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The opposite of a compressor. Where a compressor takes a given dynamic change and reduces it, an expander increases it, making changes larger. Expanders are used to “un-do” compression in some circuits (companding). More commonly, expanders are used for noise reduction. In this application (downward expansion), a threshold is set at a level below desired audio signals, but above the noise floor. When signal drops below the threshold, expansion is applied, pushing signal even further down, reducing the level of noise. For example, an expander might be set up with a 1:6 ratio. This means that for every 1 dB of input level change the expander sees, it will output a 6 dB change. When a signal drops below the threshold by 2 dB, the output of the expander will drop by 12 dB, similarly dropping the level of any background noise floor. (See also “Compressor” and “Ratio” in the WFTD archives).

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