First and foremost, they exist to help balance the dynamics of a performance, making quiet parts louder and louder parts quieter. Additionally, certain compressors provide coloration or saturation with harmonic generation. Whether dynamic control or creating tone is your goal, compressors are essential to any mix. Previous articles have covered some of the best ways to apply compression when making music, but multi-band compression takes things one step further — they provide control that simply is available when using a traditional stereo compressor. Through frequency-specific compression and independently set compression parameters, multi-band compressors are an integral form of processing when mixing and mastering.
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When setting up your multiband compressor, treat it in the same way as normal compression. For more attack and aggression, use a slower attack time. For more thickness, use a fast attack time. Start with a slower release time above 50ms and try to time the release to the tempo of the music. Use a slower release for sustained notes. In general, you should be more conservative with your settings. As singers pronounce different words, change register or add vibrato — the tone of their voice changes.
You can do this by looping the section, applying a narrow 10dB boost on an EQ and moving it around until you notice an increase in volume on the guilty words. This is demonstrated in the video below: Once you have found the guilty frequency range, set one of the bands to target this range. Bypass the other bands. Set the threshold so that the compressor fully engages only when the problem appears. You can use the same technique to control loud breaths without the need to automate them.
Set the threshold so that the compressor only engages when the loud breaths happen. This is an example of using multiband compression like an equalizer. To prevent thinness, however, you need to take a slightly different approach. This time, use it like a compressor. Start by compressing the low end maybe Hz and applying dB of gain reduction. Now set the makeup gain to 2dB. This should make the low end more consistent, especially when the vocalist sings in falsetto.
Experiment with the amount of compression and makeup gain. You can also experiment with the frequency cutoffs, as it will depend on the singer. Female vocalists will probably need a higher range such as Hz. Set one of the bands on your compressor to Hz or higher. Apply 5dB of gain reduction or more — you can be more aggressive with compression on low end instruments.
The low end should now be more consistent and present, but the top end of the bass guitar will sound dynamic and uncompressed. This is powerful. You can make the low end thick and heavy without ruining the dynamics and intricacies of the playing. You can have a full low end while keeping the bass guitar sounding natural! You can fix ringing drums with EQ, but multiband compression is more effective.
Again, find the problematic frequency with an EQ boost. Then compress that range without applying makeup gain. Simple as that.
Free VST multiband compressor plugins
When setting up your multiband compressor, treat it in the same way as normal compression. For more attack and aggression, use a slower attack time. For more thickness, use a fast attack time. Start with a slower release time above 50ms and try to time the release to the tempo of the music. Use a slower release for sustained notes.
5 Best Multiband Compressor Plugins
See this Wiki article on multiband compression for more info. Moving forward, this gives you more control over the different aspects of the sound than standard compressors. For example, in mastering a mix, you may want to reduce the attack transient of a guitar track which occupies a certain portion of the frequency spectrum, while letting the punch of a kick drum get through in another part of the spectrum. When it comes to mixing, one of the many applications of multiband compressor is in vocals.
C6 Multiband Compressor
Love it. The ability to shape large parts of my mix by using subtle multiband compression means I can EQ less, leaving my mix feeling a lot more open and natural. Tonal control and sculpting are effortless. I trigger a band with the dry vocal, usually around kHz, to dip dB when the vocal is on to create a usually unnoticeable, but big enough hole for the vocals to better cut through something like a thick synth wall. It works great on channels from acoustic sources, and on groups as a way to gently shape instrument sections together before hitting the master. It can enhance a fantastically recorded sound, or if needed, it can totally repair and polish up most things I throw at it. I have it on almost every channel in some sidechain mode, allowing channels to smartly correspond with each other and give way only when needed.