Multiband compression

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by NCdan, May 25, 2008.

  1. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Hello, I play around with home recording, and I recently discovered multiband compression, and I'm wondering how many of you pros use multiband compression on the final mix? I use Audition 3.0, and the multiband compressor has four assignable bands. Assuming all the instruments and vox are fine tuned already, what 4 frequencies would you guys use in a typical "rock" recording (one guitar, bass, drums, vox.), nothing too hardcore. I play mostly punk and some ska, so you might describe the desired final product sound as agressive, yet not heavy, bassy, or dense. Just curious. I'm hoping for some suggestions to try out. Thanks.
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Trust me...

    Do a search on this one.

    Multi-band compressors are not thought of very highly in the mastering world and a LOT has been discussed regarding them on these pages.

  3. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Search for:
    master AND multiband OR compression
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Then search for "maul-the-band compression" --
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    It has its uses. Like cleaning up live recordings to reduce the plosives. Although I understand side chaining might work here, I don't have the software to do that.

    Bearing in mind quality isn't what I have to work with and I don't make a living off this.
  6. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Alrighty, I get the idea that using multiband compression on a master track is, 99% of the time, trying to fix a problem that should have been fixed before recording, like a tighter bass drum or a fatter guitar, however, for those of us who are total DIYers, and do our darndest to get every instrument as perfect as can be, taking days just to dial in that sound, and taking every step to ensure the instruments mix well together, do any of guys think that a small amount of tasteful multiband compression on the master might help make a so-so home recording (no $4,000 mics, compressors, amps, etc... here :p ) just a little bit more pro sounding? At least that's my thought. Maybe when I finish the demo I'm working on in Audition 3.0 I'll have a major label quality product, but you know, I imagine it will more than likely be good for a basic home studio :lol: ... Thanks all for your replies.
  7. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    If you're "DIY" then you should have absolutely no need for it. If you can go back and fix things at the track level and you need maul-the-band treatment of *any* kind (whether dynamics, imaging, etc., etc.) then you should find out why and fix it at the previous stage.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    NCDan -

    The multi-band compressor is a limited-use tool that finds more use destroying mixes in low-level, so-called "cheap" mastering houses because they think it's a piece of equipment found in higher end mastering houses (a fact which marketing geniuses created and shoved down poor saps' throats.)

    The reality is, it will not fix anything that can't be fixed better by some other, more appropriate tool.

    The only use I've ever found for a multi-band compressor is while using the UAD Precision Multi-Band, I can use it as a multiband noise gate or expander, essentially allowing me to remove rumble from soft passages (such as delicate flute solos) while leaving the audio during full-tilt passages alone.

    For this purpose, this particular tool works quite well. If I had paid more than $99 for it, it would have been WAY too much. Thankfully, this particular piece of software does this task quite well and finds regular use.

    Otherwise...nah...I wouldn't touch the stuff.
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    A-M-E-N brother. The UAD PMBC is probably the ultimate frequency-conscious expander on the planet. And the "mix" control takes it even one step further. It's my go-to classical cleaner.
  10. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Thanks guys for the input. The points are definitely valid. I doubt I will end up using multiband compression on any master tracks, although, I do have quieter sections in my music, for example, I have a song that switches to a clean guitar and quiet vocals right in between very heavy sections, and I might try playing around with multiband compression there, as you state Cucco, "I can use it as a multiband noise gate or expander, essentially allowing me to remove rumble from soft passages (such as delicate flute solos) while leaving the audio during full-tilt passages alone." It's nice to be on a forum where I get expert advice rather some 16-year-old's opinion :D .
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    IMO the biggest problem people have with stuff is "I have it. What can I use it on?"

    What was that quote...
    "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
  12. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    That should've been handled in the mix.
  13. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Yes, but when you're a one man band, it can be difficult to really get the volume right on every instrument take. Now I know what you'll say, record multiple takes and take the best parts from them. Well, I'm going for more of an organic sound, so since I have to overdub each instrument already, I try to go for one take all the way through with each instrument. Now, I just do the takes until I get one I really like, but since I don't have amazing filters and noise gates, I get humming and buzzing, which can be a bit noticable during one of the rare quiet sections in my music. So, I thought that I'd take Cucco's advice and see if I could get the multiband compressor to take out the hiss and hum residue in the rare quiet sections of my songs. Am I getting this right?
  14. Greener

    Greener Guest

    It seems to me your hiss and hum comes from your liberal use of limiters, compressors and what not. I'm doubtful you can clean that up using even more.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I still think you're misunderstanding. You're now confusing tracking and mixing.

    Yes, you should aim for as good of a signal as possible while tracking and it can be difficult when you're the player, the engineer, and the janitor.

    However, some things can be fixed (such as hum and hiss) in the mixing phase with corrective EQ, digital de-noise programs, etc.

    In all of these cases, Multi-band compression/limiters are the wrong choice.

    A dynamic EQ (such as the Weiss - probably WAY outside your budget, or the bastardized one in the UAD multi-band) may be a decent bet here, but still, when encountering noise, hiss, buzz on individual instruments' tracks, I never really resort to using such broad, resource intensive tools as a multi-band limiter/comp.

    This reminds me very much of my son - he's 3 and quite amusing.

    He saw me do some work on my drywall when we had a leak in the plumbing in the studio bathroom. I used a drywall saw to cut out some sections of the wall.

    Now, my kid goes around picking up various things that are shaped like a saw (if even only remotely) and poking them at the wall saying "I'm fixing the wall, just like Daddy..." Well, usually he's poking a screwdriver at the wall, or perhaps his little Play-Dough tool, or a fork...

    The moral is, with any one of the tools he's using, he could in fact poke a hole in the wall and make it big enough to fit his hand through to fix plumbing. However, none of the tools is the right tool for the job and none of them will do as well as the tool originally intended for that job.

    Just some thoughts.

  16. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    OK, I'll give up multiband compression, although I do find it handy for giving my drum track a bit of extra sheen :D , and since I record my electronic drums in stereo (which is my only option for a number of reasons), using post recording EQ on the master drum track usually does as much harm as it does good.

    I think most of the hiss and hum comes from the distorted guitar, since I use an overwound p90 with heavy distortion for the intial take on all my guitar tracks, but I do have an analog gate that gets rid of the worst of it. Interesting tool analogy Cucco, and it makes a lot of sense :D . I'd guess the whole reason I considered multiband compression is because of marketing and uneducated "recording engineers" speaking so highly of them. Thanks for all the responses.
  17. cerberus

    cerberus Active Member

    i don't like eq either!
    i think you are perceptive. so you can evaluate multiband
    yourself. whatever is really "wrong" about it, you should

    be able to hear it. it's your music. you know what
    should be in it, and what should not. and how
    it all should go. imo, this is a good time to
    explore and learn. if you have time.

    also you will then understand why people have
    such strong opinons.. a class of
    tool that is said to be
    inherently wrong
    for mastering?

    (we are talking about eq and compression here,
    not reverb, so how can that really be?)

    maybe some designs are bad. i just think it is a tool, sometimes
    it seems the best tool for a job, i think i know what
    i am doing with it. like one who handles a weapon.
    it could be misused, the results could be
    tragic. but weapons can also be useful.

    as for whether it is "good" or "bad"? there is more to it than that, imo.

    jeff dinces

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