How To Use an Expander on Bass

When you use an expander on your bass, you can minimize low-end rumble. Here’s how

What is an Expander?

Expanders can be used like gates, reducing the signal levels when the input signal falls below the selected threshold. This setup is commonly referred to as a ‘downward expander’. When using it on low-frequencies it shortens the decay of the bass giving you a tighter sound which helps in a busy mix or arrangement.

Upward Expansion

Expanders can also increase signal levels under the same conditions. This can be useful in bringing out quieter details in a track without increasing signal levels of other parts. This setup is commonly referred to as an ‘upward expander’. I find upward expanders useful to raise the volume or enhance the subtleties of given instruments.

An expander will share similar controls as a compressor – ratio, threshold, attack, release – but adding the range control. For example, a good vocal with a few quite phrases can be corrected with the upward expander, and alleviate the need to otherwise compress the entire track and select some amount of makeup gain to increase the volume in the quieter phrases.

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