What kind of effect does multiple layers of compression and EQ achieve that a single layer can't? Is there theory behind this practice or is it just something you have found sounds nice?

Ott responded on 03/28/2013

If I have a dynamically lively sound which I want to get under control, I'll use a compressor.

Trouble is, compressors tend to exhibit audible side-effects when they're working hard and although these can be really pleasing to the ear, sometimes you want to compress something but not have it sound too coloured. Also, different aspects of the sound require different settings to fit them.

So, I might achieve my 20dB or so of gain reduction by compressing in stages, with each stage set up to fit a different part of the sound and only generating around 2-4dB of gain reduction. Each stage is cumulative but avoids excessive colouration.

Suppose you're spray painting a car [which is still the only thing I'm formally qualified to do]: You don't just hose the whole pot of paint on in one thick coat. Instead, you build it up in fine layers, maybe sanding and polishing between each coat. This gives a much better finish.

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