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Gain/Fader Riding

Also known as “Riding the Faders,” gain riding is the act of constantly monitoring and adjusting gain as necessary during the recording process to prevent overloading the recorder. This is usually performed on the faders of a recording console. Gain riding in essence duplicates the action of a compressor without adding an extra device in the signal path. However, since the sound of compression has become the sound of popular music, gain riding has all but fallen out of use for that purpose. Gain riding is, however, still used as a creative tool. In fact, it is in part responsible for the signature drum sound of the Power Station recording studio, which became popular during the ’80s. Power Station engineers would ride the faders on snare tracks so that the hit on beat two would be louder than the hit on beat four. By emphasizing the natural pulse of 4/4 tempo, wherein beat two is naturally played louder than beat four, musical drive is created. Ironically, this is a compensation for the loss of dynamics introduced by compression.

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