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Jargon Busting: Clipping

Harsh type of distortion created when a signal tries to exceed it’s maximum given level.

Clipping is a form of waveform distortion it occurs when an amplifier is overdriven.

The term ‘clipping’ is given to the sound being ‘cut’ or ‘clipped’ when it exceeds an amplifiers maximum volume.

This extra signal which goes beyond the amplifiers capability is simply cut off, this results in a sine wave becoming a distorted square wave waveform.

When clipping is used the notes that it’s applied to will in some cases lose their ‘decay’ time creating a ‘sustain’ effect.

There is also the effect of the notes sounding ‘compressed’ this is due to the fact that all the notes are clipping at the same volume.

Be careful when clipping a sound or track, it’s impossible to fix.

When recording at excessive volumes clipping can occur which will occur as clicks, glithes and crackles.

Pull back on the volume levels of your recording equipment – best to record a quieter cleaner signal and boost afterwards than to have a very ‘hot’ track that needs attention afterwards.

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