9. Common terms

On this page, you will find common terms all around audio compressors:

Ratio

Compression ratio between the input and output signal

Threshold

signal level (in dB) above which the compression sets in

Attack

time (in milliseconds) between the audio signal and the beginning of compression

Release

time (in ms) after the downward regulation of the compressor

Gain

amplification (in dB) to make up for the loss of level caused by the compression

Sidechain

possibility to insert an equalizer into a “side branch” of the compressor, in order to attenuate or amplify a certain frequency (similar to multiband compression)

Soft knee

compressor characteristic with a softer transition between the uncompressed and compressed sections

Hard knee

compressor characteristic with a hard transition between the uncompressed and compressed sections, as pictured above

Behaviour

this term may appear in connection with software compressors and describes the (virtual) circuit design of the compressor, e.g. Opto.

Limiter

Limits the audio signal to a certain level. A compressor with a ratio of 8:1 or higher acts as a limiter.

FOH

“Front of house”, meaning the mixing desk for the main mix played through the audience speakers (which is located in front of the “house” rsp. the audience, as opposed to the mixing desk for the monitor mix for the musicians)

DAW

Digital Audio Workstation

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