Preamps and compressors????

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by kaplan, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. kaplan

    kaplan Guest

    Anytime I've heard or read something about home recording, Good preamps and compressors are highly recommended. Can anyone explain exactly what these effects do, and how they improve recordings so dramatically.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Mic pres and compressors are not effects, they are processors. Effects are things like flangers, delays , reverbs, echo, phasers, spatializers ...

    Mics in general, have very low output signals. They almost always need a preamplifier to be brought up to line level to be recorded. This is what a mic pre does. Good mic pres can add a pleasing sonic signature or in some cases be very transparent. Cheap ones can muffle the sound or impart a harshness / shrillness to the signal. The shortest route to good recordings is good mic pres, IMO ... others may not agree but that's my take. Good pres first!

    Compressors control the dynamic range of a signal. This is the difference between how quiet (it's lowest levels) and loud (the highest level) a signal is. Compressors can hold down the peaks of a signal and help prevent input overloads (clipping). A side effect of this is the overall loudness of the signal can be perceived as greater. In some cases, make up gain is applied thereby increasing the signal strength, making it more up front (louder) in the mix but preventing it from peaking out and overwhelming the rest of the mix.

    Careful use of compressors when recording and in mixing is an integral part of recording technique. (Almost) everything needs to be compressed in some way when it is recorded.. Real world dynamics are far greater than any recording medium is capable of reproducing.

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