Saturday, October 6, 2012

What? Where? Why? Signal Chains...

By Tim Dolbear -

I get asked often about the order of things, specifically during mixing, "what goes first, the compressor or EQ?"  I must say that of course there are exceptions to the rule, but generally the Compressor goes before the EQ, and specifically, you should always setup the Compressor before the EQ. So there is your what and where... but why?

Why? Simply, a compressor will change the tone and EQ curve or your audio. Compressors will operate based on the audio being feed into it, they will compress and change the levels of the frequencies present in the audio, bring louder ranges of frequencies down and bring up the other areas, the more complex the audio, the more the affect.

Take a snare drum as example, compressing it will tend to bring down the 1-2k range which hits at the start of the strike and bring up the low mids which are present in the audio after the transient...  again, a very general setting and a generalization...but the snare will warm up in tone and get fatter sounding.

Thus, placing a compressor first, setting up its dynamics and letting its do its thing to your tone, then, placing an EQ after the compressor and setting it up, dialing it in based on what is coming out of the compressor is the right workflow.

By Tim Dolbear c2012