Using audio compressors


Oct 9, 2015
I am a polite person who keeps the volume somewhat low on my stereo to avoid bothering others. The problem is that movies and video games seemed to be mixed with broad dynamic range so that when I turn the volume down to compensate for explosions and other such loud moments, I can't hear the lower-level sounds. So, I turn the volume up to hear those softer sounds and then there are sudden bursts of really loud stuff. I tend to attribute it to what I believe is a recent trend in mastering in which producers and directors mix with extreme levels in order to maximize emotional effects in the audience, but then, it could just the twenty-year-old receiver I'm using.

Either way, I've been thinking about buying a compressor to compensate for this. It seems to me that there are no compressors made for home audio, so I will end up getting a professional model. I am also considering getting an effects processor instead so that I can also get an EQ, but I wonder if the compressors in those devices are as good as dedicated compressor units. I have two questions about how to integrate it with my system.

First, how to wire it up. It seems to me the only way to do it is to use the Tape2 send/receive, which I believe will function like an insert. Is this correct?

Second, impedance. My Tape2 connectors are RCA and compressors have XLR and 1/4". Do I just buy RCA to 1/4" adaptors and set the compressor to line level? Will that match it to my receiver, or do I run the risk of burning up the receiver?

The type of compressor used for musical instrument or studio use might not work for your application. Not really designed for it. It is more of an effect than just reducing dynamic range. Make sure you can return anything you try. Get one with unbalanced connections and stereo of course.
Many surround sound receivers have a dynamic range reduction mode.
Better quality speakers would help. Many speakers don't sound clear at more modest volumes. Not good for music and a real problem on video as you notice. If you have to turn the volume up to understand dialogue and then turn the volume down on loud passages a clearer speaker would alleviate this problem.


An automatic gain control would work better than a compressor but they seem difficult to find so you will probably have to stick with a compressor but be warned that they can affect the listening quality and may produce quite a flat or even muffled sound.
Yes you can use the tape send and return and since line level equipment is a standard of impedances and voltages then you will have no problems simply connecting it in with simple adaptors.