DC offset

What is the DC offset?

The DC offset is a direct voltage offset or a direct voltage offset.

DC offset is a characteristic value used in operational amplifiers. It describes the differential input voltage that can be measured at an output voltage of zero. Although the output voltage is zero in this case, there is a minimum DC voltage at the inputs. This low voltage occurs due to tolerances caused by the base current or input currents.

How does DC Offset make its presence felt in music production?

In music production, this can be seen by the waveform not being exactly in the middle of the zero line. In the following figure you can see a slight DC voltage offset.

DC offset in the waveform
DC offset in the waveform

Three things are problematic here:

  1. The amplitude is not balanced on the zero line, but is predominantly on one side more. This results in us having less headroom and for example a Audio compressor or other signal processors cannot behave correctly because there is an unbalanced signal.

  2. The zero line indicates a signal that causes the membrane of our listening device (be it a monitor or headphones) to vibrate. This means that the membrane moves even though no sound arrives.

  3. It can cause “pops” to appear when cutting the audio tracks.

How do I remove DC offset?

To do this we use 2 techniques.

  1. Low Cut at 20 Hz on each track This removes the slightly “thicker” waveform of our zero line (as seen in the image above). The voltage level disappears.
  2. We cut our samples where we detect the DC offset and use the Remove DC Offset function in our DAW. Most DAWs have their own function for this.


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