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Multiband Compression

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Birdinator99
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Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 12:50 AM Reply

Would anyone please like to take a stab at explaining multiband compression, in terms of how, when, and if to use it? I've looked at a few tutorials and fumbled my way around a 3-band VST, but it still confuses me. I've read many stories about inexperienced producers completely destroying mixes with this tool, and that makes me hesitant to use it at all. Some people say to avoid it entirely...

Also, I am fairly familiar with "regular" compressors (singleband, I suppose they would be), their use and settings I.E. attack, release, etc...


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Rampant
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 01:05 AM Reply

In its simplest form, multiband compressors basically allow you to compress different frequency ranges a different amount. This is a good thing, because the higher up the frequency spectrum you go, the less compression you can apply before it starts to sound 'bad.'

Multiband compressors are typically used, then, so that you can compress the lower frequencies a lot, a little bit to lower-middle range frequencies, and leaving the higher frequencies uncompressed (or compressed a very small amount), giving you a nice, rich and deep low-end without squashing all of the dynamic range in a track or making everything sound squashed and flat like if you applied a compressor to everything.

I'm sure someone else can give you a more in-depth comment on how and when to use it... as an orchestral composer, I don't use compressors too often since it can effectively eliminate the dynamic range of an orchestra.

Trampzy
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 02:22 AM Reply

OMG after I used the iZotope Multiband compressor (VST).. I haven't used another compressor since!! If you know how to use a compressor, than Rampant's comment gives you basically all you need to know. Single band compressors are alright, but they kinda can kill the track since there's no flexibility to it, but than with the multiband I can get it spot on. You can also get work done alot faster with at least the iZotope multiband, so opposed to spending 20-30 mins trying to perfect the setting, you can get it done spot on in like 10 minutes, with only slight adjustments later. Who would've thought that a multiband could do SO MUCH?!

midimachine
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 02:34 AM Reply

Regular compression is still really useful, though - and all compressors, multiband or not, will impart a different character and feeling to a signal.

I find multiband to be too fiddly for a lot of things, actually. Multiple stages of EQ and (light) compression will give me results which I feel are more than adequate.


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The-iMortal
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 02:37 AM Reply

At 7/22/12 02:22 AM, Trampzy wrote: Who would've thought that a multiband could do SO MUCH?!

I agree. I've just started using multiband compression seriously, and damn, once you know how it works, shit gets good. Here's a handy tip on using iZotope Ozone's multiband compression. Dubspot also has some other youtube vids on Ozone's limiter and harmonic exciter. Really helpful if you don't know much about the software. Hell, I'd probably do one of Dubspot's courses if I had enough money to justify it.

Anyway, back onto multiband compression... Rampant pretty much summed up what a multiband compressor is. I'll give you a tip though: take advantage of the attack and release times... and solo out the bands as you work on them. A nifty trick I've just started doing (kinda similar to that youtube link above), is bussing the drums to multiband compressor, and compressing the low frequencies (20-60hz or thereabouts, whatever sounds good), and applying compressing with a medium attack and release. That way, the low end kick you get out of a sub has a small delay, giving a more full and tidy sound. Of course, this depends on how it sounds with the mix.

Just remember, whenever working with compressors, or anything in music, judge by what you hear, not what you see. Many people may have views such as, to get a professional sound, I must compress this real tight!, and end up compressing more than their ears like it, but because they think having a higher ratio will make their mix sound more pro. That's just one hypothetical example.

Point is, remember that people LISTEN to music - they don't bring out the meters and judge your tracks on the visual data.

Trampzy
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 02:45 AM Reply

At 7/22/12 02:34 AM, midimachine wrote: Regular compression is still really useful, though - and all compressors, multiband or not, will impart a different character and feeling to a signal.

I find multiband to be too fiddly for a lot of things, actually. Multiple stages of EQ and (light) compression will give me results which I feel are more than adequate.

Definitely a good point. A big reason why I'm so obsessed with the multiband is because I spend half my day making soundscapes. The single band would probably be really great with guitar, synth leads, or amazing when tidying up a bass guitar.. but yeah like midimachine said, it'll depend on the characteristics you want.

Birdinator99
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 09:06 PM Reply

Thanks guys; I'm really starting to understand now. I just have one more question.

Say I have a snare drum track, with a single band compressor on it. The snare track, along with the other drum-related tracks, is outputted to a "drum bus", where multiband compression is applied to all of the drums as a single unit. Is it okay to have 2 layers of compression on the snare like this?


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Trampzy
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 09:23 PM Reply

At 7/22/12 09:06 PM, Birdinator99 wrote: Thanks guys; I'm really starting to understand now. I just have one more question.

Say I have a snare drum track, with a single band compressor on it. The snare track, along with the other drum-related tracks, is outputted to a "drum bus", where multiband compression is applied to all of the drums as a single unit. Is it okay to have 2 layers of compression on the snare like this?

Well there's no rules on what you can and cannot do. Honestly if you do it well then there's no reason it shouldn't work. You'd have to try it though, since there's too many variables to say how it would go. Just don't overdo the compression on the snare, since you need something to still compress afterwards; otherwise you'll just be destroying the sample... unless you want a deranged noise, then crank it.

Birdinator99
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 09:40 PM Reply

At 7/22/12 09:23 PM, Trampzy wrote: Well there's no rules on what you can and cannot do. Honestly if you do it well then there's no reason it shouldn't work. You'd have to try it though, since there's too many variables to say how it would go. Just don't overdo the compression on the snare, since you need something to still compress afterwards; otherwise you'll just be destroying the sample... unless you want a deranged noise, then crank it.

The compression is probably in the light-to-medium range on both compressors, so I think I'll be alright. It doesn't sound crushed, just a bit tighter, which I assume is the desired effect (sounds nice). Just making sure.

Thanks again for your help!


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Trampzy
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 22nd, 2012 @ 10:11 PM Reply

At 7/22/12 09:40 PM, Birdinator99 wrote:
The compression is probably in the light-to-medium range on both compressors, so I think I'll be alright. It doesn't sound crushed, just a bit tighter, which I assume is the desired effect (sounds nice). Just making sure.

Thanks again for your help!

Yeah if it got the sound you were looking for, then it's a job well done! and yeah no problem!

The-iMortal
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Response to Multiband Compression Jul. 23rd, 2012 @ 02:37 AM Reply

At 7/22/12 09:06 PM, Birdinator99 wrote: Say I have a snare drum track, with a single band compressor on it. The snare track, along with the other drum-related tracks, is outputted to a "drum bus", where multiband compression is applied to all of the drums as a single unit. Is it okay to have 2 layers of compression on the snare like this?

Like I stated before, judge by what you hear. If it sounds good, it sounds good!