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Upward compression, downward compression, and expansion

Downward compression, upward compression, expansion. and it’s to get these mixed up. But I hope you’ll forgive me if I try to simplify this in about 30 seconds.


All three are form of dynamics processing. They are changing how loud or soft something is overtime.

Expansion is it easiest. Think of a noise gate. When the level falls below the threshold, we make it go even lower frequently to the point where we cut it completely.


Downward compression is just regular old compression. When the level goes above the threshold, we start turning it down.


Someone probably once told you that compression makes the loud stuff quieter and the quiet stuff louder. And while that’s sort of true, it’s misleading. Once we turn the loud stuff down, we can then turn everything up a little. That’s what makes your quiet stuff louder.


Upward compression is literally the opposite. Anything below the threshold, we turn up a little.

So what’s the difference between upward and downward? Think about it in terms of what gets left unaltered: the loud stuff or the quiet stuff? With downward compression, you are leaving the stuff below the threshold alone and re-shaping the peaks. With upward compression you are leaving the peaks the way they are, and reaping things when they are quiet.

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