One of my absolute favorite plug-ins is free, and you’re just plain crazy if you don’t have it. The Rough Rider, brought to you by Audio Damage:

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If you’ve got a small plug-in collection (or even a big one), you’ll find that this sucker is a fantastic compliment to Live’s built-in compressor. While Live’s Compressor is good for everyday utility compression and can be made to sound fairly transparent, this thing is pure over-the-top balls. All vibe and color, not at all about subtlety.

To get a feel for it, start out by adjusting the Sensitivity, which is like a threshold control. As you turn it down, less compression is applied. Be careful! Notice that the default setting for Makeup is around +15dB. That means that turning down Sensitivity can result in there being a lot more gain at the output, all of a sudden.

After that, it’s mostly about tweaking the Attack and Release. A faster attack means that the transients will tend to get crushed, while slower lets more of the natural attack of the sound come through. As the release is sped up, you get some pretty crazy pumping from this thing as the decay portion of the sound is exaggerated. Slowing it down compresses the decay more evenly and preserves more of its original volume envelope.

The Ratio is the last thing I tend to mess with on this thing. Your mileage may vary.