In a previous article we explained Compression, what it is and how it works to make your podcast sound better. But have you ever wondered if there’s a tool in the sound engineering toolbox that does the opposite of compression?
If so, look no further as we delve into the less-spoken about world of Expanders/Expansion, and explain how they can benefit you and your podcasts.
Both Compressor and Expander are tools that fall under the category of dynamics processors, as they both control the average level of an audio file, but they work opposite from each other.
Compressors increase the average level of a piece of audio when triggered, by reducing the dynamic range, while Expanders do the opposite as they decrease the average level of audio when triggered, by increasing the dynamic range.
A Compressor reduces the amplitude of the peaks of your audio but brings up the level of the troughs (low-level parts) of the signal, reducing the overall dynamic range. Expanders, however, further increase the peaks and further decrease the troughs of the signal and increase the dynamic range.
Expanders are a worthy tool to try and use if you want to tame the noise-floor in your recordings. In a previous article where we discussed Bit-Depth, we touched on the idea that a greater dynamic range will help contain noise in a recording.
As the noise-floor exists as a natural form of interference in all audio at the lowest parts of an audio signal. The Expander however will push the noise-floor even lower to clean up your recordings, but be careful of pushing it too far as the rest of your audio will become louder and will be susceptible to more frequent peaks which may become fatiguing to the ears of your listeners.
Also, too much expansion can trigger “gating” where your audio can sound choppy and segmented when a speaker in your podcast might be more on the dynamic side, constantly becoming louder and then softer. The softer-spoken moments will become even softer and the louder parts will become louder.
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Did you find this article useful? You may also enjoy reading these articles: De-Essing: Reducing harsh ‘s’ sounds with a de-esser | Microphone Preamplifier | Equalization – The Key to better Sound