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Signal Processing WTF???
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head
megaratch3t's Avatar

Signal Processing WTF???

Ive been amazed by this for forever now and could never find help on it,Can some one explain this to me so that i can use this to record my vocals.
Old 13th September 2011
Here for the gear

I'm making an assumption that this is completely new to you. This will be real easy to comprehend.

"Signal processing" is a term to describe the treatment of a sound source. You most likely work in a digital domain, so we'll start there.

(The Simple Example) So you have a clean guitar track in front of you, and you want it to be really distorted. When you open up a plug-in to distort the sound of the clean guitar, you are processing the signal.

In a nutshell, signal processing is your ability to change and alter the initial sound, thus turning that sound into something different. That being said, it's more complicated than that.

(The Example) So you recorded a vocal that jumps around a lot. It has hard transients; your meters are jumping too much and you want to control the dynamic range of the sound. You open up a compressor to do accomplish this task. In the box, a.k.a your DAW, the processing of the dynamics is handled by algorithms and clever/ingenious programming. At this point, by adjusting the different components on the compressor, you will decrease the dynamic range of the initial signal.

(The Bigger Picture) This may be a little harder to digest. The actual importance of signal processing is not the mere fact that you are changing the initial source. Instead, it is what you choose to "color" the sound with. Using "the example" as an example, an 1176 compressor will have different sonic characteristics than that of an SSL bus compressor. Knowing both what you are looking to change in the initial sound and what will piece of gear will best suit your needs is what will make signal processing a valuable asset in your bag of tricks.

Furthermore, every single piece of equipment in your chain will affect and color your signal. Let us step into the analog domain quickly: your interface's pre-amps will sound different than a $2,000 Neve pre-amp. And that Neve won't sound like an API pre of the same price.

Even smaller components of your system will affect the sound of your signal and the overall sound of your studio, as well: mic cables, power conditioners, your A/D-D/A converters, your word clock. All of these parts play a role in the objective and subjective quality of your sound.

Hope that helped.

- W.E.L. Spoken
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