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What is the PRACTICAL use of an expander?
Old 4th November 2011
  #1
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Cursed Lemon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What is the PRACTICAL use of an expander?

So, expanders.

They're the opposite of compressors.

After all this time I really STILL can't find an actual use for them.

What are expanders typically used on that makes a dramatic difference?
Old 4th November 2011
  #2
Deleted User
Guest
get rid of room ambience on drums...just used it to push down the room sound on a kids choir... gets rid of small buzz in bass track ..
Old 4th November 2011
  #3
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HudHudson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I like using the expander on snare when there's too much hi hat bleed.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Expanders have lots more uses in the analog realm. The most popular use was to kill the drum bleed in tom tracks. Fast and fairly effective, but something much easier to do in a DAW.

Lots of folks would also use a gate keyed to the snare on the room mics to create variations of the Phil Collins "In The Air" drum sound.

I keep two channels of Drawmer 201 around just in case, but they don't see a lot of use.
Old 4th November 2011
  #5
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
So is it just good on drums? What about lowering the room on a vocal?
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #6
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
An expander can lower the room on a vocal track in between the vocal lines. Of course, in a DAW you can do the same thing by either cutting out those sections, or a more gentle method would be to pull the automation down between lines.

Or you could use a plug in gate.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #7
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code green's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
An expander lowers the noise floor. So it is potentially useful in any recording situation where the noise floor (or ambient bleed) is higher than you'd like it to be--when room acoustics are less than ideal, when wishing to reduce amplifier hum, when wishing to reduce mic bleed from other instruments (or parts of a drum kit) in the same room. The potential trade off is that you might end up with unnatural attacks and decays...so, like a compressor, the rule of thumb is that you set it initially so that you can hear it doing its thing, and then gradually back off until just that point where you can't. Unless, that is, you wish to use it to create an audible gating effect.
Old 4th November 2011
  #8
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balanceman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What is the PRACTICAL use of an expander?

I use mild expansion on VoiceOver all the time. You can "punch it up"
nicely if the settings are right.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Guru
I've used my Aphex 612's to un-compress tracks. As long as there's a couple db's to grab onto, it can be effective in un-doing someone's overexuberance.

They won't do that with brick wall compression, nothing to grab onto. The gate functions have been described. I also use the filters on stuff, very helpful.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #10
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
You can think of Expansion as a soft gate.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #11
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theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr ➑️
You can think of Expansion as a soft gate.
And, in fact, a noise gate is an expander, with extreme settings.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #12
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Try an expander after a reverb. It can really make it explode.
Old 4th November 2011
  #13
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
All of the above mentioned uses.
I have found multiband expanders great on film audio when trying to bring out the dialog.
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #14
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Ben B's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Don't forget about upwards expanders. They can add liveliness and punch to tracks.

Most Waves compressors can be used as upwards expanders, if you set the ratio lower than 1:1.

I sometimes like to use Rcomp with a 0.98:1 ratio, fastest attack, on my drum bus, if the player lacks explosiveness. Just lower the threshold, and the drums punch more.

-Ben B
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #15
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Unclenny's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Wow!

Great thread.

One of those frontiers that I have yet to explore.......
Old 4th November 2011
  #16
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon ➑️
So, expanders.

They're the opposite of compressors.

After all this time I really STILL can't find an actual use for them.

What are expanders typically used on that makes a dramatic difference?
for the idiots who do classical cds and want the loud end to shake the baby's crib like a nr 9 earthquake

and for the soft end to be drowned out by the clock ticking

there is absolutely no use for an expander imho
way too much DR as it is
never had too little DR

well - maybe the congress could mandate that commercials be expanded so they wont be so loud on tv - that would be one valid use
Old 4th November 2011 | Show parent
  #17
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
The most common use I have for an expander is as a noise gate to reduce room noise and bleed as well. For me that is enough to consider them extremely useful. Never thought about coupling it with a reverb or other effect to alter those effects, I will be trying that out one of these days soon. Sounds like mucho mucho tweaky goodness!
Old 5th November 2011 | Show parent
  #18
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
Could an expander on a voice channel in a live situation be useful in reducing feedback thru the mic?

Does anyone have relevent experience or comment?
Old 5th November 2011
  #19
Gear Head
 
tobto's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
expander expands )) the dynamic range of a signals. More dynamics mean lowering of noice floor. therefore they sometimes called as noice gates. the beauty of expanders - if they stay in chain as COMP -> EXP they can dramatically expand dynamic nuances of records. (secret)

>Could an expander on a voice channel in a live situation be useful in reducing feedback thru the mic?
sure
Old 5th November 2011 | Show parent
  #20
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
FabFilter Pro-G

I use FabFilter Pro-G in expander mode all the time for mixing drums. It's a very versatile gate. If I want to slam the overheads to get them pumping and this causes the snare to loose it's attach/volume I load up an instance of pro-g (post compression) on the OH, send the snare to it on the sidechain to expand on every snare hit. It's a great way of compressing hard for effect yet maintaining dynamics.

It's also got a wet/dry knob so you can hard gate your snare or toms and mix in a bit of the dry signal meaning you have total control over the decay. Really very cool, and no, I don't work for FabFilter. Just dig that plugin.

Last edited by dj.quash; 5th November 2011 at 08:30 AM.. Reason: missing info
Old 5th November 2011
  #21
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
Very cool thread guys. Thanks for all the great info - paul
Old 5th November 2011 | Show parent
  #22
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
i use expanders to reduce ringing on toms and snare.

i've also used the aphex unit on kick before to completely mess it up to see what happens, adjusting the attack/release completely changes the sound and can be usefull in electronic music.
Old 5th November 2011
  #23
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Cursed Lemon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Now this kind of discussion is what makes Gearslutz awesome.
Old 5th November 2011 | Show parent
  #24
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code green's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny ➑️
Wow!

Great thread.

One of those frontiers that I have yet to explore.......
It's one of the home recorder's best friends--as most of us generally work in less-than-ideal rooms, and often with less-than-ideal gear.
Old 1st May 2012
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
Johanz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I use an expander in parallel on the mastering chain to bring back dynamics in overcompressed sound files, before recompressing them gentle in the Phoenix MC for 'dynamic loudness'. Don't tell anyone, it's one of my exclusive tricks ;-)
Old 4th June 2017
  #26
Gear Head
 
koontzness's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Can anybody offer up a nice expander they'd recommend for use with helping reduce hi-hat and kick bleed from a huge drum set recording? I've got the Waves Platinum Bundle, but that Gate/Expander, Compressor/Expander offering doesn't seem to have all of the parameters that I expected to find on one.

I've seen Sound Radix's Drum Leveler and wonder if that is a good way to go. Seems as though that Digirack Expander/Gate that is standard with PT is good, but I don't see one as straightforward or complete within the Waves Platinum Bundle. Maybe the Fab Filter one is decent...anyone have an opinion?

Thanks,

koontzness
Old 4th June 2017 | Show parent
  #27
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by koontzness ➑️
Can anybody offer up a nice expander they'd recommend for use with helping reduce hi-hat and kick bleed from a huge drum set recording? I've got the Waves Platinum Bundle, but that Gate/Expander, Compressor/Expander offering doesn't seem to have all of the parameters that I expected to find on one.

I've seen Sound Radix's Drum Leveler and wonder if that is a good way to go. Seems as though that Digirack Expander/Gate that is standard with PT is good, but I don't see one as straightforward or complete within the Waves Platinum Bundle. Maybe the Fab Filter one is decent...anyone have an opinion?

Thanks,

koontzness
Have you tried fab filter pro G?
Old 4th June 2017
  #28
ZEF
Registered User
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
the Expander can help reduce background noises without the severe extreme of the Gate chopping effect of severe closed/open gate. The Expander can slightly remove the background noise, attenuating a lower db signal and passes a louder db signal, for example removes background noise while it leaves the announcers voice untouched. (easier said than done) Expanders are amazing inventions only if you need one.

You can hear poor use of Gates on Radio and TV commercials and recordings sometimes when the person talks this loud background noise rushes in with the voice and then chops to dead silent sounding horrible and artificial. An Expander can reduce only the lower db noise floor and leaves the louder signal natural and untouched. A compressor would make the lower signal louder= not wanted! in certain applications.

Hardware- Tracking
I think some of the pro-units like the Symetrix 528/628 etc..Aphex and others seem to have better Expanders because their professional audience of customers are live on TV or live radio on-air or Live Reporting on the scene....so you might want a really good expander on the live signal mic as it can almost eliminate the background noises without effecting the narrating voice/mic signal.

Software- Tracking
Ive a plug-in for example of a not so great expander that blurs the Voice signal as it reduces the background noise, not horrifically but its not as good as my hardware Symetrix Expander.

Software- Mixing later.... a person can sit and remove all the background noise many other ways ITB.

Do you need one? Whats the idle noise DB of your background?
I know in my place with a sensitive condenser mic, the pc fan can get sounding loud, the air conditioner 50 ft away sounds like its under my chair and the fan thats not heard with the naked ear becomes a airplane cessna fan blade volume... a Expander can really help in this situation almost reducing it all and suddenly its like you have this silent studio room, pretty amazing really.

add, imo, they could have named it better like "background noise attenuater"
Old 4th June 2017
  #29
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
Every vo I send out has an expander on it. If I use a gate it sounds like an edit. A properly set expander and you'll never know it's there. I developed my settings doing audiobooks. The end listener has on headphones and there's no music to hide anything. They would hear a gate.
Old 4th June 2017 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEF ➑️
the Expander can help reduce background noises without the severe extreme of the Gate chopping effect of severe closed/open gate. The Expander can slightly remove the background noise, attenuating a lower db signal and passes a louder db signal, for example removes background noise while it leaves the announcers voice untouched. (easier said than done) Expanders are amazing inventions only if you need one.

You can hear poor use of Gates on Radio and TV commercials and recordings sometimes when the person talks this loud background noise rushes in with the voice and then chops to dead silent sounding horrible and artificial. An Expander can reduce only the lower db noise floor and leaves the louder signal natural and untouched. A compressor would make the lower signal louder= not wanted! in certain applications.

Hardware- Tracking
I think some of the pro-units like the Symetrix 528/628 etc..Aphex and others seem to have better Expanders because their professional audience of customers are live on TV or live radio on-air or Live Reporting on the scene....so you might want a really good expander on the live signal mic as it can almost eliminate the background noises without effecting the narrating voice/mic signal.

Software- Tracking
Ive a plug-in for example of a not so great expander that blurs the Voice signal as it reduces the background noise, not horrifically but its not as good as my hardware Symetrix Expander.

Software- Mixing later.... a person can sit and remove all the background noise many other ways ITB.

Do you need one? Whats the idle noise DB of your background?
I know in my place with a sensitive condenser mic, the pc fan can get sounding loud, the air conditioner 50 ft away sounds like its under my chair and the fan thats not heard with the naked ear becomes a airplane cessna fan blade volume... a Expander can really help in this situation almost reducing it all and suddenly its like you have this silent studio room, pretty amazing really.

add, imo, they could have named it better like "background noise attenuater"
Brilliant; you said it better than what I was thinking prior to reading your post.
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