Audio dynamics is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of sound, even among many professionals. A dynamics processor is a device (normally costing between $1,000 and $15,000) which can control the dynamics (volume) of audio, instantaneously, based on that audio.
A dynamics processor may also be known as a compressor (no relation to compressing a file to make it occupy less space), a limiter, or an automatic gain control (AGC). Infact, each of these are simply different types of dynamics processors. They all have one thing in common though -- they control or manipulate the volume of the audio that is fed into them.
Radio and television stations physically and legally cannot operate without a dynamics processor. Pro DJs who operate at large venues usually must also send their signal via a dynamics processor before it is amplified and fed to the venue's speaker network. Even all music tracks are processed with a dynamics processor as part of the mastering process before being mass recorded on to CD.
Protect valuable equipment (amps and speakers) from being destroyed from sudden audio peaks or spikes. (Or, for radio stations, prevent over-modulation of the transmitted signal, which would result in interference with other radio services.)
Regulate the volume level so that it never gets too loud or too quiet. This is especially useful for DJs who need to keep the output volume level reasonably consistant.
Allow you to not have to worry about the fact that CDs are recorded at widely varying levels. If a song starts from a CD that is a lot louder than the previous song, the dynamics processor will gracefully ride the levels for you, keeping the output beautifully smooth!
Give you a special sound that you desire, such as a punchy radio sound. Radio stations use dynamics processors to create what they call their "signature sound".
Enable you to get a louder overall level for any particular medium. Because the peaks are compressed, the average sound level is increased. This is why modern CDs often sound much louder than earlier releases. They have been compressed a lot more agressively during the mastering process.
Hopefully you see by now just how important dynamics processors are to audio engineering. What you may not expect is the fact that OtsAV comes fully equipped with an in-built, full broadcast quality, dynamics processor! Remember, these are the devices that cost up to $15,000, and yet you get one included with OtsAV!
This is totally unique to OtsAV! Due to the sheer complexity of designing a decent dynamics processor you won't find any other music mixing program that has one. Not only does OtsAV have one, but it is a full-featured 3-stage (AGC/Compressor/Limiter) unit, giving you the smoothest sound possible.
Click here for a screen-shot image of the OtsAV dynamics processor dialog box. (will open in a new window.)
So how good is our dynamics processor, you ask? Of course the best thing is to try it out for yourself by downloading OtsAV Free Edition, but since you asked, have a look at what others have said:
"the dynamics processor is superb, as good as a stand alone unit at £1000!"
-- Rodney Neill, Manager, Craigavon AV Services, Craigavon, Armagh, Northern Ireland
"The Dynamics processor is one of the best I have heard - this includes dedicated professional processors up to $10k (can't wait till you get the line in function working) - This will give Community Radio stations the ability to have a professional sound without having to blow the years budget on an 'Optimod'."
-- Eric Brodrick, Production Co-ordinator/Technician, Community Radio MAX-FM, Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia
"A full dynamics processor is a brilliant and desperately needed item, as I am sure you are aware of the problems caused by different recording levels on cd's."
-- Ralph Hardwick, Managing Director/Owner, 4RT, Southport, Merseyside, UK
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