Macrodynamics and microdynamics
As a mastering- or mixing engineer it’s important to know all about the concept of dynamics. This could actually refer to different things even when just talking about dynamics in music production and mastering. I’m talking about the difference between micro- and macrodynamics. If a client tells you to change the macrodynamics on a song and you start changing the attack of a compressor to handle the transients, then you are in the completely wrong ballpark. It’s a good idea to have a great communication and really be sure what kind of dynamics really are suggested.
Macrodynamics refers to the difference in dynamics of the different parts of a song. Let’s say you have a very quiet verse that later explode into a very loud chorus, this is a change in the macrodynamics. A dynamic change in different parts of a song i.e. This enhance the timing, power and emotional feeling of the song. This is actually a more important part of the music production and mastering process than many pay attention to.
The microdynamics on the other hand are the short time dynamic changes of audio. For example the handling of transients. This is often what we first think about when we talk about dynamics in audio. The microdynamics are actually hard to manage right but they are very important when looking for that perfect punch in your mix. The percussion and/or the drums are maybe the most important instruments to use dynamics on. to get that perfect "breath" of the song you need to tweak this with care.
But to make it a little confusing, to control these different dynamics you could use a compressor, limiter, expander, gate or even automated volume changes. Both types of dynamics are controlled with the same tools but they are used in completely different ways.
- Short time dynamics
- Handle the Transients
- Often tweaked with attack and release
- Control the pulse and the punch of the mix
- Song part dynamics
- Handle whole parts of songs
- Often tweaked with threshold and automated volume
- Control the power and emotion of the mix