As audio engineers, one of the most important tools we have is our audio compressor. We use it to regulate the fluctuating levels of our audio, ensuring the sound is of the highest quality and consistency possible. But how do audio compressors actually work?
Most audio compressors are equipped with something called a ‘knee’. It’s this ‘knee’ which allows compressors to set ratios and thresholds that give smoother transitions from uncompressed to compressed signal. But why do they have one?
The knee of an audio compressor works by creating a soft transition between uncompressed and compressed audio. This soft transition allows us to, more subtly, maintain the correct levels that have been set. Without a knee, the audio would be more extreme and abrupt in the transition.
Another key factor behind having a ‘knee’ is that it allows us to precisely adjust the point at which compression will take place. This means we can effectively squeeze more dynamic range into our audio while still maintaining great sound quality.
Not only do audio compressors help to maintain consistent sound levels, they also help protect our audio from clipping and distortion. The knee of the compressor creates a soft ‘cliff edge’ that allows us to protect the audio and keep it from clipping.
To summarise, the knee of an audio compressor is crucial for maintaining consistent sound levels. It also helps to create smooth transitions between uncompressed and compressed audio as well as protect our audio from clipping. So, if you want to get the best from your audio compressor, make sure you’re using the ‘knee’ setting to your fullest advantage!