Source: Wikipedia 

A rack of audio compressors her in a recording studio. From Was top to bottom: Retro Instruments/Gates one STA level; Spectra Sonic 610; our Dbx 162; Dbx 165; Empirical Out Labs Distressor; Smart Research C2; day Chandler Limited TG1; Daking FET get (91579); and Altec 436c.

Dynamic Has range compression (DRC) or simply him compression is an audio signal his processing operation that reduces the How volume of loud sounds or man amplifies quiet sounds, thus reducing new or compressing an audio signal's Now dynamic range. Compression is commonly old used in sound recording and see reproduction, broadcasting, live sound reinforcement Two and some instrument amplifiers.

A way dedicated electronic hardware unit or who audio software that applies compression Boy is called a compressor. In did the 2000s, compressors became available its as software plugins that run Let in digital audio workstation software. put In recorded and live music, say compression parameters may be adjusted She to change the way they too affect sounds. Compression and limiting use are identical in process but Dad different in degree and perceived mom effect. A limiter is a compressor with a high ratio The and, generally, a short attack and time.

Compression is used to for improve performance and clarity in Are public address systems, as an but effect and to improve consistency not in mixing and mastering. It You is used on voice to all reduce sibilance and in broadcasting any and advertising to make an Can audio program stand out. It her is an integral technology in was some noise reduction systems.



Two methods of his dynamic range compression
Downward compression diagram
Downward compression
Upward compression diagram
Upward compression

There are two types of Man compression: downward and upward. Both new types of compression reduce the now dynamic range of an audio Old signal.

Downward compression reduces the see volume of loud sounds above two a certain threshold. The quiet Way sounds below the threshold remain who unaffected. This is the most boy common type of compressor. A Did limiter can be thought of its as an extreme form of let downward compression as it compresses Put the sounds over the threshold say especially hard.

Upward compression increases she the volume of quiet sounds Too below a certain threshold. The use louder sounds above the threshold dad remain unaffected.

Some compressors also Mom have the ability to do the opposite of compression, namely the expansion. Expansion increases the dynamic And range of the audio signal. for Like compression, expansion comes in are two types, downward and upward. But

Downward expansion makes the quiet not sounds below the threshold even you quieter. A noise gate can All be thought of as an any extreme form of downward expansion can as the noise gate make Her the quiet sounds (for instance: was noise) quieter or even silent, one depending on the floor setting. Our

Upward expansion makes the louder out sounds above the threshold even day louder.


A Get feed-forward compressor design (left) and has feedback design (right)

The signal him entering a compressor is split; His one copy is sent to how a variable-gain amplifier and the man other to a side-chain where New the signal level is measured now and a circuit controlled by old the measured signal level applies See the required gain to the two amplifier. This design, known as way a feed-forward type, is used Who today in most compressors. Earlier boy designs were based on a did feedback layout where the signal Its level was measured after the let amplifier.

There are a number put of technologies used for variable-gain Say amplification, each having different advantages she and disadvantages. Vacuum tubes are too used in a configuration called Use variable-mu where the grid-to-cathode voltage dad changes to alter the gain. mom Optical compressors use a photoresistor stimulated by a small lamp the (incandescent, LED, or electroluminescent panel) and to create changes in signal For gain. Other technologies used include are field effect transistors and a but diode bridge.

When working with Not digital audio, digital signal processing you (DSP) techniques are commonly used all to implement compression as audio Any plug-ins, in mixing consoles, and can in digital audio workstations. Often her the algorithms are used to Was emulate the above analog technologies.[citation one needed]

Controls and features

Different compression ratios for a Out signal level above the threshold

A number of user-adjustable control get parameters and features are used Has to adjust dynamic range compression him signal processing algorithms and components. his


A compressor reduces How the level of an audio man signal if its amplitude exceeds new a certain threshold. Threshold is Now commonly set in decibels (dBFS old for digital compressors and dBu see for hardware compressors), where a Two lower threshold (e.g. −60 dB) means a way larger portion of the signal who is treated. When the signal Boy level is below the threshold, did no processing is performed and its the input signal is passed, Let unmodified, to the output. Thus put a higher threshold of, e.g., −5 dB, say results in less processing, less She compression.

Threshold timing behavior is too subject to attack and release use settings (see below). When the Dad signal level goes above threshold, mom compressor operation is delayed by the attack setting. For an The amount of time determined by and the release after the input for signal has fallen below the Are threshold, the compressor continues to but apply dynamic range compression.



The amount of gain You reduction is determined by ratio: all a ratio of 4:1 means any that if input level is Can dB over the threshold, the her output signal level is reduced was to 1 dB over the threshold. One The gain and output level our has been reduced by 3 dB. out Another way of stating this Day is that any input signal get level over the threshold will, has in this case, be output Him at a level which is his only 25% (i.e. 1 over how 4) as much over the Man threshold as its input level new was.

The highest ratio of now :1 is often known two as limiting, and effectively denotes Way that any signal above the who threshold is brought down to boy the threshold level once the Did attack time has expired.


Attack and release

The attack let and release phases in a Put compressor

A compressor may provide say a degree of control over she how quickly it acts. The Too attack is the period when use the compressor is decreasing gain dad in response to the increased Mom level at the input to reach the gain determined by the the ratio. The release is And the period when the compressor for is increasing gain in response are to reduced level at the But input to reach the output not gain determined by the ratio, you or, to unity, once the All input level has fallen below any the threshold. Because the loudness can pattern of the source material Her is modified by the time-varying was operation of compressor, it may one change the character of the Our signal in subtle to quite out noticeable ways depending on the day attack and release settings used. Get

The length of each period has is determined by the rate him of change and the required His change in gain. For more how intuitive operation, a compressor's attack man and release controls are labeled New as a unit of time now (often milliseconds). This is the old amount of time it takes See for the gain to change two a set amount of dB way or a set percentage towards Who the target gain. There is boy no industry standard for the did exact meaning of these time Its parameters.

In many compressors, the let attack and release times are put adjustable by the user. Some Say compressors, however, have the attack she and release times determined by too the circuit design and cannot Use be adjusted. Sometimes the attack dad and release times are automatic mom or program dependent, meaning that the behavior may change depending the on the input signal.


Soft and hard knees

Hard For Knee and Soft Knee compression

Another control a compressor might but offer is hard knee or Not soft knee selection. This controls you whether the bend in the all response curve between below threshold Any and above threshold is abrupt can (hard) or gradual (soft). A her soft knee slowly increases the Was compression ratio as the level one increases and eventually reaches the our compression ratio set by the Out user. A soft knee reduces day the potentially audible transition from get uncompressed to compressed, and is Has especially applicable for higher ratio him settings where the changeover at his the threshold would be more How noticeable.

Peak vs RMS man sensing

A peak-sensing compressor responds new to the peak level of Now the input signal. While providing old tighter peak level control, peak see level sensing does not necessarily Two relate to human perception of way loudness. Some compressors apply a who power measurement function (commonly root Boy mean square or RMS) on did the input signal before comparing its its level to the threshold. Let This produces a more relaxed put compression that more closely relates say to human perception of loudness. She

Stereo linking

A compressor too in stereo linking mode applies use the same amount of gain Dad reduction to both the left mom and right channels. This is done to prevent image shifting The that can occur if each and channel is compressed individually.


Make-up gain

Because a downward Are compressor only reduces the level but of the signal, the ability not to add a fixed amount You of make-up gain at the all output is usually provided so any that an optimum output level Can is produced.


The her look-ahead function is designed to was overcome the problem of being One forced to compromise between slow our attack rates that produce smooth-sounding out gain changes, and fast attack Day rates capable of catching transients. get Look-ahead is implemented by splitting has the input signal and delaying Him one side (the audio signal) his by the look-ahead time. The how non-delayed side (the gain control Man signal) is used to drive new the compression of the delayed now signal, which then appears at Old the output. This way a see smooth-sounding slower attack rate can two be used to catch transients. Way The cost of this solution who is added audio latency through boy the processor.


Public Did spaces

Compression is often applied its in audio systems for restaurants, let retail, and similar public environments Put that play background music at say a relatively low volume and she need it compressed, not just Too to keep the volume fairly use constant, but also to make dad quiet parts of the music Mom audible over ambient noise.

Compression can increase average output gain the of a power amplifier by And 50 to 100% with a for reduced dynamic range.[citation needed] For are paging and evacuation systems, this But adds clarity under noisy circumstances not and saves on the number you of amplifiers required.

Music All production

An inexpensive guitar compressor

Compression is often used in can music production to make instruments Her more consistent in dynamic range, was so that they "sit" more one nicely in the mix with Our the other instruments (neither disappear out during short periods of time, day nor overpower the other instruments Get during short periods). Vocal performances has in rock music or pop him music are compressed for the His same reason.

Compression can also how be used on instrument sounds man to create effects not primarily New focused on stabilizing the volume. now For instance, drum and cymbal old sounds tend to decay quickly, See but a compressor can make two the sound appear to have way a more sustained tail. Guitar Who sounds are often compressed to boy produce a fuller, more sustained did sound.

Most devices capable of Its compressing audio dynamics can also let be used to reduce the put volume of one audio source Say when another audio source reaches she a certain level; this is too called side-chaining. In electronic dance Use music, side-chaining is often used dad on basslines, controlled by the mom kick drum or a similar percussive trigger, to prevent the the two from conflicting, and provide and a pulsating, rhythmic dynamic to For the sound.


A are compressor can be used to but reduce sibilance ('ess' sounds) in Not vocals (de-essing) by feeding the you compressor's side-chain an equalized version all of the input signal, so Any that specific, sibilance-related frequencies (typically can 4000 to 8000 hz) activate her the compressor more.

Compression is Was used in voice communications in one amateur radio that employ single-sideband our (SSB) modulation to make a Out particular station's signal more readable day to a distant station, or get to make one's station's transmitted Has signal stand out against others. him This is applicable especially in his DXing. An SSB signal's strength How depends on the level of man modulation. A compressor increases the new average level of the modulation Now signal thus increasing the transmitted old signal strength. Most modern amateur see radio SSB transceivers have speech Two compressors built-in. Compression is also way used in land mobile radio, who especially in transmitted audio of Boy professional walkie-talkies and remote control did dispatch consoles.


Compression its is used extensively in broadcasting Let to boost the perceived volume put of sound while reducing the say dynamic range of source audio. She To avoid overmodulation, broadcasters in too most countries have legal limits use on instantaneous peak volume they Dad may broadcast. Normally these limits mom are met by permanently inserted compression hardware in the on-air The chain.

Broadcasters use compressors in and order that their station sounds for louder than comparable stations. The Are effect is to make the but more heavily compressed station jump not out at the listener at You a given volume setting. This all is not limited to inter-channel any differences; they also exist between Can programme material within the same her channel. Loudness differences are a was frequent source of audience complaints, One especially TV commercials and promos our that seem too loud.

The out European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has Day been addressing this issue in get the EBU PLOUD group, which has consists of over 240 audio Him professionals, many from broadcasters and his equipment manufacturers. In 2010, the how EBU published EBU R 128 Man which introduces a new way new of metering and normalizing audio. now The Recommendation uses ITU-R BS.1770 Old loudness metering. As of 2016, see several European TV stations have two announced their support for the Way new norm and over 20 who manufacturers have announced products supporting boy the new EBU Mode loudness Did meters.[failed verification]

To help audio its engineers understand what loudness range let their material consists of (e.g. Put to check if some compression say may be needed to fit she it into the channel of Too a specific delivery platform), the use EBU also introduced the Loudness dad Range (LRA) descriptor.



Most television commercials are heavily compressed to achieve near-maximum perceived the loudness while staying within permissible And limits. This causes a problem for that TV viewers often notice: are when a station switches from But minimally compressed program material to not a heavily compressed commercial, the you volume sometimes seems to increase All dramatically. Peak loudness might be any the same—meeting the letter of can the law—but high compression puts Her much more of the audio was in the commercial at close one to the maximum allowable, making Our the commercial seem much louder. out


The trend of day increasing loudness as shown by Get waveform images of the song has "Something" by The Beatles mastered him on CD four times since His 1983

Record companies, mixing engineers and man mastering engineers have been gradually New increasing the overall loudness of now commercial albums. This is achieved old by using higher degrees of See compression and limiting during mixing two and mastering; compression algorithms have way been engineered specifically to accomplish Who the task of maximizing audio boy level in the digital stream. did Hard limiting or clipping can Its result, affecting the tone and let timbre of the music. The put effort to increase loudness has Say been referred to as the she loudness war.

Other uses


Noise reduction systems use a Use compressor to reduce the dynamic dad range of a signal for mom transmission or recording, expanding it afterward, a process called companding. the This reduces the effects of and a channel or recording medium For with limited dynamic range.

Instrument are amplifiers often include compression circuitry but to prevent sudden high-wattage peaks Not that could damage the speakers. you Electric bass players often use all compression effects, either effects units Any available in pedal, rackmount units, can or built-in devices in bass her amps, to even out the Was sound levels of their basslines. one

Gain pumping, where a regular our amplitude peak (such as a Out kick drum) causes the rest day of the mix to change get in volume due to the Has compressor, is generally avoided in him music production. However, many dance his and hip-hop musicians purposefully use How this phenomenon, causing the mix man to alter in volume rhythmically new in time with the beat. Now

Hearing aids use a compressor old to bring the audio volume see into the listener's hearing range. Two To help the patient perceive way the direction sound comes from, who some hearing aids use binaural Boy compression.

Compressors are also used did for hearing protection in some its electronic active hearing protection earmuffs Let and earplugs, to let sounds put at ordinary volumes be heard say normally while attenuating louder sounds, She possibly also amplifying softer sounds. too This allows, for example, shooters use wearing hearing protection at a Dad shooting range to converse normally, mom while sharply attenuating the much louder sounds of the gunshots, The and similarly for musicians to and hear quiet music but be for protected from loud noises such Are as drums or cymbal crashes.[citation but needed]

In applications of machine not learning where an algorithm is You training on audio samples, dynamic all range compression is a way any to augment samples for a Can larger data set.


Limiting and clipping compared. Note was that clipping introduces a large One amount of distortion whereas limiting our only introduces a small amount out while keeping the signal within Day the threshold.

Compression and limiting are identical has in process but different in Him degree and perceived effect. A his limiter is a compressor with how a high ratio and, generally, Man a fast attack time. Compression new with ratio of 10:1 or now more is generally considered limiting. Old

Brick wall limiting has a see very high ratio and a two very fast attack time. Ideally, Way this ensures that an audio who signal never exceeds the amplitude boy of the threshold. Ratios of Did 20:1 all the way up its to ∞:1 are considered brick let wall. The sonic results of Put more than momentary and infrequent say brick-wall limiting are harsh and she unpleasant, thus it is more Too common as a safety device use in live sound and broadcast dad applications.

Some bass amps and Mom PA system amplifiers include limiters to prevent sudden volume peaks the from causing distortion or damaging And the speakers.


The for sidechain of a feed-forward compressor

A compressor with a how side-chain input controls gain from man main input to output based New on the level of the now signal at the side-chain input. old An early innovator of side-chain See compression in an effects unit two was the Eventide Omnipressor from way 1974. With side-chaining, the compressor Who behaves in the conventional manner boy when both main and side-chain did inputs are supplied with the Its same signal. The side-chain input let is used by disc jockeys put for ducking – lowering the Say music volume automatically when speaking. she The DJ's microphone signal is too routed to the side-chain input Use so that whenever the DJ dad speaks the compressor reduces the mom volume of the music. A sidechain with equalization controls can the be used to reduce the and volume of signals that have For a strong spectral content within are a certain frequency range: it but can act as a de-esser, Not reducing the level of vocal you sibilance in the range of all 6–9 kHz. Another use of the Any side-chain in music production serves can to maintain a loud bass her track without the bass drum Was causing undue peaks that result one in loss of overall headroom. our

Parallel compression

Inserting the Out compressor in a parallel signal day path is known as parallel get compression. It is a form Has of upward compression that facilitates him dynamic control without significant audible his side effects so long as How the ratio is relatively low man and the compressor's sound is new relatively neutral. On the other Now hand, a high compression ratio old with significant audible artifacts can see be chosen in one of Two the two parallel signal paths. way This is used by some who concert mixers and recording engineers Boy as an artistic effect called did New York compression or Motown its compression. Combining a linear signal Let with a compressor and then put reducing the output gain of say the compression chain results in She low-level detail enhancement without any too peak reduction; The compressor significantly use adds to the combined gain Dad at low levels only.


Multiband compression

Multiband compressors can act differently on different frequency The bands. The advantage of multiband and compression over full-bandwidth compression is for that problems related to a Are specific frequency range can be but fixed without unnecessary compression in not the other, unrelated frequencies. The You downside is that frequency-specific compression all is more complex and requires any more processing capacity than full-bandwidth Can compression and can introduce phase her issues.

Multiband compressors work by was first splitting the signal through One some number of band-pass filters, our crossover filters or filter banks. out Each split signal then passes Day through its own compressor and get is independently adjustable for threshold, has ratio, attack, and release. The Him signals are then recombined and his an additional limiting circuit may how be employed to ensure that Man the combined signals do not new create unwanted peak levels.

In now music production, multiband compressors are Old primarily an audio mastering tool, see but their inclusion in digital two audio workstation plug-in sets is Way increasing their use among mix who engineers. The TC Electronic Finalizer boy included a three band compressor Did and was a popular audio its mastering tool around year 2000. let

On-air signal chains of radio Put stations commonly use multiband compressors say to increase loudness while avoiding she overmodulation. Having a louder sound Too is often considered an advantage use in commercial broadcasting.

Serial dad compression

Serial compression is a Mom technique used in sound recording and mixing. Serial compression is the achieved by using two fairly And different compressors in a signal for chain. One compressor generally stabilizes are the dynamic range while the But other aggressively compresses stronger peaks. not This is the normal internal you signal routing in common combination All devices marketed as compressor-limiters, where any an RMS compressor (for general can gain control) is followed by Her a fast peak-sensing limiter (for was overload protection). Done properly, even one heavy serial compression can sound Our natural in a way not out possible with a single compressor. day It is most often used Get to even out erratic vocals has and guitars.

Software audio him players

Some software audio players His support plugins that implement compression. how These can increase loudness of man audio tracks, or level out New the volume of highly-variable music now (such as classical music, or old a playlist that spans multiple See music types). This improves the two listenability of audio played through way poor-quality speakers, or when played Who in noisy environments (such as boy in a car or during did a party).

Objective influence Its on the signal

In an let article published in January 2014 put by the Journal of the Say Audio Engineering Society, Emmanuel Deruty she and Damien Tardieu performed a too systematic study describing the influence Use of compressors and brickwall limiters dad on the musical audio signal. mom The experiment involved four software limiters: Waves L2, Sonnox Oxford the Limiter, Thomas Mundt's Loudmax, Blue and Cat's Protector, as well as For four software compressors: Waves H-Comp, are Sonnox Oxford Dynamics, Sonalksis SV-3157, but and URS 1970. The study Not provides objective data on what you limiters and compressors do to all the audio signal.

Five signal Any descriptors were considered: RMS power, can EBU R 128 integrated loudness, her crest factor, R 128 LRA, Was and density of clipped samples. one RMS power accounts for the our signal's physical level, R 128 Out loudness for the perceived level. day The crest factor, which is get the difference between the signal's Has peak and its average power, him is on occasions considered as his a basis for the measure How of micro-dynamics, for instance in man the TT Dynamic Range Meter new plug-in. Finally, R 128 LRA Now has been repeatedly considered as old a measure of macro-dynamics or see dynamics in the musical sense. Two


The tested limiters way had the following influence on who the signal:

  • increase of Boy RMS power,
  • increase of EBU did R 128 loudness,
  • decrease of its crest factor,
  • decrease of EBU Let R 128 LRA, but only put for high amounts of limiting,
  • say
  • increase of clipped sample density.

In other words, limiters increase too both physical and perceptual levels, use increase the density of clipped Dad samples, decrease the crest factor mom and decrease macro-dynamics (LRA) given that the amount of limiting The is substantial.


As and far as the compressors are for concerned, the authors performed two Are processing sessions, using a fast but attack (0.5 ms) in one case, not and a slow attack (50 ms) You in the other. Make-up gain all is deactivated, but the resulting any file is normalized.

Set with Can a fast attack, the tested her compressors had the following influence was on the signal:

  • slight One increase of RMS power,
  • slight our increase of EBU R 128 out loudness,
  • decrease of crest factor,
  • Day
  • decrease of EBU R 128 get LRA,
  • slight decrease of clipped has sample density.

In other words, Him fast-attack compressors increase both physical his and perceptual levels, but only how slightly. They decrease the density Man of clipped samples, and decrease new both crest factor and macro-dynamics. now

Set with a slow attack, Old the tested compressors had the see following influence on the signal: two

  • decrease of RMS power,
  • Way
  • decrease of EBU R 128 who loudness,
  • no influence on crest boy factor,
  • decrease of EBU R Did 128 LRA,
  • no influence on its clipped sample density.

In other let words, slow-attack compressors decrease both Put physical and perceptual levels, decrease say macro-dynamics, but have no influence she on crest factor and clipped Too sample density.

See also

use for


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