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Explain to me...?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Son of Bovril, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Can someone please explain to me what is the difference between a gate, a compressor and a limiter?
  2. mad.mick


    Nov 21, 2004
    A gate is an expander, that is, it expands (increases) differences in the dynamics of a signal. In the case of a gate, it turns the signal to zero when it drops below a certain value. Used for noise reduction: since hissing is typically lower in level than your signal, you set the threshold to a value above the hissing level, but below the signal level. Then, when you play, the gate opens and when you don't, the gate closes, and the hissing is gone. Another use would be on snare drum with reverb, like in "Born In The USA" by Springsteen.

    A compressor decreases dynamic differences in a signal. It makes the louder parts less loud, above a certain threshold and with a certain ratio. More specifically, above the threshold value amplification is not 1:1 (unity) but 1:x, where x > 1. Since your signal now is less loud, you can turn it up and what you get is a mor even signal with higher apparent loudness.

    A limiter is nothing but a compressor with a fixed ratio set to 1:infinity. That means above the threshold value it doesn't get any louder. Mainly used for power amp and speaker protection.
  3. thanx mad.mick - can anyone comment on the DBX 166XL for use with bass? is it a good compressor/limiter/gate?
  4. I guess no one can comment on the DBX 166XL then?
  5. ah, I can't comment specifically on that model, but the DBX 160 range of compressors are considered to be among the best and most popular compressors around if that helps.

    I use a minicomp, which is the same circuitry as the 160 range, but cut down and in an unusual, floor/table type of package.
  6. I've also heard great things about the 160 range, what I want to know is about the slightly cheaper 166 range?
  7. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Good descriptions but I don't think that a gate qualifies as an expander. An expander takes a small increase in change and turns it into a larger increase. A gate is like a backwards compressor. It limits the dynamic range of the signal, but it does it by keeping the gain at 0 until a threshold is reached. That is still dynamic range compression, not expansion. Otherwise.... excellent response.