In many movies, tv shows, and trailers I've heard a type of compression that not only flattens the dynamics but also changes the timbre of the voice.

Here is an example:

In the last sentence of that trailer Thor saying "Who the hell are you guys?". The same result is noticeable in other parts of the trailer too.

Is this achieved with extreme multiband compression?

Here is another example although much more subtle. It's more noticeable in the "...negative so that I could se a positive" around 1:49.

It's more noticeable when the actor playing Will Graham speaks louder so I'm assuming it's some form of compression, although again the way the timbre of the voice is changed is not the typical gain compression.

  • 1
    Be aware EQ may have more of an impact than compression here...
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 19:33
  • @RoryAlsop I doubt it's a matter of EQing but do you have an example on how to achieve that result?
    – Pier
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 20:48
  • 1
    There is definitely EQ in there (I didn't say there weren't other things, including compression) but for that effect, EQ-ing to bring the baritone notes out is essential
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 22:48
  • Compression does affect timbre - theproaudiofiles.com/compression-and-timbre Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:41
  • @SimonBosley yeah but so much? If you think you can achieve the mentioned effect with pure compression please provide an audio example.
    – Pier
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


The harshness of the compression is similar to API's boxes. It might be one, although I never can remember the number of model.

The cool "damaged" sound are most certainly an artifact from (very likely Cedar) noise-reduction, EQ, and probably a mild distorsion to make it pop in the trailer. It's pretty safe to say it will sound different in the final film.

To truly reach this effect, you'll need good gear/mics with a clear lower mid (no mud), the acoustics under heavy control, and a voice that can actually perform this. The character of the voice is all in the lower mid here, which is what makes it sound "sctratchy" and nice instead of distorted.

Mind you though, I have no clue what exact kind of distortion is used. I'm guessing here (based on listening through YouTube on my home HD650-headphones/Prism interface/ancient i7-computer), but either they have some kind of modeled plugin i'm not aware of, or they've been using some kind of (quite possibly valve) analogue signal-path, which was overdriven to reach this very goal.

Myself, I'm about to try out tops from Vox and Marshall (to begin with) just for this very reason. For the moment, my trusty reamped old modded Boss DS-1's does the trick for many applications needing vicious bite, but they're hardly subtle, even on low settings.

Right now, my money's on the Vox-top, based on a combo I've been working with a lot a few years ago, but the jury's still out. Awesome mid, it has!

Well, no matter which it is in this trailer (be it software or hardware), the lead word here is "moderation". Make the voice pop in the mix, but don't let it sound actually damaged.

  • I've added a new example in my question. It's much more subtle though but there is this throat resonance coming up again.
    – Pier
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 22:53

Years later I figured out that the effect I was referring to was not produced by compression.

It's actually a voice register called vocal fry which is then enhanced by the vocal chain (compression, eq, etc).

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