How to use the Ableton Glue Compressor Effect

Ableton’s Glue Compressor is based on the SSL buss compressor, a common feature in most SSL mixing consoles. The bus compressor is best suited to affect multiple audio sources (buses) and glue them together by controlling their dynamics (the loudest and quietest parts of the audio signal) and making the tracks sound more cohesive. The glue compressor is Ableton’s emulation of this compressor, with the majority of parameter controls being very similar. There are a few differences just as most of the bus compressor emulations.

bus compressor

You will find yourself using this compressor to glue grouped tracks, on your mix bus or master bus. Let me demonstrate how you can use this compressor:

Finding and Loading Ableton’s Glue Compressor

The glue compressor is an audio effect and can be found with all of Ableton’s other audio effects.

Step 1: Navigate to the Glue Compressor in the dynamics folder, located in the audio effects folder in Ableton’s browser

glue compressor ableton audio effects folder

Step 2: Open the compressor by selecting your track (MIDI/Audio) and double-click on the compressor, or drag and drop it into your track

glue compressor open ableton

Step 3: now mix

Parameter Controls

There are a few parameters that are similar to Ableton’s primary compressor. The Glue compressor is a little bit different from the available parameter controls. Let us break them down:

Left Panel

In this panel, you will see the classic analogue parameter control designs. These controls are of a fixed value as opposed to most Ableton effects which are variable. Variable controls allow you to control the values of these parameters down to the decimal. Here are the parameters and what they do:

left panel of the glue compressor in ableton

Attack: this parameter controls how fast your compressor activates when an audio signal is input. If you have a fast attack, the compressor will compress your transients, and if you have this effect on your drum bus, you will find that your impacts are dullened. The fixed values are in milliseconds.

gain reduction fast attack

Release: this parameter affects how fast or slow this audio effect stops compressing your audio signal. If you have a longer than necessary release, you will notice that if you have low-level noise, the compressor will bring this up.

fast release slow release audio compression

Ratio: This controls how hard your compressor affects the audio signal. The ratio in Ableton’s glue compressor has only 3 control options. 2:1, 4:1 and 10:1. This ratio means that, for every 4 dB of audio coming in, there will be a 1 dB of audio outputted.

ratio audio signal threshold

Middle Panel

In this panel, you will find the compressors visualizer. You will be able to see the gain reduction in action to help you see what your compressor is doing and how fast it is acting. You will also find fin threshold and makeup gain controls. This is what these parameters do:

glue compressor ableton middle panel

Threshold: this parameter is measured in dB (decibels) and depending on the level you set the threshold parameter, any signal that goes beyond this threshold will be compressed

Makeup: this parameter will allow you to increase the volume of your signal output to compensate for the volume loss you gave after compression.

Right Panel

This panel contains global parameter controls. This is what they do:

glue compressor ableton right panel

Clip: this parameter has an LED that glows orange when you have clipping in your audio output. If you activate the ‘soft’ function, the glue compressor will add low-level distortion to soften the clipping distortion. If you are downsampling on export, this function acts as a dither—more about Dithering in Ableton here.

Range: This parameter controls the overall range of the threshold, ratio and knee. No matter how hard you push your threshold, depending on your range setting, this effect will not affect your signal.

Dry/Wet: This parameter controls the bled of the signal before and after compression. This tool is useful for parallel compression.

Note! You will not find knee controls in this audio effect as you would find in Ableton’s primary compressor. The knee generally affects the immediacy of your compressor’s function as the audio signal approaches the threshold.

soft knee hard knee compression

Advanced Parameters

If you open the advanced parameters sub-menu, you will see the sidechain controls. Sidechaining is using the audio from a track or a group to control the playback of the track this compressor is loaded into. In a later article, I shall provide you with more on sidechaining, so stay tuned.

advanced parameters glue compressor ableton

Final Thoughts

The glue compressor is an invaluable mixing tool in Ableton. It helps you glue together audio playback from multiple tracks. This control helps make your productions sound more put together and balanced. I recommend that you use this compressor on your grouped tracks and mix/master tracks. Have fun!