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Troubleshooting Dynamics Processing in Adobe Audition

Dynamics processing features are available through all major Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), regardless of what version you’re currently using in your DAW. We’ll cover the basics of dynamic processing so that you can begin your own troubleshooting.

What is Dynamics Processing?

Dynamic processing contains audio editing features like compressors, limiters, expanders, noise gates, and more. Each offers a unique way to improve your audio files. To thoroughly understand what compressors, limiters, expanders, and noise gates do, check out this dynamics processing resource from PreSonus.

Why Use Dynamic Processing?  

Learning to use the features of dynamics processing is an important skill to have, especially when dealing with vocal audio tracks and voice over. Many novice audio engineers rely heavily on the presets made available within their DAW of choice. But presets, while handy to use at the get-go, may hold you back from composing your best audio file if you don’t explore how to customize the recording for your unique voice and sound. Think of presets as a tool in your learning. You can use them as a rough guide to see what kinds of modifications make your recording shine – and then dive in further to customize.

It’s so easy to grow accustomed to using presets, but as updates are made to DAWs, and new versions of the software are released, the available presets may change as well. This is one of many reasons why creating custom templates is an industry best practice. Essentially, you’ll want to make your DAW as efficient as possible by following these steps:

1. Identifying a collection of settings you like and that work for you

2. Creating a session template, which includes:
– Your preferred number of tracks
– Plugins and templates – configured to your preference to enhance your unique sound.
– Naming conventions (for tracks, files, etc)

3. Saving your template

4. Labeling your templates appropriately, such as if you have different ones set up for commercial work, narration, etc

Learning how each component of dynamic processing works will help you avoid leaning too heavily on presets. Learn more about how to leverage presets and how to develop your own custom session templates.

Troubleshooting Dynamics Processing

Play around with the settings of your compressor, limiter, expander, and noise gate. Trial and error is truly the only way to understand the impact that each feature has on an audio file, especially when it comes to how they enhance or detract from the qualities of your own unique voice.

Reading about how each of them technically work will only get you so far. Not until you enable your compression to an extreme point, or set your limiter to a drastically low setting will you experience what they truly do. And that’s a great way to troubleshoot, too; choose what feels like an extreme setting, and work back from there to a more reasonable setting. It’s truly a process of elimination and whittling down to what makes sense.

Though learning to edit audio can feel overwhelming with so many bells and whistles to try out, remember that there was a time when everything was much more manual, laborious, and produced an end result of much lower quality.

Staying Up to Speed With Improvements and Advancements

Another important factor to troubleshooting your dynamics processing is to stay up to speed with the current trends in how each component is being used now. Audio engineers are always finding new ways to employ the components of dynamic processing. And many times, they like to talk about their innovative find. Research some audio editing publications and subscribe to their blogs and YouTube channels to stay up to date on what DAW features are being used in interesting ways.

This introductory video outlines how many components of dynamic processing work. After watching it, consider researching some publications to follow to see how they’re expanding on these core uses.

How Do You Troubleshoot Dynamics Processing?

Do you have tips on how you approach troubleshooting dynamics processing in Adobe Audition? Share your insights with our community in the comments below!

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  • Avatar for John McCann
    John McCann
    July 5, 2009, 4:16 am

    The “Limit Soft w/Boost” presets are as follows. First let’s get you there. In Adobe Audition 1.5 the path would be Effects>Dynamics Processing. In Audition 3 go to Effects>Amplitude and Compression>Dynamics Processing. (Audition 3 names it “Soft Limit”)From there you would click on the “Attack/Release tab and Input the following parameters. Under “Output Gain” put in 4, “Attack Time” is 5, “Release” is 15, Check mark the “Joint Channels”. Below that in the Level Detector box, your input gain should be 0, attack time .5 (Notice I said Point 5, not 5), and release time is 300. Check the “RMS” radio dot and set your lookahead time to 3. Leave the Noise Gate and Create Envelope check boxes unchecked. Now click on the Traditional tab at the top and input these parameters. In the first drop down menu under “Sections” choose “Compress”. Dot the number 2 radio dot and choose “Flat”. Then look under “Ratios”(Audition 3 calls it “Traditional”) and put in 999 (Put in 100 for AA3) and under thresholds and put in -6. Your “Output Compression” should be set at 0. Once these are set, go to the “Presets” box and choose “Add”.(AA3 just shows a little floppy disk icon to save your preset)Type Limit Soft -6db w/boost and then click “OK”.(AA3 lists it as “Soft Limit -6db)Then go back to the Thresholds column and change it to -24, click “Add” and type in “Limit Soft -6db w/boost and click “Add” again. Do this with -18db, -12db and you’ll have the original Adobe Audition 1.5 presets. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. I have Adobe audition 1.5 as well as AA3 and would be happy to help if I can. Good luck,
    John McCann
    Audioeast Recording