Compression it’s dangerous in the hands of amateurs. How do you tell when compression is overdone? That’s easy, just use your ears! Take rock for example, you want your rock music to sound dynamic, punchy, warm and exciting. The mix should make you want to get up, jump in the air, it should make you feel good when you listen to it. When a mix is over-compressed it loses its life and it makes you tired when you listen to it. The dynamics are no longer punchy and the song no longer musical. Over-compression creates a wishy washy, unintentional pumpy, horribly bad sound usually created by in-experienced engineers and people trying to master their own music (including engineers). Compression is a dangerous tool for those who don’t know how to use it.
Lets take recording for example, some engineers are reckless and compress during the tracking process. This is irreversible, so if the track(s) don’t fit in the mix later, well, maybe just add some more compression and that will fix it… Take it from the all star mixer Chris Lord-Alge, even he doesn’t think that it’s wise to record with compression even if you’re sure it sounds great. Its just not a good idea and it doesn’t make great records. You can however use a TDM compressor plugin for tracking with zero latency and save the analog compression for the mix where you can fine tune it. This is how you make a mix jump out of the speakers. When used correctly, compression is an amazing tool that helps give a mix a bigger than life sound. That superstar sound that everyone loves, the one that translates to people even through language barriers and cultural differences. How compression is used can be the difference between mediocrity and fame.