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Science of Compressor Plugins – How to Minimize Distortion

Science of Compressor Plugins – How to Minimize Distortion

The Science of Dynamics Processing – How to minimize distortion.

👉Read the Technical Manuscript:

The video below discusses a peer-reviewed scientific manuscript on how to best minimize distortion when using dynamic processors like compressor and limiter plugins. This is super important to understand if you are mixing or mastering music.

I digest all the scientific jargon for you so it’s easy to learn and understand.

This video below covers:
✅ What distortion is
✅ Linear vs Non-linear distortion
✅ Differences between harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion
✅ How to theoretically set “fast” compressor and limiter plugins to minimize distortion
✅ A real-world demonstration of setting compressor setting on complex audio signals (e.g. an actual song)

My goal was to make this video actionable, so you can try these strategies on your music to minimize potential distortion and compression artifacts.

00:00 – Introduction
00:35 – The Manuscript that is Presented
00:57 – Who Am I?
02:47 – Overview of Presentation
03:37 – What is Distortion
04:50 – Two Types of Distortion
05:59 – Measuring Distortion from Compression – Harmonic Distortion
08:48 – Why do we calculate total harmonic distortion?
09:23 – Definition of a Complex Audio Signal
09:58 – Intermodulation Distortion (IMD)
11:04 – Visualizing Intermodulation Distortion
11:35 – How to Measure Intermodulation Distortion
12:18 – Assumptions and Caveats from Manuscript
14:21 – Measuring Distortion from Harmonic Signals
15:43 – Measuring Distortion from Inharmonic Complex Signals
16:34 – Important Point About Complex Signals
17:01 – How To Minimize Distortion Components?
17:19 – Impact of Compression Ratio on Distortion
18:50 – Impact of Compressor Threshold on Distortion
19:55 – Two Key Takeaways
20:52 – Testing the Findings in the Studio
23:12 – Testing Low Ratio, Low Threshold vs High Ratio, High Threshold
25:25 – Testing Low Threshold Settings for Distortion
27:39 – Waves Compressor that Works Well at Low Thresholds
28:52 – Summary
30:04 – Don’t Forget Your FREE Gift! 🎁


Like this video?



“Evaluating harmonic and intermodulation distortion of mixed signals processed with dynamic range compression”

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About The Author

Bobby Balow

I'm an audio enthusiast, entrepreneur, and owner of Raytown Productions – an online mixing, mastering, and production studio. I love challenging artists and musicians to create art that is honest and resonates with others.


  1. Dr William Campbell

    Wow, how honoured I am to see my work discussed on your YouTube channel. Good to see someone in the music industry applying some of my research findings. I will say that I have progressed the research much further than that and can promise you even better results if you were to move where you apply DRC in the mix chain. If you’re interested, have a look at my PhD thesis; particularly chapter 8:
    All the best, Bill

    • Bobby Balow

      Hey Bill! Congrats on the PhD 🙂 I’ll definitely check out your thesis. Thanks for sharing!


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