Dynamic Processors Techniques

Dynamic processors change an audio signal by adjusting the dynamic content of the sound being worked on.

There are a variety of different uses for dynamic processors, including:

Not sure what a dynamic processor is? Learn about the fundamentals of dynamic processors.

Compressing Individual Sounds


It is impossible for a vocalist to sing at a constant volume. A compressor can be used to reduce the dynamic range, allowing for every word to be heard at a more constant volume.

Too much compression on a vocal can lead to it sounding restrained and unnatural.


  1. Set a fast attack of about 20 milliseconds
  2. Set a moderate release time of about 300 milliseconds
  3. If the compressor has an option to set a soft or hard knee, pick soft-knee for a more natural sound
  4. Initially set the ratio at about 6:1
  5. Whilst listening to the vocal, reduce the threshold control, starting at 0dB. Stop at the point you notice a slight change in volume reduction (usually happens at about -8dB)
  6. Turn on the auto gain compensate to boost the overall signal
  7. Find a part in the song where the vocalist is singing loud then gradually reduce the ratio control. Stop at the point the sound seems less squeezed but still constant
  8. The ratio should be around 3:1 when finished.

The kick and Snare drum

The dynamics of the kick and snare drum can vary dramatically. Compression helps make them sound more constant and punchy.


  1. Start with a high ratio of about 8:1
  2. Position the attack at about 5-10 milliseconds
  3. Position the release at 340 milliseconds
  4. Bring the threshold control down until you hear a constant thumping sound
  5. Switch on auto gain compensation to boost the overall signal.

Bass Guitar

Bass guitars are hard to play at a constant volume. Applying compression helps to ensure that the bass doesn’t keep wandering in and out of the mix.


  1. Start with a high ratio of about 6:1
  2. Position the attack at about 5 milliseconds and the release at 100 milliseconds
  3. Bring the threshold control down until you hear a constant thumping sound
  4. Switch on auto gain compensation to boost the overall signal.

Prevent Distortion

Often a heavy kick drum or loud bass guitar will cause large peaks in the signal that causes distortion. Using a limiter can help prevent distortion.


  1. Position the attack and release controls at their fastest so they respond immediately and recover immediately
  2. If there is an option to choose soft or hard knee, pick hard knee so the limiter kicks in abruptly
  3. Set the ratio at 20:1 for maximum compression
  4. Adjust the threshold at the point where the music volume starts to decrease. The compressor will now act as a brick wall to any sound that meets the threshold.

Adding Punch to a Sound

Compressors are often used to add punch to a sound. This is useful if there is a rhythmic pattern that somehow lacks definition in the mix.

The trick is to set the attack to just let the sound through and set the release to extend the sound. A perfect balance has to be achieved. Try to avoid an overly fast attack as this will reduce punch. Also if the release is set too long, the compressor will pump out of time.


  1. Start with a slow attack of about 80 milliseconds
  2. Moderate release time of about 400 milliseconds
  3. The ratio should be set high at about 20:1
  4. Slowly bring the threshold down until a pumping sound is audible
  5. Switch on the hard knee option if available.
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