Non-linearity and Dynamic Range Compressors

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


After equalization and reverb, dynamic range compression is perhaps the most discussed and debated music production process. It can be used during tracking, mixing, and mastering for many technical and creative reasons. This chapter explores four popular compressors that use optical, valve, FET and VCA designs; the compressors are the LA2A, Fairchild, 1176 and dbx165. It details the essential electronic components and aspects of their design that create their unique sonic signatures. With a focus on non-linearity, this study shows how a compressor can impart distortion onto program material and provides measurements and low-level audio features to illustrate the non-linear sonic signature of these seminal compression devices. The chapter will provide professionals and academics with a strong understanding of how these compressors have helped shape the non-linear soundscape of music production.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDistortion in Music Production
Subtitle of host publicationThe Soul of Sonics
EditorsGary Bromham, Austin Moore
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429356841
ISBN (Print)9780367405854, 9780367405878
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023

Publication series

NamePerspectives on Music Production


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  • Towards a Lexicon for Distortion Pedals

    Rice, T. & Moore, A., 12 Jun 2023, Distortion in Music Production : The Soul of Sonics. Bromham, G. & Moore, A. (eds.). 1st ed. Routledge, p. 128-144 17 p. (Perspectives on Music Production ).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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