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So as I said, dynamics processors allow us to manipulate a signal's dynamic range in a variety of different ways, sometimes reducing it, sometimes increasing it. These processors are able to do this by measuring a signal's level over time and reacting to these changes in a predetermined way defined by you, the mixer. Generally, how this works is by defining the signal level at which the processor begins to react which is called the threshold, and then creating a rule for when that event happens.
For example, when a signal level Y is greater than the threshold, do this to the signal. So you can see in this graphic, as the green line breaches the threshold, a compressor or a gate is activated, turned on As it dies back below the threshold, it's turned off. This is how most dynamics processors work is through interaction with the threshold, and its loudness in a waveform's amplitude that breaches this threshold and activates the processor.
So an example of this. You have been your own dynamics processor, even if you don't know it. So if you have ever been watching television and your favorite show is on, it's at great volume, and a commercial comes on, and just blows you out of your chair, wakes everybody up in the house. And you go and you reach for the controller and you turn that volume down. So you are effectively compressing the volume of the television. What has happened is that the commercial has triggered your personal threshold for being too loud.
The commercial is too loud. And in turn, you have gone and turned it down. Now, as soon as your program comes back on, what you are going to do probably is turn the volume back up so that you can hear all the dialogue, and you will continue to do this as commercials come on, turn it down again. And then as soon as the signal falls back below, your threshold is too loud. You will turn it back up again So we do the same thing in mixing all the time. A perfect example would be a vocal getting too loud or dying down too low below the rest of the mix.
So that it actually obscures the words or makes them pop out way too much. Now, the common dynamics processors that we are going to work with in Pro Tools are compressors, limiters, and then we have gates and expanders and de-essers. Using these processors, we are going to be able to control the track's specific dynamics characteristics as they relate to the rest of the mix. We are going to really be able to rein in on the amplitude dimension of a waveform.
So next to EQ, these will quickly become your most useful tools in mixing. I find that signals tend to be overly dynamic when recorded, and these processors are going to create a tight, punchy, and focused mix that really sounds like a record.
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