Audio effects are plentiful in the digital world and there are two primary types of effects; dynamic effects and time-based effects. Dynamic effects include compressors, EQ’s multiband compressors, limiters, dynamic EQ’s and distortion. All of these effects work on amplitude and gain. Time-based effects include reverbs, delays, chorus’, flangers, phasers, and stereo imaging devices. All of these effects use the principle of time and phase of a signal to produce their effects.
Ideally, dynamic effects are used prior to applying time-based effects, however, interesting results can happen from bending these guidelines. Knowing what a compressor does to dynamic range, let’s discuss what a compressor would do if placed directly after a time-based effect such as reverb. Reverb is traditionally designed to be used as enhancement, by placing a sound into a “physical” space that generates room reflections based on the reverb device settings. If I apply a low amount of reverb to a snare drum and then place a compressor after it, my reverb will sound very extreme as the compressor wants to control the loud parts and enhance the quiet parts creating a far more drastic reverb effect.