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What is the Diode Bridge Compressor and How it Works


Diode-Bridge Compressor: A Comprehensive Guide to its Functionality

A diode-bridge compressor is a unique type of dynamic range processor, valued for its distinctive sound and characteristics. It operates by employing a diode bridge circuit to control the gain of an audio signal based on its amplitude. This detailed explanation of the diode-bridge compressor functionality will be divided into sections and headers for easy understanding.


Basic Components of a Diode-Bridge Compressor

  1. Input Stage: This stage receives the incoming audio signal and prepares it for further processing. This may include input buffering and impedance matching.
  2. Side-chain: The side-chain is responsible for detecting the level of the input signal and generating a control voltage proportional to the amplitude. This control voltage is then used to modulate the diode bridge’s gain reduction.
  3. Diode Bridge: The core of the diode-bridge compressor, the diode bridge circuit adjusts the gain of the audio signal based on the control voltage received from the side-chain. As the control voltage increases, the gain decreases, and vice versa.
  4. Output Stage: The output stage receives the gain-adjusted audio signal from the diode bridge and buffers it before sending it to the output.


Key Parameters of a Diode-Bridge Compressor

  1. Threshold: The level at which compression begins. When the input signal’s amplitude exceeds the threshold, a gain reduction is applied.
  2. Ratio: Determines the degree of compression applied to the input signal. A higher ratio results in greater compression, while a lower ratio yields more subtle effects.
  3. Attack: The time it takes for the compressor to respond and begin reducing gain once the input signal exceeds the threshold.
  4. Release: The time it takes for the compressor to stop reducing gain and return to its initial state after the input signal drops below the threshold.
  5. Make-up Gain: Used to compensate for the volume reduction caused by compression, make-up gain restores the output signal’s overall level.


How a Diode-Bridge Compressor Works

  1. Signal Detection: The input stage receives the audio signal and sends it to the side-chain. The side-chain detects the signal’s amplitude and generates a control voltage based on the threshold and ratio settings.
  2. Gain Reduction: The diode bridge adjusts the gain of the input signal in response to the control voltage from the side-chain. When the signal’s amplitude exceeds the threshold, the diode bridge reduces gain according to the compressor’s attack and ratio settings.
  3. Release and Make-up Gain: Once the input signal falls below the threshold, the diode bridge begins to restore the gain according to the release setting. The make-up gain compensates for any volume reduction caused by the compression process, ensuring a consistent output level.

In summary, a diode-bridge compressor works by controlling the gain of an audio signal based on its amplitude, using a diode bridge circuit. This distinct design results in a unique sound and character, making diode-bridge compressors highly sought after for their sonic qualities and ability to shape audio dynamics.




By Bart Hrk

By Bart Hrk

Analog Design Engineer - HRK Founder