The Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) compressor is a type of compressor that uses pulse width modulation to control the gain of the signal. This type of compressor has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique sound and flexibility. In this blog post, we will delve into the history of the PWM compressor, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and its applications in music production.
The PWM compressor was first introduced in the 1970s by the company dbx. The dbx 160 was one of the first compressors to use PWM technology, and it quickly became a popular choice among engineers and producers. The PWM technology allowed for fast and accurate gain reduction, which was ideal for controlling the dynamics of a signal. Over the years, other companies like SSL and Empirical Labs have introduced their own versions of the PWM compressor, each with its own unique characteristics.
How it works
The PWM compressor uses pulse width modulation to control the gain of the signal. This means that the compressor is constantly turning the volume up and down in quick succession to reduce the overall volume of the signal. The pulse width modulation is controlled by a sidechain, which monitors the level of the incoming signal and applies gain reduction based on the threshold and ratio settings of the compressor.
The PWM compressor has several advantages over other types of compressors. One of the biggest advantages is its ability to maintain transparency while still controlling the dynamics of the signal. This is because the PWM compressor is able to quickly and accurately adjust the gain without introducing any unwanted artifacts or distortion.
Another advantage of the PWM compressor is its flexibility. Because the compressor is constantly turning the volume up and down, it can be used to create unique rhythmic patterns that can add interest and movement to a mix. Additionally, the PWM compressor can be used for a wide range of applications, including mixing, mastering, and sound design.
While the PWM compressor has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages is its complexity. Because the PWM compressor uses pulse width modulation to control the gain, it requires a lot of processing power to operate. This means that it may not be suitable for use on older or less powerful computers.
Another disadvantage of the PWM compressor is its cost. Because the technology is relatively new and complex, PWM compressors can be quite expensive compared to other types of compressors. This can make it difficult for smaller studios or home producers to afford.
The PWM compressor has a wide range of applications in music production. One of the most common applications is in mixing, where it can be used to control the dynamics of individual tracks or groups of tracks. The PWM compressor can also be used for mastering, where it can be used to add subtle movement and interest to a mix.
Additionally, the PWM compressor can be used for sound design. Because it is able to create unique rhythmic patterns, it can be used to create interesting and complex sound effects that would be difficult to achieve with other types of compressors.
The PWM compressor is a unique and powerful tool for music production. While it has some disadvantages, its advantages make it an attractive option for many producers and engineers. Whether you are mixing, mastering, or doing sound design, the PWM compressor can add a new dimension to your work and help you achieve your creative vision.