat familiar with Audacity since I use it for submitting some of my Amateur Voice Acting Skills to Audio-book publishers who are seeking new talent all the time. So once I got to your page here and saw that it's a podcast about "How to podcast" & "How to use Audacity" it really just struck a chord with me. It's absolutely perfect!

I have a few questions for you and maybe you answered these in later episodes that I haven't gotten to, I've only listened to the first 5 episodes of this fine podcast.

1) Why are USB Microphones preferred in Podcasting? Why not the simple plug and play type? (I have a microphone that plugs into the Microphone connection of my p.c., it's not a usb type.)

2) I don't have a clue as to how I can set-up a webpage or site to upload my audio-file mp3's and have people subscribe to me via an RSS Feed. I tried to read over this with the "Complete Idiots Guide to Podcasting" and it's really confusing. I looked at wordpress but it had me download some pack – and when I looked at the pack I had no clue what I was actually looking at. Have any advice on where to host a podcast, even for those who don't know how to set up an RSS feed?

-Thanks a ton for everything you do here on the podcast Daniel. You got yourself another long term listener right here.

-Jonathan Slater.
Seattle, Washington

FlyingDan
FlyingDan
11 years ago

Just started listening and you have a GREAT show, lot’s of very helpful tips for those of us at the beginning.

One question I wanted to ask: do you run the FINAL copy through the compressor (the one which has your title music already in it) or do you just do the actual “meat” of the show and add the “potatoes” after?

Keep up the great work,
FlyingDan

FlyingDan
FlyingDan
11 years ago

Thanks for the tips!

I am using a Zoom H2 at the moment to do my recording. My co-host and I go through a mixer (he’s mix-minused because he’s on Skype) and out to the H2. 
We usually don’t play music during the podcast, even our theme music is added in post. We do play field interviews that we’ve recorded previously so that we can refresh ourselves of what was said and discuss them afterwards and in post we import the original interview file.

Glen
Glen
11 years ago

Hi!  I just started listening to your show last night (I only just found it!) and I’m up to episode 6 already.  Needless to say, I’m really enjoying this and learning a lot.

I do have a question.  I have done what you instruct on the download page for Chris’ Dynamic Compressor but nothing is showing in my Effects tab for Compress Dynamics.  I have an Alienware Computer that is about 3 or 4 years old and it runs Windows 7.  Are these things compatible?

Thanks!
Glen

trackback

[…] unless you write a great title.Write a title that sparks curiosity or sounds interesting. “My Secret Audacity Recipe for Great Audio” was a terrible title. Now, I refer to it as, “How to use Chris’s Dynamic […]

trackback

[…] Windows.Death of Chris Capel, creator of Chris’s Dynamic CompressorIn several past episodes (episode 5, episode 11, and episode 22), I have highly praised Chris’s Dynamic Compressor as the best […]

Charlie Knower
11 years ago

Daniel,
Just found your podcast recently and really enjoy it. Thanks. I also downloaded Chris’s Compressor and love using it. However, it seems I have to install it in my plugins folder everyday otherwise it won’t show up. Using mac with latest Audacity version. Any ideas?
thanks,
Charlie Knower

Jason
Jason
11 years ago

Hi Daniel,

I just deicided to use the compressor on some audio i recorded in mono format from a RODE PODCASTER microphone. When i use the settings you recommend it just seems to really amp the sounds instead of reducing the in between breathing or air conditioners etc. Any tips? thanks

J. Christopher Guritz
11 years ago

Daniel, I cant tell you how many times I keep coming back to this page for a refresher! Thanks for your evergreen content!!!!!

Phil Naessens
Phil Naessens
11 years ago

Great show Daniel! Even though I use Adobe I’m going to give this a try!
http://www.philnaessens.com

Geoffrey Allan Plauché

Hi Daniel, is this plugin compatible only with Audacity? Or, like many others, compatible with a variety of programs? I’m editing audio with Reaper.

Đặng Mạnh Cường

Hi Daniel

I’m Cuong from Vietnam

I like your settings so much, but when I apply compression, one or more words at the end of my file louder. Could you give me a suggestion to solve?
Thanks in advance
Cuong Dang.

trackback

[…] Download and install Chris’s Dynamic Compressor (optional, but recommended). […]

Lamar Myart
10 years ago

one word about your podcast and information “AWESOME”

Lamar Myart
10 years ago

I am practicing with audacity, I notice that you can hear each time I take a breath any suggestions to stop that, besides not breathing?

Tom
Tom
7 years ago
Reply to  Lamar Myart

BREATHE! It sounds damn weird when people don’t breathe. Podcasters and narrators need to stop worrying about this. Subconsciously, your listener will get anxious if they don’t hear you breath. You are not doing a commercial (listen closely to TV and radio commercials — that is where you never hear breaths). But in a podcast you should sound human. That means breathing.

@hugonz
@hugonz
10 years ago

I’m one of those using Linux. All 34 episodes of the libertarios.info podcast have been recorded with audacity, and then some. Broadcasting live also using IDJC and Butt. Thanks for the great tips, I’ve learned so much about postprocessing! http://www.libertarios.info/podcast

Chloe Golden
Chloe Golden
9 years ago

Hi 🙂 I am getting that shoo sound at the beginning and end of sentences using Chris’s compressor. What levels do I need to change to try to reduce that?

Sarah Price Hancock
Sarah Price Hancock
4 years ago

What does “raising the floor” mean?

Sarah Price Hancock
Sarah Price Hancock
4 years ago

Thank you. I sincerely appreciate your detailed explanation. I use the compressor (which I LOVE) but this last episode I attempted to record two hosts on a single microphone. There were parts that I still had to go back and amplify. Guess I’ll hold of having a guest or co host until I get another microphone. ?

Brian Caruthers
9 years ago

Any advice on how to transfer these settings over to Audition?

trackback

[…] audio needed. After installing the plugin, I tweaked the settings to match the best settings from this page, ran the plugin, and all was good. Now to add some […]

GGNYC
GGNYC
9 years ago

I just want to say thank you for helping me revive my mp3 collection. The sound is superb!

Robert W. Cotterman
Robert W. Cotterman
8 years ago

Thanks to you Daniel, i have found this great piece of software. However I am launching an internet radio station with music, Would the settings be any different for songs?

@IUNewsTalk
7 years ago

Just found this and it has been a lifesaver to our podcast. Thanks Daniel and of Course Chris -RIH – for creating it.

BobStromberg
BobStromberg
7 years ago

Hi, I’ve been trying out Chris’s Compress Dynamics 1.2.6 (the latest, I believe) on Audacity 2.1.2 (also the latest) on Windows 8.1.

While the Preview button plays back an altered sound that I like with the settings I have chosen to experiment with (for completeness: Compress ratio 0.950, Compression hardness 0.500, Floor -24.00, Noise gate falloff 2.00, and Maximum amplitude 0.800). Note that I think I want these settings, BUT… when I click OK and the Compress effect is applied to the entire track, playback is indeed different than before but the quiet audio is much quieter than the Preview provides.

In other words, Preview plays a change that OK does not.

Is there something I am doing wrong? Does anybody else have this problem?

Thanks!

Becky Deaver
Becky Deaver
6 years ago

THANK YOU! for your podcast, for your great show notes. I’ve been podcasting for a year, but want to take my podcast to the next level. This stuff is gold!

Alvin Abejero
Alvin Abejero
5 years ago

I wanna know how to make my songs louder?The songs I recorded through audacity.Because once I transferred it in my cellphone it doesn’t sound louder anymore the way it sounded in my laptop..Even in other cellphone.

Ron Chavis
Ron Chavis
5 years ago

If I were you I’d edit out loud breaths completely, or at least lower the volume at each spot where they are popping up.
Look at it this way….how many “breaths” do you hear on national agency
spots?

And I respectfully/partially disagree with DJL…at least when it comes to working a mic with my own
voice. Some reads sound best when working the mic closely…particularly
when trying to convey intimacy.

Richard LT
Richard LT
4 years ago

omg you’re a lifesaver i was using both Levelator and Chris’s tool dum dum!!! thx

Steve
Steve
4 years ago

Hi there,
Has there been any update to this program at all?

John
John
4 years ago

I can’t get Chris’s Dynamic Compression to show up in Audacity 2.3.2 for Mac. I upgraded Audacity to get 64 bit compatibility. Does this plug-in no longer work?

renanda tribowo
3 years ago

Is the method of using Audacity the same as elsewhere?

A
A
2 years ago

Any idea why the plugin fails in Audacity 3.0? Every time I try and run it, and it doesn’t give an error. Just stops halfway through.

John Baughman
John Baughman
2 years ago
Reply to  A

I can’t help you either. I tried for several hours to get Audacity to recognize and use the plugin without success. I think it is incompatible with the newest versions of Audacity. I base this solely upon my own experience.

Tim
Tim
7 months ago

This looks to be great. I will be trying it next and report back.

Shawn
5 months ago

Very helpful! Found this through a rabbit hole of solving low end noise problems. Thanks!

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