It is also slow to come back to where it started after the loud passage has passed. Additionally, it adds subtle even order harmonics.
Going back to our food analogy, modeling the nice sounding analog compressor digitally is like trying to capture all the subtlety of the vanilla bean. Artificial vanilla has the same basic chemical composition as the real thing, but tends to lack the many subtle additional flavors and aromas that make real vanilla what it is.
Manufacturers offer compressors using inexpensive light dependant resistors for many thousands of dollars. When we run analog audio through digital equivalent, we want the designer to capture all the subtle nuances of our funky analog unit.
Digital designers claim to accurately model the analog world, but just like our lowly vanilla bean, it’s not that easy.
What digital audio equipment most certainly offers is precise control and repeatability. Extensive recall of presets is technically much easier in digital.
Yet some users will still pick analog equipment because quality of sound outweighs the easy life of presets.
In equipment like digital mixing consoles, dynamic and snapshot automation allows the near instantaneous reset of console-wide, complex setups. That can be a particularly useful feature when the front-of-house console is handling multiple acts in quick succession, to offer just one example.
Similarly, on a major tour that is using in-ear monitor systems, which are not greatly affected by the nightly change of venue acoustics, setup times can be drastically reduced. Digital consoles such as those made by DiGiCo, Yamaha and Digidesign offer varying levels of features and price.
Digital processors like the Lake Technologies Contour digital loudspeaker controller let you do things that are otherwise impossible in the analog domain, such as impossibly steep-sided filters and multiple EQ curves stacked one on top of the other.
Alternatively, there is the hybrid approach, digital control of analog circuitry. Several recording console manufacturers experimented with the approach in the early ‘80s, and in the live sound arena, Jim Gamble offers a hybrid console.
Bruce Jackson has been involved with several leading audio companies and mixed Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and Bruce Springsteen, among many others, over the course of his illustrious career. Steve Harvey is a veteran, widely published professional audio journalist.