Expanders – Dynamic Processors That are Not Compressors (2023)

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If you don’t know a lot about music, you still may be familiar with compression, since is one of the most used dynamic processors in the industry, however, compression isn’t the only dynamic processor that gives you control over audio strength, clarity and dynamic range of the audio.

This article will show you the basics of what a dynamic processor is and which one would be the opposite of a compressor.

If you are looking to learn more about music production and want to have all the basics of mixing in check, then this article is perfect for you!

What is a Dynamic Processor?

Before we talk about the variety of dynamic processors available, it’s important to understand what they are and what they actually do.

A dynamic processor controls the audio power, sharpness, and clarity of tracks. This will have a direct effect on the dynamic range of the audio, which is the difference between the loudest and the softest part of the signal.

With these dynamic processors you can control several aspects of the audio tracks, so let’s check out how many dynamic processors are there and what they do.

Sound Compression and Limiting

It’s very common to have a recording that is quite decent but it has some peaks that may distort the audio, thankfully there are dynamic processors that allow you to control sound and basically make the loud peaks go away while making the quieter sounds clearer.


This is one of the most commonly used in music production and it also holds a very high standard when it comes to pedals for bassists as well as guitarists.

What it does is control volume whenever it goes beyond a certain level which is called the threshold.

The compressor will reduce the peaks and give a clearer sound with a loud and tighter sound.


A limiter doubles down on the function of a compressor, so if you want to increase loudness on the quieter parts of the mix while limiting the peaks with compression, this is what you need.

This is often used in the final steps of mixing, and it’s essential for mastering in order to get the most out of the track in terms of commercial standards.  

The Opposite of Compression

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There are dynamic processors that could be considered to be the opposite of the ones we just listed, and some of these are terribly underrated and less popular than compressors, so let’s have a look at some of these alternative dynamic processors.


The compressor reduces the level of a signal after it breaches a limit or threshold, the expanders, however, reduce the level of signals below that limit.

Upward Expanders

If you want to make the loud sounds even louder then this is what you want. What it does is increase the level of a signal beyond the threshold.


If you want a short explanation, gates are super expanders, meaning that a gate will greatly take away the sounds below the threshold.


If you weren’t familiar with these dynamic processors, then you might want to try some of these out and learn how to use these essential tools properly.

The best way to approach music production is to understand as much as you can about the set of tools that you are given in order to have more freedom with the mix and be able to edit, change and transform the sound that is already recorded into a track that can be distributed and appreciated in the best possible way.