Become a member
Become a member
Continuer avec Google

or
Log in
Log in
Se connecter avec Google

or
learning

A First Look at Multiband Compression

A guide to mixing music - Part 39

In this new installment we'll tackle multiband compression during mixdown.

View other articles in this series...

Up to this point we have only discussed full-range (aka full-band) compressors, in other words, processors that apply the exact same compression to the entire frequency range. But there is gear that allows you to compress different areas of the frequency range independently by splitting it into several bands. These multiband compressors are capable of compressing the signal according to different ratio, threshold, make-up gain, attack and release times for each frequency band — and the bands can often be defined by the user. Back in the analog days, this kind of processor was rare and expensive. As a consequence, they were to be found almost exclusively in mastering studios rather than mixing studios. However, digital technology has brought us an array of multiband compressor plug-ins at relatively affordable prices. And it's become much more common to see such processors used at the mixing stage.

Warning!

Before we begin I need to give you the heads up: While multiband compressors allow you to do much more than a traditional compressor, they can also cause a lot of damage and dialing them in is no easy task. What's more, remember that ─ before the digital era began ─ 99.9% of the songs used to be mixed without such tools, so there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do fine with a good old full-range compressor. Hence, I recommend you to use multiband compression only when really needed.

What for?

In essence, a multiband compressor allows you to compress a signal according to different frequency zones. Thus, it's better to use this type of processor on signals whose frequency bands require special needs in terms of dynamics processing. Yes, I know, it seems obvious. However, this is often overlooked by beginners, which leads to poor decision-making. I'll use a couple of practical examples to make my point clearer.

It might, for instance, be effective to use a multiband compressor on a kick drum when you want to give it more punch. As we saw in a previous article, you need a quick attack time to achieve a punchy sound. Yet, the faster the attack, the easier it is to end up with an aesthetically unpleasant distortion in the low end. In fact, since the wavelength of low frequencies are very long, they don't respond too well to short attack times. That's why an adequately set multiband compressor, with a short attack time to get punch in the mids/high mids and a longer attack time to control the lows, can yield very good results.

Another way to use a multiband compressor is as a de-esser on vocals. By compressing the frequency range where sibilant sounds are found ─ usually between 4kHz and 7kHz ─ while leaving the rest of the signal intact, you can get results that are just as convincing as if you were to use a dedicated processor.

Along the same lines, you can attenuate an unpleasant resonance that is only present on a given instrument during certain moments by targeting that frequency band and setting the threshold in a way that the compression is only triggered when you want it.

Finally, a multiband compressor with external sidechain can prove great to make the kick and bass blend better together, even in the most difficult situations. To achieve that, you need to proceed as described in the article dedicated to sidechain compression but aiming only at the low end of the bass. Thus, with every hit, the bass will make some room for the kick, but the note of the bass won't disappear completely since the rest of the signal remains intact.

Next week we'll see how to dial in a multiband compressor.

← Previous article in this series:
Compression as Glue
Next article in this series:
Dialing in a Multiband Compressor →

Vous souhaitez réagir à cet article ?

Log in
Become a member
cookies

We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.