At Sweetwater, we've seen the steady shift in the live sound world, as modern audiences expect more and more studio magic onstage. That's why we've always stayed on the cutting edge of live sound processing, offering the up-to-date analog and digital gear you need to get the most from your PA and make every performance pop. Smooth out your sound with dynamics processors such as compressors and expanders, and enhance any performance with the perfect touch of reverb or sonic enhancement. You can even manage every aspect of your PA, from feedback suppression to automatic acoustic tuning, all with the live sound processing gear you'll find here at Sweetwater.
Dynamics are among the first things any live sound engineer needs to take into account, whether you're trying to polish up great sound or get basic sound-reinforcement challenges under control. Compressors and limiters both go a long way toward giving your sound a professional edge. Compressors are perfect for individual channels - particularly for vocals, where sudden runaway volumes can cause everything from ugly sound to uglier feedback. A limiter on the output, on the other hand, can prevent level spikes from overloading your amps.
On the flip side, if you deal with noise or out-of-control stage volume muddying up your sound, then investing in an expander/gate or two could save you a lot of headaches. Many of the live sound techs at Sweetwater use these noise fighting tools on drums and guitar cabinets to cut off or cut down signal from mics when they aren't in use. When all else fails, however, you're going to want to have a reliable feedback reduction processor at the end of your signal path. These amazing devices suppress shrieks and squeals that take out even the best PA rig, ruining your show and possibly causing permanent damage to your gear.
You can prevent feedback from being an issue with the right graphic EQs in place. A staple of live sound processing for generations, graphic EQ divides up incoming signal into individual frequency bands - typically 15 or 31, depending on how precise you want to get. You can adjust only these specific bands, bringing down problem frequencies or making dead zones in your venue. Conversely, parametric EQs provide you with the kind of focused frequency control you normally see on studio mixers. If you want to get studio-quality vocals onstage, then adding a parametric EQ or two to your rig will help you get there.
Once you have all the essential dynamics and frequency adjustments under control, it's time to get creative. Sweetwater offers an excellent selection of reverb, effects, exciters, and enhancers that all do a great job adding sparkle and shine to your live sound. If your sound is a bit too dry, then a digital reverb or multi-effects processor is a great addition to your rig. Both can make a small and dull room sound like a wide open space. At the same time, less-than-ideal acoustics can make it hard for some sounds to cut through the mix or leave the entire mix sounding dull, no matter what you do with your EQs. In that case, a bit of harmonic stimulation courtesy of an exciter or enhancer is an ideal solution.
Each of the processors and effects we've covered so far can be a valuable investment on its own, but you can also get a ton of bang for the buck with the right PA management processor. Popularized by pioneers such as dbx, whose DriveRack series has been a staple of the live sound world since the early 2000s, all-in-one PA management processors cover everything from dynamics and EQ to feedback suppression and often even speaker delay. With a minimal effort, a PA management system can spell the difference between mediocre and professional sound.
As you can see, there are plenty of effective ways to improve your live sound system. With options such as extended financing and 3 Easy Payments, Sweetwater makes it easy to give your PA rig the upgrades it needs.
Questions about Live Sound Processing?
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.