A dynamics processor helps control the level (volume) of your audio. When set up correctly, it does this in a transparent way, not making hugely noticeable alterations to the sound, but nevertheless giving you the control that you may need. Radio stations, television stations, pro club DJs, etc, use dynamics processors.
Note: The Dynamics Processor custom settings feature is available in OtsTurntables Silver or Pro. For license details click here.
With OtsTurntables you receive a fully fledged, pro-quality dynamics processor comprising AGC, compressor and limiter. Full control is given to each of the characteristics of each processor section. You can duplicate a squashy or punchy radio sound if you like, but you can also obtain smooth, consistent audio that is not noticeably altered from the original. Whatever your requirements are at anytime, you can quickly adjust the settings and your levels will be handled professionally.
For an understanding of how the Ots Labs Dynamics Processor can help you click here.
Ever noticed how CDs often vary greatly in volume? You have the volume set just perfectly, then another song comes on from another CD and it's either way too loud, or too quiet. A dynamics processor handles this problem with style.
If you have background music playing in an office environment, or music during dinner, etc, that is not supposed to be too all-encompassing, then dynamics can present a problem. You want the music to be heard, but not annoying, or distracting to conversation. The normal dynamic range of a CD is almost as high as that of the human ear. CDs are mastered by audio engineers to sound great when you are fully focused and the music is the centre of your attention. We don't always listen to music in this context however, and therefore there are many situations where a dynamics processor is of tremendous benefit.
If you DJ through pro-quality gear, then the last thing you want to do is "blow up" your amp or speakers by inadvertently emitting levels that are too high. Even a short burst of audio that clips badly can destroy high-end speakers in a matter of seconds. With OtsDJ you need never fear this scenario.
If you have an audio setup in your car, you may notice that because of the high road noise, etc, that you are continually turning the quieter parts of songs up. If you are doing this, then you need a dynamics processor. As stated, radio stations, as do all broadcast networks, use dynamics processing to their advantage. A large percentage of the radio stations' audience are people driving in cars. You may have noticed how "compressed" music on the radio sounds compared to the original CD.
To find the Ots Labs Dynamics Processor dialog box click on the in the OtsTurntables window.
Ots Labs Dynamics Processor dialog box explained
Input gain slider: Adjusts the Input Level into the Dynamics Processor.
Automatic Gain Control button: Enables/Disables the Automatic Gain Control in the Dynamics Processor.
The threshold control sets the dB level, above which, the AGC will actively operate. While the input audio level is below the set threshold level, the AGC will not actively adjust its internal volume control. If the input level remains below the threshold for more than five seconds, the AGC's internal volume control (as can been seen by the yellow marker on the dynamics processor gauge) will slowly center back to 0 dB (no gain). A sensible default for this control is -48 dB.
The target control sets the target dB level at which the AGC will seek. If the input audio level is below the target, then the AGC will raise its internal volume control to approach the target level. If the input audio level is above the target, then the AGC will lower the volume. Think of the target as the level at which you want the audio to be at, and the AGC will seek out this level. You will normally want this control to be set at -18 dB plus whatever value you have for the input gain control on the very left of the dynamics processor. For example, if the input gain is set to +3 dB, then you will want to set the target to -15 dB. This configuration makes the assumption that most input source material has an average level of -18 dB, which is true of most material flowing through the Ots Labs audio pipeline.
The scope control places constraints on the AGC's internal volume control. A scope value of 3 dB will mean that the AGC is only allowed to boost or cut the volume by 3 dB. If this means that it is unable to reach the target value you have set, then so be it, it will go as far as you have allowed it and no further. This is useful for having some light gain control without it getting out of hand if input levels vary too much and you don't want the AGC to make sweeping changes to the volume.
The attack control specifies the rate in seconds at which the AGC will adjust the volume in a downwards direction when seeking the target. A lower value will mean that the loud parts of input material will more quickly be reduced.
The release control is the same as the attack control, except that it dictates the rate of volume adjustment when moving in the upwards direction (raising the volume). For good results you normally want a slower release value than what you use for the attack value. Using good attack and release values for your material or application is part of the secret to obtaining clean and transparent results, while still obtaining the regulation you need.
Compressor button: Enables/Disables the Compressor in the Dynamics Processor.
The threshold control sets the dB level, above which, the Compressor will actively operate. While the input to the Compressor is below the set threshold level, the Compressor will not compress (reduce) the audio flowing through it. A sensible default for this control is -15 dB, but the optimum value really depends on the settings of other controls.
The knee control sets a range (which begins at the threshold point and extends upwards) in which the compression ratio applied is gradually introduced. This type of compression is known as soft-knee compression. If you set the knee to 0 dB, then you are essentially running the Compressor as a hard-knee compressor. Generally you will obtain smoother results by using a knee value (ie. greater than 0 dB). The value you should use depends on other settings and the overall sound you are trying to achieve.
The ratio control is central to a compressor. It sets the amount of compression that occurs when the audio level exceeds the threshold. If the ratio is 2:1, and the audio level exceeds the threshold by 6 dB, then the audio will be reduced by 3 dB. If the ratio was 3:1, then a 6 dB excess would be brought down by 4 dB. If the ratio was 6:1, then a 6 dB excess would be brought down by 5 dB. Therefore the higher the ratio, the greater the amount that excess levels will be reduced by. Bear in mind that if you are using a non-zero knee value, then where you read "exceeds the threshold" in the above description, you should interpret it to mean "exceeds the threshold plus the knee value". What happens throughout the actual knee range is a product of both the specific knee value and the ratio value.
The attack control specifies the rate in milliseconds at which the Compressor will reduce the audio level. A lower value will mean that excesses above the threshold will be more quickly reduced.
The release control is the same as the attack control, except that it dictates the rate of increase of audio levels (when backing off from level reduction, because the audio is now under the threshold). For good results you normally want a slower release value than what you use for the attack value. As with the AGC, using good attack and release values for your material or application is part of the secret to obtaining clean and transparent results, however do not overlook the other Compressor controls, which are equally important.
Limiter button: Enables/Disables the Limiter in the Dynamics Processor.
The Limiter has just one control, threshold. When the audio level is below the threshold value, the Limiter does nothing. When the audio level exceeds the threshold, the Limiter almost instantaneously brings the level down such that it does not exceed the threshold. This prevents clipping distortion. Because the Limiter is much more aggressive in the way that it reduces audio levels (unlike the Compressor), it is better to allow the Compressor to do most of the audio conditioning, and allow the Limiter to be invoked only occassionally, such as when an unusually large change in levels occurs. When correctly set up, or when using the Dynamics Processor presets, this is the case. The Limiter's threshold control should almost always be set to 0 dB. There is no tangible advantage (except if trying to achieve special effects) in using a lower threshold value for the Limiter -- all you are essentially doing is wasting the available dynamic range of your output.
Output gain slider: Adjusts the Output Level out of the Dynamics Processor.
Lounge button: Enables the Lounge Dynamics Processor preset.
DJ button: Enables the DJ Dynamics Processor preset.
Party button: Enables the Party Dynamics Processor preset.
Office button: Enables the Office Dynamics Processor preset.
Radio button: Enables the Radio Dynamics Processor preset.
Fletcher-Munson compensation: (estimate audience dB SPL) options: An advanced setting for compensating for the fact that the human ear has a different frequency "response" depending on the loudness of sound.
For detail on the Dynamics Processor Presets click here.
Dynamics Processor Presets
Dynamics Processor meter explained