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Author Topic: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand  (Read 1322 times)

Jon Brunskill

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2018, 05:47:46 am »

This is probably a dumb question, but what is the difference between using an expander and a 'gentle' gate?

I never, ever set a gate to mute - I set them for say, 6ish db cut when the sound is below the threshold. It makes sense to me that the kick drum doesn't have to mute in between hits, it just has to duck the volume a little bit, which gives the effect of a tighter sound without the clicky abrupt hard gate sound.

Isn't this what an expander does anyway?
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David Morison

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2018, 08:58:25 am »

This is probably a dumb question, but what is the difference between using an expander and a 'gentle' gate?

I never, ever set a gate to mute - I set them for say, 6ish db cut when the sound is below the threshold. It makes sense to me that the kick drum doesn't have to mute in between hits, it just has to duck the volume a little bit, which gives the effect of a tighter sound without the clicky abrupt hard gate sound.

Isn't this what an expander does anyway?

I'd argue that if a "gate" allows the gain reduction to be tailored that finely, it has already become a downward expander, regardless of what the name on the faceplate/plugin says.

The classic BSS 504 for example only offered a switchable choice of 70 or 20dB range.

Whether or not arguing semantics over nomenclature is worth it or not, is another question.

Bottom line, you've found a way of using the available control to get as smooth & natural sound as possible.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2018, 10:13:36 am »

This is probably a dumb question, but what is the difference between using an expander and a 'gentle' gate?

I never, ever set a gate to mute - I set them for say, 6ish db cut when the sound is below the threshold. It makes sense to me that the kick drum doesn't have to mute in between hits, it just has to duck the volume a little bit, which gives the effect of a tighter sound without the clicky abrupt hard gate sound.

Isn't this what an expander does anyway?
This is getting pedantic and perhaps semantic but a gate is characterized by snapping on/off (even only -6 dB), while an expander smoothly drops X dB per Y dB of signal drop...

Don't worry about the small stuff...

JR

PS: Your -6dB gate could click on a low level sine wave, less likely to be heard clicking on wide band noise.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2018, 12:57:11 pm »

Isn't the ratio and hold the only control difference between the two?

A full-featured gate:
-threshold
-attack
-hold
-release
-depth

A full-featured downward expander:
-threshold
-attack
-release
-ratio
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Art Welter

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2018, 01:57:53 pm »

Isn't the ratio and hold the only control difference between the two?

A full-featured gate:
-threshold
-attack
-hold
-release
-depth

A full-featured downward expander:
-threshold
-attack
-release
-ratio
Nathan,

To be effective, a "full featured" gate also requires frequency filters on the threshold.

The differences between "downward expansion" and "noise gate" can become semantic, like the difference between "compression" and "limiting".
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2018, 02:44:03 pm »

Nathan,

To be effective, a "full featured" gate also requires frequency filters on the threshold.

The differences between "downward expansion" and "noise gate" can become semantic, like the difference between "compression" and "limiting".
first I have also provided adjustable depth on downward expanders but agree too many controls can be counter productive (KISS).  FWIW premium full feature gates can also add some look-ahead delay/anticipation, to open more cleanly.

===

I suspect these days with more such dynamics being performed inside the digital domain there is no significant cost difference between smooth downward expansion and hard noise gating, perhaps some slight processor overhead but that is surely inexpensive. So differences are perhaps in what they call them... ::)

JR
 
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Scott Helmke

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2018, 02:53:23 pm »

The Neve 5045 Primary Source Enhancer, in essence, is a glorified expander with fewer knobs.

The 5045 is a rather interesting item, and very effective at squeezing a few more dB out of a lectern mic.
But when I don't have one of those (most of the time), I use an expander with settings to get roughly the same result. 

On a Yamaha desk it's a very low ratio (1.1:1 or so), and somewhat quick attack and release. The goal is to drop the noise floor between words without it sounding too unnatural.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2018, 02:17:25 pm »

I think the biggest difference between gates and expanders are that it is nearly impossible to get an expander to bounce. We have all probably heard of gate bouncing or gate chatter and perhaps even experienced it. Expanders don't truly mute audio and since some of the functions are different, it is very difficult to get chatter out of them.

I have been using expanders more and more lately for spoken word because you can eek several db more gain before feedback. This combined with a multiband compressor can really get most of the work done before you even touch an EQ. With LAVS this is especially helpful in keeping as much gain as possible and achieving a more natural sound.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Practical use of downward expansion help me understand
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2018, 02:47:38 pm »

I think the biggest difference between gates and expanders are that it is nearly impossible to get an expander to bounce. We have all probably heard of gate bouncing or gate chatter and perhaps even experienced it. Expanders don't truly mute audio and since some of the functions are different, it is very difficult to get chatter out of them.
It is pretty common practice when designing noise gates to add hysteresis to the threshold, so that once open it has to drop several dB more below threshold before closing again. Along with hold time, and slow release this can generally suppress all but the worst gate chatter.   
Quote
I have been using expanders more and more lately for spoken word because you can eek several db more gain before feedback. This combined with a multiband compressor can really get most of the work done before you even touch an EQ. With LAVS this is especially helpful in keeping as much gain as possible and achieving a more natural sound.
I remain apprehensive about adding dynamic gain changes in any audio loop susceptible to feedback. Compression in such a path is notorious for causing feedback when the primary signal drops off and the gain increases. Complementary downward expansion could cancel that compressor gain increase while releasing but may not be easy to coordinate. I think I shared earlier I have incorporated downward expansion inside compressors (transparently) before precisely to thwart the noise floor build up when signal fades, but I never advocated using even them in a monitor path.

I won't argue with you about what works for you, in theory it could improve your results if you are already using a compressor in the same path. It seems you may be mitigating a problem you caused with the compression.

JR

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