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What the Heck is Bias?

Bias is a critical adjustment that often makes all the difference in the proper operation of analog audio equipment. This article is a non-technical explanation of bias and demonstrates how it is implemented on Korneff Audio plug-ins.

Bias. There are reasons I want to start here, rather than something more elementary like dynamic range or “what is a dB” or some such. If you understand bias, you’ll understand a lot of other concepts, and things like dynamic range and harmonic distortion will actually make more sense when we get to them. And if you understand bias, our plug-ins will make more sense to you, especially since almost all of them have a tweakable bias control on them.


Analog recording equipment is made up of a bunch of components, things like tubes and transistors and transformers, etc. And digital plug-ins are all simulating the characteristics of those analog components.

Generally, in a piece of analog gear, no matter if it is an EQ or a compressor or a mic preamp, the heart of it, the thing that makes it work, is some sort of amplifier. So, for the rest of this article, when I write amplifier or component, I am NOT referring to a guitar amp, or a mic preamp or a stereo power amp; I’m referring to a little circuit thing stuffed down in all the analog gear you will ever run into. A recording console has literally thousands of amplifiers in it.

Amplifiers in equipment can be based on tubes, or on solid state component like transistors or OP amps, or some sort of combination. Obviously, if you’ve got a bunch of amplifiers in a device they’re going to contribute a lot to the sound and character of the device, which is why tube EQs and compressors sound “tubey” and Neve EQ’s sound “Nevey.” The amplifiers inside the gear impart a particular sound.

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