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Configure your Channel Strip to be an Analog Console

In this article, we will discuss the various possibilities of routing the plugin chain of any channel of any DAW in our possession.

article by Andrea "Potter" Cristofori

Channel Strip as Console Tutorial


If you have been lucky enough to closely observe a large analog console, you might’ve been frightened by the bulk of buttons and knobs. After observing it calmly and more carefully, you realized that it was "simply" a repetition of the available functions on a single channel, multiplied by the number of available channels.

Focusing on a single channel, it will be noticed, starting from top to bottom, the presence of a VU METER, a GAIN control, a control section of DYNAMIC, a section of EQUALIZATION and FILTERS, AUXILIARY SENDS, PAN control, FADER and the interesting and useful possibility to insert the DYNAMIC before the EQUALIZATION or vice versa.

And here many ask the following question...

Is it better to equalize before checking the dynamics or vice versa?

To answer this question, which involves multiple answers, it is necessary to understand why there are dynamic processors and equalizers.

What does Equalize mean?

Equalization is the process of increasing or decreasing some bands of frequencies with respect to the others. (We should now introduce the topic of frequencies, of Herz, and of human hearing, but I prefer not to talk about it at the moment and promise to talk about it in a future article).

But to make what "equal"?

Historically, equalizers were used for the first time in the telegraph era, when simple electrical impulses in Morse code were sent via cable over long distances. The signal during the journey lost its level, but above all, some bands suffered more than others. Here then, during the path, amplifiers were inserted that had the task of amplifying the signal, especially in the most weakened frequency bands, reporting it "the same" as the original.

But does Equalization only serve to correct?

For a long time, equalizers were used for this application. As time went on, sound engineers began to understand that thanks to equalizers, audio could not only be corrected, but also improved and even creatively shaped to their pleasure. Equalization is a practice that was born around the 1960s and certainly remained until today.

And why do we need a dynamic check?

Also in this case, the dynamic processor, which we could also commonly call the "compressor", was created to solve some problems. (Here the reference unit of measurement is the Decibel, or better known as dB, but even here I would prefer to dedicate the right space in a future article).

We can simply say that the dynamic range audible to the human ear and the constant presence of background noise (even in the quietest studios in the world), led to the invention of a machine that could control the dynamic range of audio. It would exceed the noise of bottom and contain the highest levels of the signal to be able to turn it into an electrical signal more easily manageable, recordable, and playable through the speakers.

But does compressing only serve to correct?

Similar to the history of equalizers, initially it was so, but then the dynamic processor became a creative tool, in the hands of the sound engineer, meant to sculpt and create enjoyable sounds, which led to particular creative techniques, such as parallel compression, or better known as "New York Compression."

So how should these two types of machines be linked together?

There is no general rule, as in all the art of audio production, but you can make some arguments that can lead one to choose the right configuration.

Do we perceive in our sound a problem of missing or excessive frequencies?

In this case, the first processor we will definitely choose to use is an equalizer to correct the problem.

Do we perceive in our sound mainly a problem that has to do with the dynamics of the signal?

In this case, the first processor we will definitely choose to use is a compressor to correct the problem.

In these cases, after correcting the main problem, we can add other machines in sequence, to correct minor problems in sequence, or to create our own sound.

Working digitally in our DAW, we can really reach a multitude of configurations useful to reach our sound such as:

Type 1 configuration

Type 2 configuration

Type 3 configuration

Type 4 configuration

Type 5 configuration

Type 6 configuration

Type 7 configuration

Type 8 compression

And so on...


Finally, remember that it is not always necessary to use such machines, a sound could already work as it recorded or after trimming it. The important thing is that you understand the importance and the process of being able to use these machines and how to place them in your channel strip to get to get the sound you have in mind.

Andrea "Potter" Cristofori
Sound Engineer - Florence - Italy

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