Archives For mixing

Qu16-comp

The topic of the day is audio compression. Compression is a common tool found on digital mixers, dedicated outboard units and audio software. Compressors can be tremendously helpful, but they are intimidating at first. This is partly because they seem to be doing lots of math, hidden behind complicated terminology. I’m not going to lie to you: compressors are not simple. They are probably the most advanced tools you will ever use in a mix. But I’m confident you can learn to use them and that’s why we’re here. To start, we need to understand what compressors do:

Compressors reduce the dynamic range of a source to help it sit better in the mix.

“Dynamic range” is the difference between the softest and loudest sounds in a source. A compressor reduces this range, evening out the levels of a performance and often making it sound louder in the end.

How does it accomplish this? Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 3 in the series EQ

Saw

If I could only give one tip for working EQ it would be to cut first, boost if you have to. There are a few good reasons I say this, but first I want to make sure we all know what I’m talking about.

Cut first, boost if you have to

Last week we said that EQ is a volume control for a specific frequency.¬†It lets you add or subtract gain at a specific frequency to [hopefully] balance the sound of a source. Boosting turns up a particular frequency, while cutting turns it down. So, if the goal is to make everything heard clearly, why shouldn’t we just turn up the frequencies we want to hear? I’ll give you two reasons: one technical and one artistic.

The technical reason is that, when it comes to EQ, boosts aren’t as clean as cuts.¬†Boosting frequencies soon results in Continue Reading…

Gain-knob

It’s the knob at the top. The importance of getting the gain right can’t be overstated. It’s the fundamental first setting on each channel that affects every knob, fader and external processor all the way down the chain.

The simplest way to define gain is as a volume control on the way into the console.

Gain is a volume control on the way into the console.

Microphones output a very quiet signal which we call “mic level”. The exact level varies based on the kind of microphone, the source volume and the distance from the source to the microphone, but it’s in the millivolt range. Continue Reading…