Using a dynamic range audio compressor to its full potential is one of the most tricky aspects in audio engineering. Even for seasoned audio professionals, it takes a lot of effort and experience to set up an audio compressor. This discourages many beginners or amateurs to either completely skip using it or deploying it in their setup. This is where the Studiomaster Professional Orb series mixers step up!
This new and exciting series of mixers feature an intuitively-designed and simple One Knob Compressor on select inputs. This useful tool helps users control the dynamic range and harness the true benefits of audio compression without the hassle of setting complex parameters in a simple one-knob interface. From all the features integrated into the mixing consoles, One Knob Compression is the one getting the most amount of attention and rightfully so. Using the Studiomaster Professional Orb series mixers as an example, this blog explores the basics and how to use the one knob compressor in your live setups and shows.
Performances by some instruments and vocals don’t always maintain the same volume. Adjusting the volume in real-time so that the audience can comfortably listen is an essential element in mixing. It is physically impossible for audio engineers to predict and control the gain levels during live application. This is where an audio compressor comes in handy. Below are key benefits and advantages of audio compressors.
Audio compression which is also known as Dynamic range compression (DRC) is a signal processing operation that reduces/decreases the volume of loud sounds or amplifies/increases quieter sounds, thus compressing or reducing an audio signal’s dynamic range. Simply put, dynamic range is the ratio between the highest and lowest level of an audio signal. Compression reduces loud audio signals over a certain threshold, while quieter sounds remain unaffected.
1. Threshold: An audio compressor reduces the level of a signal if its amplitude (volume) exceeds a certain threshold that is set by the user. Commonly set and measured in decibels (dB), it is the signal level where your compressor will start working. Any signal above the threshold dB will be compressed.
Setting a lower threshold limit (for e.g. -18dB or lower) will apply the compressor’s gain reduction to a larger portion of the signal. A higher threshold level (for e.g. -3dB or higher) will affect only the most aggressive peaks (transients), while the rest is untouched.
2. Compression Ratio: It determines how much volume or gain reduction the compressor applies when the signal goes above the threshold. The amount of reduction is determined by a ratio as it is expressed in comparison to the unaffected/uncompressed signal. The higher the first number of the ratio, the greater the amount by which the gain is reduced.
For e.g. A ratio of 4:1 means that if the input level is 4dB over the threshold, the output signal level is reduced to 1dB over the threshold. The overall gain and output level has been reduced by 3dB.
3. Attack & Release Time: The attack and release are two parts of the same range of control parameters. Measured and set in millisecond (ms), it is the timing with which the compressor’s gain reduction starts (attack) and stops (release) affecting the audio signal. How fast or slow the signal gets compressed is determined by the attack and release controls.
The attack is the period when the compressor decreases gain in response to the increased level. The release is the period when the compressor increases gain in response to the reduced level.
4. Makeup Gain: As a compressor reduces the level of the signal, it has provisions to add a fixed amount of make-up gain at the output. It is provided so that an optimum output level is produced.
While knowing these key parameters are certainly useful, the Orb series mixers makes things much easier for the user.
One Knob Compressor by Studiomaster Professional
For your convenience, the Studiomaster Professional Orb series mixers feature one knob compressor on the first few inputs (Orb 1822: Ch. 1-8 & Orb 1222: Ch. 1-5). All the key 3 functions of an audio compressor i.e. the threshold setting, compression ratio and makeup gain are integrated into a single, easy-to-use, one knob solution with the attack and release time being fixed. Turning the knob clockwise increases the effect of the compressor and vice versa. It works quite similar to the dry/wet level knob found in many effects processors.
The one knob compressor lets you achieve the optimal compression effect from everything ranging from vocals to instruments. This makes your mix sound natural and pleasant without the need to remember difficult parameters and operating principles and without the need to connect external equipment. In a nutshell, Studiomaster Professional’s one knob dynamic range compression helps you achieve an even, clear, and loud audio signal on-the-fly!
Orb Series Compressor Measurement
Below are actual readings of the Orb series compressor in action for your reference.
Orb Series by Studiomaster Professional
Not only is the Orb series one of the best mixers with compression in India, but it also features a DSP-based dual multi-EFX processor, built-in USB MP3 media player and recorder with Bluetooth and a host of inputs, outputs, and routing options. To empower a hands-on user interface, the Orb series mixers sport an ergonomically-angled design for better visibility and rear panel input and output connectivity for a clutter-free mixing environment. The availability of inserts (send/return) on the first 4 mono channels and main outputs allow the users to use outboard effects processors in the signal chain as required.
Other features in the mixers include 5 Aux buses with stereo returns, 2 subgroups with outputs, globally switched +48V Phantom power supply, 7-band stereo graphic equalizer on the master output and much more. Packed with so many features, the Orb series mixing consoles are ideal for a host of professional live, touring, install and PA applications. The mixers are a great choice for users who refuse to sacrifice sound quality, value, and reliability. They are already winning hearts across the length and breadth of India. The Orb 1822 and Orb 1222 mixers are readily available at authorised Studiomaster Professional outlets across India. Watch the video below to know more about the mixing consoles.
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