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Old 07-15-2019, 10:36 AM   #15
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 1,919

Can a recording compress "naturally"? Can clipping be seen as a crude compression, where the wave is flattened to a single uniform level?
Yes. Analog tape saturation is a unique kind of compression/limiting. Some people use tape saturation plug-ins.*

Tape begins to soft clip (limit) as you go over 0dB. Reel-to-reel machines tend to have quite a bit of headroom so you generally have to "peg the meters" before you start getting something that sounds like distortion. Of course, cassettes don't have as much headroom.

Then there's NAB (or similar) equalization which boosts the highs and cuts the lows during recording, then and cuts the highs and boosts the lows during playback. The result is further "softening" of the distortion harmonics . And, you can get a net-loss of highs if you "over-saturate".

Guitar players often drive the guitar amp into saturation. It gives a (sometimes pleasing) distortion effect plus compression. And the compression results in more sustain.

* I can understand using a tape saturation plug-in, but I DON'T like the idea of simulating the sound of an actual tape deck with hiss, etc.
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