Recording technology gives us a lot of different methods for getting the sounds you want into the finished project, as well as removing the sounds you don't. This is all made possible through signal processing. A signal processor is used during the pre-mixing and mixing phases of the recoding process and during set up for instrument recording. Signal processing can be best defined as the conjunction of what must be done in order to turn the sound if the instruments used into a sound wave and the way to mix on order to get the best results from each instrument. Read on for some basic signal processors you should be familiar with.
Equalization - popularly known as EQ, these are used extensively in the process of recording. The idea of EQ us to make a balance between the frequency ranges of different instruments (or not, if that's the effect you want). EQ processing is built into most mixing boards, in software and there are also standalone EQ units.
Filters - Filtering is used to remove sounds that you don't want in your recording. If there is hiss or buzz which you can't get rid of by other means, you can filter these sounds out of your recording. You can do this with software by isolating the sound wave and digitally recalculating the sound alone.
Reverberation - Known as reverb for short, this is generally added after recording the instruments. Reverb adds resonance to the instruments which may have been missing form the original recording. This is an effect which works best on clearly recorded sounds which need a little extra something.
Delay - Delay is used to add an echo effect by signal processors. There are a lot of different types of delay available, from a simulation of different room sizes to delayed attack. You can use delay to create many interesting effects in your recordings.
Dynamic Processing - Dynamic Processing covers a range of different things, all of which are done at the beginning of the recording process. The first is compression, which limits the peaks of the wave, keeping it in the middle of its dynamic frequency range. Next is expansion, which as you may have guessed has the opposite effect. Limiting is third and is essentially the opposite of echo and reverb. The last kind of dynamic processing commonly used is noise gates, which prevent some sounds from being recorded, especially resonance from the instruments.
Noise Reduction - Noise reduction is something which is usually done several times throughout the recording process and acts to dampen unwanted sounds; including limiting highs and lows which you do not want in your finished recording.
These are the most important signal processors used in the process of recording and can help you get exactly the sound you want for your recordings. Through the use of these different signal processing components, you can get the perfect recording every time.
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com , a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.