The 4 Modes of Compression and Expansion

Covering all forms of Downward and Upward Compression and Downward and Upward Expansion.


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The 4 Modes of Compression and Expansion video tutorial explains how downward and upward compression and downward and upward expansion work and how and when to use them.

Most home studio producers, and even some professionals, are unaware of the various types of compression and expansion modes/types. Downward compression seems to be the ‘go to’ mode for almost all mixing chores and yet there are other modes available to us that are even more potent than the standard downward compressors used to mix and master music.

There are times when expansion will yield far better results than compression and vice versa and the trick is knowing when to use which mode. This video tutorial explains what the modes are how to use them in any given situation.

Downward and Upward compression

The most important thing to remember with downward and upward compression is that BOTH types reduce the dynamic range of the audio being compressed.

A downward compressor reduces gain above the threshold.
An upward compressor raises gain below the threshold.

Downward and Upward Expansion

There are two basic forms of Expansion we use in music production – Upward and Downward Expansion, and the best way to explain them is to compare them to existing processes like a gate and a compressor. Whereas compressors narrow the dynamic range of a signal expansion does the exact opposite and extends the dynamic range. A downward compressor will reduce the audio signal above the threshold whereas an upward compressor will boost the audio signal below the threshold. Both narrow the dynamic range of the audio signal.

Downward expanders reduce the level of an audio signal below the threshold, making quiet sounds quieter. This extends the dynamic range of the audio signal.

Upward expanders boost the level of an audio signal above the threshold, making loud sounds even louder. This extends the dynamic range of the audio signal.

In The 4 Modes of Compression and Expansion video, I use the FabFilter Pro MB compressor to show you how each compression/expansion mode affects the audio. I explain how each mode works and why and when you should use them. I show you what settings to use for the various processes and explain why certain settings work and others don’t.

The plugin used in this video:

FabFilter Pro MB

Topics covered in this video are:

  • The 4 Modes of Compression/Expansion
  • Downward Compression
  • Upward Compression
  • Downward Expansion
  • Upward Expansion
  • Range
  • Timing and Sync
  • Low-end High-End Control
  • MBC – Multiband Compression
  • Transient Control
  • Tips and Tricks

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