Kicker | Dynamic Range Compression | Owner Manual | Kicker Dynamic Range Compression Owner Manual

Kicker Dynamic Range Compression Owner Manual
Dynamic Range Compression
The word "compression," as it relates to audio, is often misused, overused and even misunderstood.
Likewise, compression itself is often misused, overused and misunderstood. The process of compressing
an audio signal is used in the recording studio, during live performances and in the playback of recorded
music. So then, what is compression? Simply stated, compression, or Dynamic Range Compression, is
the process of reducing loud sounds and amplifying quiet sounds to bring them closer together. A simple
analogy would be turning down the volume on your TV because the commercials are just too darn loud.
The effect can be used to make recordings sound better at low and high listening levels, to make the
quiet passages of music audible in a noisy concert venue or to protect the components in an audio
system. For our purposes, we will focus on using Dynamic Range Compression as a way to protect the
components in an audio playback system.
Let's begin by breaking compression down into five parts: threshold, attack, release, ratio and output
Threshold: The level at which the incoming signal triggers the compressor.
o The threshold is generally set close to the upper limit of the system's capabilities. This is
the point at which we want to reduce the signal to protect speakers from being over
driven. If the threshold is set too low, the compressor will kick in before the system
reaches full potential.
Attack Time: Once the threshold has been reached, attack time determines how quickly the
compressor begins reducing the signal.
o If the attack time is too fast, the transients are eliminated and the music sounds lifeless
and dull. If the attack time is too slow, a crashing cymbal can toast a tweeter or a kick
drum can launch a woofer's cone.
Release Time: Once the signal has been compressed or reduced in level, release time is how long
the compressor maintains this reduction before releasing the signal level to normal or
o A release time that is too fast may allow the compressed signal to return to its speaker
damaging level before the music naturally reduces in level. On the other had, a release
time that is too slow can make a fast paced, articulate bass line sound like one, long,
muddy note.
Ratio: The amount the compressor reduces the original signal, like turning down the TV's
volume when a commercial comes on.
o A compression ratio of five to one would be written as 5:1. If an input signal exceeds the
compressor's threshold by 10 Volts, the output will be reduced to 2 Volts above the
threshold. A ratio of 10:1 or greater is generally referred to as a limiter and prevents the
output from ever going above a set level. This can save the life of many a speaker.
Output Level: A volume control to increase the output of the compressed channel to match the
volume of the other channels.
A compressed signal may need an increased level to balance its output with the rest of
the system.
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