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  • Index
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  •  » Dynamics Processing (Compressor, Expander, Limiters, De-Essers, Etc)

#1 2014-07-19 13:45:57

FelipeCarvalho
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From: Brasil
Registered: 2011-07-28
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Dynamics Processing (Compressor, Expander, Limiters, De-Essers, Etc)

Hi, wanna start a thread to talk about this particular point.

What is it?

Dynamic range, is how much difference of loudness is there from the most quiet to the most loud point of your audio. How much variation of intensity you have.

Thinking only about the technical aspect. More dynamic range = closer to reality = better sound quality.

Dynamics processing plugins/equipment are in most part automated volume controls, that changes the volume based on parameters. A compressor for example turns the volume down (compress), by a given ammount (ratio), whenever the volume is higher than a certain level (threshold).


Why is it necessary to process dynamics?


Well, the short, to the point answer, is that its because its what the listenner is expecting, its the kind of  standard used. And expecting as in: most user grade equipment is built and constructed already expecting it!



Now lets explain it better.


First, lets think about what high fidelity would be.

A trully hi-fi sound is the situation where, what you listen on your recording, MATCHES how it was sounding when recorded. Thats all. What was being played on the room, is what you hear on the recording.

Awesome. But then would it not be the case that compression and dynamics processing would alter this sound, thus compromising recording quality? Yes! Its exactly so.


Thats actually the real benefit that we got from digital audio, a huge dynamic range, thus LESS NEED for compression. With the 16 bits the CD allowed, it doubled the avaiable dynamic range when compared to vynil. This means that the difference from the loudest to the most quiet sound that could be recorded was huge.


However, there is more to it than the recording media... The rest of the equipment. You see... To have such dynamic margin, you need an amplifier that can handle such large excursions, the amplifier needs to be able to reproduce all these variations, this means more avaiable power. And, at the same time, you WILL have people listenning on $5 headphones or notebook speakers.

What about a car? What would happen to the quiet parts against the background noise?

So you see, if all this dynamic range was used, unless a very good quality equipment was used to reproduce the audio, a big part of the content would be too quiet for this audience, you would miss a big deal of market.


So QUALITY IS SACRIFICED FOR THE SAKE OF COMPATIBILITY. The audio is compressed, reducing the dynamic range, reducing the difference from the loudest point to the most quiet point.


And this has been present on the recording industry for so long, because of the needs that media like the vynil presented, that it became a standard. We expect it on the music we listen to, and it became kind of a obsession to make records as compressed as possible to make it sound like it has more energy and power when compared to other songs...


An example that can clarify it. A lot of Blue Rays will sound much quieter than their DVDs counterparts when played at the same volume level. A lot of players have an option that allow you to compress the dynamic range. Simply because if you are playing the blue ray without a good equipment, using just the TV audio for example, if you turn the volume up so that you hear the normal conversations loud and clear, probably when you have a loud sound like gun-shots the TV will distort because it cant handle such loud sound.


A lot of people actually complain of just having to turn up the volume!!! (go figure)



So make no mistake, although there IS a lot of valid points when people talk about the loudness wars, and the degradation of sound due to over compressing stuff, you WILL need to compress your tracks if you want people to play it back and listen to what you are doing in multiple devices.

This is of special importance if you are recording vocals against already existant backing tracks, since they come already very compressed.

Last edited by FelipeCarvalho (2014-07-19 13:53:16)

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2014-07-19 13:45:57

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