Audio Engineering & Music Production
Course 14: Dynamic Signal Processing

In audio engineering, dynamic range generally refers to the distance between the loudest possible sound and the quietest possible sound in an audio recording. In a multi-track recording, each constituent track has a unique dynamic range–there is also a “master” or overall dynamic range, which is the total dynamic range of the tracks mixed together into the master bus.

In this course, you’ll learn how compressors are applied to tracks on an individual basis as well as on the master channel (the overall mix). Instruments all have different dynamic ranges, so a compressor is needed to make sure they’ll all fit together. This prevents a guitarist from totally overrunning the vocals during a song.

While learning what a compressor does is a relatively quick process, understanding when, how, and why you are using compression is a lifelong journey that begins with this course. You’ll learn about early compressors, the differences between analog and digital compressors, as well as other dynamic range processor types (expanders and gates).

You’ll learn about the parameters of the processors as well as other compression techniques like de-essing, ducking, pumping, and side-chaining. Your assignment for this course will be to continue to work on your mix, adding dynamic range processing as you see fit to the mix you’ve been working on over the past few courses.


  • Early Compressors
  • Analog vs. Digital
  • Dynamic Processor Types
  • Dynamic Processor Parameters
  • Other Dynamic Processing Methods
  • Mix Assignment Continued
  • Chapter Quiz
  • Blog Entry