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Saturday, February 11, 2012

HOW TO USE MULTIBAND COMPRESSION WHEN MIXING (free Vst Plugins included)





Hello! Today we're going one step forward on the exploration of some advaced compression techniques (for the Basics of Compression CLICK HERE).

Multiband compressors are nothing but a serie of compressors linked together. They divide the frequency spectrum down into a few areas/slices, depending on how many bands the compressor has (usually from three to five). On most cases, the spectrum is divided into four categories: lows, low mids, high mids and highs.
You can switch a specific frequency spectrum off and on, and you can also determine the frequency range of a specific band, moving it left and right.
For instance, if you want to compress the bass, squash the low mids, ride the high mids and leave the highest frequencies uncompressed it is possible, and all with just one compressor.
Mastering grade multi band compressors can be indispensable tools for reducing the dynamic range of a group of instruments (or the full mix) without modifying excessively the overall sound.
Using this method means that you can work on some areas of your mix without affecting others. Although you may not get the cohesive effect that single band buss compressors achieve it will certainly blend mix elements together on a more surgical way; of course if you feel the need, you can experiment with a mixture of multi-band and single band buss compressors.

Here is a choice of the best FREE multiband VST compressors available (especially the C3 and the Broadcast), and among the others I would suggest REAXCOMP, which is by far the best around.
Here is the Fruity Multiband Compressor, instead, on a page that shows a detailed explaination of the most common controls featured on this kind of plugins.

Here is instead a short example of settings for a 5 band Multiband Compressor:

LOW - tighten up bottom end.
Frequency Range: 0Hz-150Hz
Ratio: 2.5:1
Attack: 20ms
Release: 150ms
Threshold: very low to almost always trigger compression.
Gain: make up gain lost in compression.

LOW MID - tighten up the mix.
Frequency Range: 150Hz-600Hz
Ratio: 3:1
Attack: 20ms
Release: 150ms
Threshold: trigger regularly, but be about 2dB below the point of
rarely triggering.
Gain: make up for compression, or just a little more for warmth.

MID - add punch to the mix.
Frequency Range: 600Hz-1.5Hz
Ratio: 6:1
Attack: 10ms
Release: 150ms
Threshold: set fairly low to almost always trigger compression.
Gain: add 4-6dB or more to make up lost gain and add guts.

MID HI - add presence and increased clarity of individual instruments.
Frequency Range: 1.5KHz-6Hz
Ratio: 3:1
Attack: 10ms
Release: 150ms
Threshold: trigger regularly, but be about 2dB below the point of
rarely triggering.
Gain: add 1-3dB for presence/clarity.

HI - reduce harshness without losing sparkle
Frequency Range: 6KHz-15Hz
Ratio: 2:1
Attack: 10ms
Release: 150ms
Threshold: only trigger when harshness present.
Gain: maybe add 1-2dB to recover sparkle lost in compression.

Gain after each band of compression can be used to shape the sound.

(source:  http://www.dogsonacid.com/showthread.php?threadid=25008 ).

And here is the setting that the world class producer Andy Sneap suggest to use on Heavy Metal guitars, with the Waves C4 Multiband Compressor:  Bypass all bands except one that goes from 65hz to 281hz,
Gain: +0.3
Range: -8.0
Attack: 16.03
Release: 25
Threshold: -26.5

This setting helps taming the lows in the "mud area".

Multiband compression is used much more in mastering than mixing (CLICK HERE FOR AN ARTICLE ABOUT USING MULTIBAND COMPRESSION IN MASTERING). Since we are dealing with such a wide blend of sources on a master track, some mastering engineers use multiband compression to control certain aspects of a mix, like only tightening up the low end for a punchier bass sound, but multiband compressors can be also found used for drumkits, or vocals.

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