Audio Dynamics 101
Compressors, Limiters, Expanders, and Gates I remember one of my friends talking about compressors when we first started getting into music production. “I don’t really know what a compressor does, but I put it on everything because it just makes things sound better.” This is the mentality that a lot of early producers have, and thinking this way hinders their ability to make informed decisions when producing and mixing.
In this article, we’ll demystify the compressor and other dynamics processors. We’ll cover the four main types of plug-ins used to control dynamics: limiters, compressors, expanders, and gates. We’ll discuss the mathematical processes behind these tools, how they affect the sound, and the best scenarios in which to use them.
Dynamics and dynamic range Before we discuss the dynamics processors themselves, it’s important to understand what we’re actually doing to the sound. Each of these processors is able to affect the dynamics of a sound, changes in volume over the course of its lifespan. Dynamics are a huge part of a sound’s identity, so having the ability to control dynamics is an invaluable tool for producers and mix engineers. The difference between the sound’s loudest and quietest moments in the track is called the dynamic range. This dynamic range is the main aspect of a sound that we will be affecting with these processors. For the most part, the names of these processors refer to what we are doing to the dynamics or dynamic range. Read more …