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Understanding and using expanders

From: Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing

Video: Understanding and using expanders

Gates with ratio controls are called expanders. Instead of completely cutting off a signal below the threshold, expanders simply reduce the volume of the signal below the threshold by the specified ratio. In this case they're truly a reverse compressor because they expand the dynamic range of the signal instead of reducing it. In an expander, the signals that passed over the threshold are unaffected and the signals that fall under the threshold are attenuated. This creates a greater dynamic range between the softest and loudest parts of a signal. Expanders are perfect for scenarios when you don't want to kill the bleed but just want to turn it down a bit or separate it more from the main signal.

Understanding and using expanders

Gates with ratio controls are called expanders. Instead of completely cutting off a signal below the threshold, expanders simply reduce the volume of the signal below the threshold by the specified ratio. In this case they're truly a reverse compressor because they expand the dynamic range of the signal instead of reducing it. In an expander, the signals that passed over the threshold are unaffected and the signals that fall under the threshold are attenuated. This creates a greater dynamic range between the softest and loudest parts of a signal. Expanders are perfect for scenarios when you don't want to kill the bleed but just want to turn it down a bit or separate it more from the main signal.

This can help give a signal a little more bounce as the dynamic range between the below and above threshold parts is extended or expanded. Listen to the snare through an expander with a ratio of 2:1. Notice how the bleed is reduced but not eliminated. (music playing) Expanders, as well as gates, may also feature a range control that allows you to define the lower and upper end of the threshold so that the transfer curve remains linear both below and above the range of gating or expansion.

This control gives you more flexibility in separating signals from their underlying bleed while still maintaining some of it. In the following movie, let's look at how to apply a gate and expander to a track.

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This video is part of

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  1. 4m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 49s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      32s
    3. Using the exercise files
      53s
    4. Using the "Get in the Mix" Pro Tools and Logic Pro session files
      1m 42s
  2. 13m 47s
    1. What is amplitude?
      1m 51s
    2. Measuring amplitude
      1m 57s
    3. What is dynamic range?
      4m 8s
    4. What are dynamics processors?
      3m 36s
    5. Hardware and software dynamics processors
      2m 15s
  3. 38m 40s
    1. Introducing compressors
      1m 45s
    2. Understanding threshold
      1m 29s
    3. Utilizing compression ratios
      3m 0s
    4. Understanding makeup gain and gain reduction
      3m 13s
    5. Understanding attack and release
      2m 12s
    6. Applying attack and release
      5m 22s
    7. Demystifying compression controls: soft knee vs. hard knee
      2m 43s
    8. Get in the Mix: Using compression to even out a vocal performance
      4m 55s
    9. Get in the Mix: Using compression to add punch and sustain to drums
      4m 39s
    10. Intelligently using compression presets
      3m 6s
    11. Recording with compression: Why or why not?
      2m 53s
    12. Recording with compression: How to do it
      3m 23s
  4. 18m 50s
    1. Introducing limiters
      1m 59s
    2. Types of limiters
      4m 17s
    3. Get in the Mix: Maximizing mix loudness with brickwall limiters
      5m 58s
    4. Solving common mix problems with limiters
      2m 58s
    5. Using layered dynamics processing
      3m 38s
  5. 26m 49s
    1. Understanding and using de-essers
      3m 46s
    2. Get in the Mix: De-essing a vocal track
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding and using gates
      4m 41s
    4. Understanding and using expanders
      1m 35s
    5. Get in the Mix: Gating a drum track
      3m 18s
    6. Understanding and using multi-band compressors/limiters
      3m 31s
    7. Controlling frequency content with multi-band compressors
      3m 3s
    8. Understanding and using transient shapers
      3m 25s
  6. 36m 38s
    1. Effectively using side-chain inputs
      2m 6s
    2. Using side chains creatively
      5m 4s
    3. Keying gates and compressors (and/or ducking)
      4m 12s
    4. Managing gain staging and headroom and fixing over-compressed tracks
      3m 20s
    5. Compression first or EQ first?
      2m 56s
    6. Understanding mix bus compression
      3m 26s
    7. Get in the Mix: Using mix bus compression
      2m 47s
    8. Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression
      3m 46s
    9. Working with "modeled" vintage compressor/limiter plug-ins
      5m 57s
    10. Building healthy compression/limiting habits
      3m 4s
  7. 14s
    1. Goodbye
      14s
  8. 5m 51s
    1. A session with Brian Lee White
      5m 51s

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