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Voiceover Technology FAQ > Effects and Processing > What is compression and when is it useful or necessary?

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There are two main types of compression in the context of audio.  Dynamic compression and data compression.  Data compression refers to converting a WAV or AIFF file into an MP3 file, which is a compressed version of the WAV.  MP3 a lossy compression in that some of the original audio information is lost in the process, which is why it is generally used only for auditions.  FLAC or Apple Lossless formats also compress the audio data, loosing none of the audio quality, but the files are much larger in comparison, and less widely supported. 

Dynamic compression is the lessening of audio dynamics to create a certain effect or raise the overall perceived volume of the audio in the track.  Generally for the purposes of voiceover, the idea is to bring the volume of the lowest level audio up so that it can be heard more easily in a mix with other signals, such as music or background dialogue.  It is highly recommended that the voice talent recording their audition or final file not use compression at all, unless the client specifically requests it.  When used incorrectly it can ruin your chances of winning a gig, or expose your lack of engineering skills.  You are being paid to provide your recorded voice, as cleanly and un-adulterated as possible.  It is the job of the producer and engineer to modify the sound of your recording for the purposes of their project. 

Last updated on October 11, 2009 by George Whittam