Keith Snyder
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How compressors work

I found myself wanting to explain audio compression to a distinctly non-technical audience (the Dorothy-L mystery discussion list). When I sent the treatise off to my wife, as well, she said I should put it up on Journalscape. So here it is, including the original question by Gar Haywood.

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From: Keith Snyder Date: Sat Sep 13, 2003 10:01:41 AM America/New_York To: Mystery Literature E-conference Subject: Compressors

Gar Haywood wrote:

>Professor Snyder, sir, could you please elaborate?
>What do you hook this "low-end DBX compressor"
>do-hicky up to? Your TV? Your stereo? Do you need a
>home theater set-up to use it, or can it be installed
>on just a cheap little 13" Emerson TV/VCR combo box
>like the one I bought for the living room of my
>Airstream trailer?

PEABODY: Hello, everyone. Peabody here, and this is my boy, Sherman. Speak, Sherman.


PEABODY: Good boy. Sherman, set the Waysmashed Machine to--

SHERMAN: The Waysmashed Machine? What happened to the Wayback Machine?

PEABODY: It's no good for smoothing out uneven sounds.

SHERMAN: Uneven sounds?

PEABODY: Exactly, Sherman. Now, go get an anvil.

PEABODY (voiceover): As Sherman left to get the anvil, I quickly punched the RECORD button on my tape recorder.

SHERMAN (returning): Here's the--

(Peabody whips out a hammer and smashes it against the anvil.)


SHERMAN (staggering): Why'd you do that, Mr. Peabody?

PEABODY: Listen again, my boy. (Rewinds the tape recorder and hits PLAY.)

TAPE RECORDER: Here's the-- (KLAANNNGGG!!!) Why'd you do that, Mr. Peabody?

PEABODY: Now what do you notice, Sherman?

SHERMAN: The anvil klang is much louder than my dialogue, Mr. Peabody.

PEABODY: Precisely. Now, feed the recording into the Waysmashed Machine...

(Sound effects: Bip-boo-beep-boo-blip-bleep-ding!)

PEABODY: And presto--

WAYSMASHED MACHINE: "Here's the-- (klang!) Why'd you do that, Mr. Peabody?"

PEABODY: Notice anything, boy?

SHERMAN: The anvil klang is softer now, but my voice is exactly the same volume!

PEABODY: Exactly, Sherman. The Waysmashed Machine smashes the loudest sounds, and only the loudest sounds, down to size.

SHERMAN: Hey, does it work with politicians?

PEABODY: Never you mind, my boy.


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