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#5: Audio Processing Equipment

By | January 8, 2007

Audio Processing EquipmentThe lights are dim. The studio is dark, except for the pulsating glow of LEDs and VU meters pouncing back and forth. Every time you utter a word, the room comes to life with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and green. You’ve entered the realm of audio processing equipment.

This is actually a very fun topic india tadalafil. If you’re a musician like me, you love audio toys and that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.

For the podcaster, this category is not essential. So keep that in mind as you absorb this information, none of this is mandatory, however it will separate the men from the boys, so to speak. Audio processing at this level or I should say at this phase, means sculpting your audio signal before it gets to the computer. You’re gonna enhance the audio before it gets recorded. The benefits of this would be not having to take the time to apply the same effects every time you produce your podcast. You can also get some truly amazing sound with processing hardware. Let’s look at just some of the main types of processors and I’ll give you a brief rundown of what they’re used for.

Compression

Compressors are used to help you not saturate your recording and over modulate it. Over modulation is distortion. It means that your signal won’t sound clear and clean. For voice, you always want clear and clean. Compressors also help your signal to be more balanced, so that the difference between quiet passages and loud passages won’t be as drastic. With a good quality compressor you can turn the volume up so that quite sounds are still heard, but then louder sounds will be compressed or squashed down and that keeps them more on an even level. Radio stations, and I’m talking AM and FM, generally run through a compressor, they run everything through it from the DJ’s mic, to the music so that you hear everything and you don’t get blasted all of a sudden with a loud song. Another thing that most compressors have is a limiter, and that basically just insures that no matter what, the audio level does not go above a certain point. That’s mostly useful in a live PA setting, but a compressor is a good thing for a podcaster.

EQ

Equalization is our next topic. Since we’re talking chiefly about your voice, this isn’t as tricky as it would be for live sound. You have two options and I’m gonna feature both of them in this same segment. Traditional EQ would be the first option and it involves getting something like a 31-band EQ and tweaking different frequencies to get the sound that you want. You don’t want to over do this though because if you do it will sound fake. For example, don’t try to give yourself an extremely strong bassy voice. On the other hand, if you have a very rich, deep voice, you can accentuate it. Don’t forget to add a bit to the high end and give it some crispiness though. While I’m not gonna be able to show you how one of these units works, I will be showing you how to do it with software and they function essentially the same way.
The second EQ option would be to use something like a Sonic Maximizer, they’re also called Aural Exciters. This is a really nice tool for people who don’t want to fuss with setting all those frequencies manually. Basically, a sonic maximizer analyzes the frequencies that are present in a signal and you tell it what you want to accentuate, usually by just turning a dial. You can give it more punch or more crispness. The sonic maximizer takes the guess work out of it all and gives you a strong, intelligible signal that sounds great. It’s kinda like the loudness button on a stereo, it gives you a tighter low-end and a crisper high-end. If you’re gonna go with a mixer, than definitely consider a sonic maximizer. Besides, it’s something else that has lots of lights on it and it’ll make you look a lot more impressive when you show your friends your studio.
A good quality dual 31-band EQ is gonna be between $150 and $300, while a sonic maximizer is gonna run about the same, $100 to $300. BBE is probably the biggest name in the industry but Behringer is another. Behringer seems to give you fairly decent equipment for a little less than most other manufacturers.

Preamps

One thing that I almost forgot to mention, and it’s actually a pretty important one, is preamps. A preamp is the first thing you plug your mic into. Preamps affect your tone. They have a strong influence on how you sound, tone wise. Again, this is not crucial to your podcast, you can do without any of this stuff, I just wanted to make this fairly comprehensive and make you aware of your options. If you listen to a signal that is processed through a high quality preamp, and one that is not, you will hear the difference. A decent preamp’s gonna be about $300 and they go up to well over $1,000 so again, don’t rush out and buy one but keep it in the back of your mind for when you want to take another step up.

For now, that’s all I’m gonna cover, there are other signal processors out there but those are mostly for live situations or for singing.

 
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