Signal processing equipment can be tricky to figure out at first, but we’ve broken it down into its most basic parts to help you choose what’s best for you.

Choosing Signal Processing Equipment for Your Sound

Equalizers amplify or decrease the energy in specific frequency ranges by using filter circuits. Basically, this allows you to hone and sharpen your sound to create your own unique effect. There are two kinds. Graphic equalizers give you a graphic display of its settings. These use sliders instead of knobs so that you know at a glance exactly where all of your settings are.

Parametric equalizers are better for situations where the sound engineer wants to have extreme control over every aspect of the sound. Parametric equalizers control the gain, or frequencies being amplified or cut, and the frequency.

Compressors control the dynamic range of whatever sound you’re engineering. Compressors allow DJs to edit sounds by reducing higher or lower frequencies in order to optimize the clarity of a sound and prevent distortion.

Limiters are somewhat similar, but their main function is to stop a signal path from going over a set level. For example, if you’re layering instruments and vocals, and you want the vocals to only be a background element, you can use a limiter to ensure that they never get louder than the level  you set. This can also protect your other gear from distortion-related damage

Noise gates are another useful signal processing tool, mostly for equipment not in use: they automatically cut sound from mics or input sources that aren’t being used.

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