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multiband compression

Member for

21 years 3 months
Hello All,
I am relatively new to the whole recording arena and am soaking up as much as I can. I am faced with a new obstacle now - multiband compression.
I am at the mastering point of production. I have a tightly recorded and mixed song that sounds pretty balanced to me and the people I know with recording experience.
I want to go the extra mile and make the music that much tighter without compromising my high/low sounds in my music. You get the picture.
My problem is figuring out what to compress in an overall mix. With individual instruments, compression is a breeze, but when it is all mixed down and in stereo - I am at a loss. Any tips or preferences to further my education of this subject would help tremendously.

What types of sounds am I trying to compress with a multiband compressor. I understand how they work and what they do, but when I go to solo a band on a stereo track to compress something, I am clueless. Can someone help me out with what is good to compress and what isn't. Thanks.


Member for

17 years 4 months

Massive Mastering Wed, 12/29/2004 - 18:40
If you have a nice sounding mix to begin with, don't ruin it by throwing a MBC on it.

Every single track is unique, and there really isn't any particular starting point. Start with a long attack and long release and work from there. Save the MBC for when there's a specific problem that nothing else will fix.

Member for

4 years 8 months

Javier Wed, 12/29/2004 - 19:03
Amnmitchem: I have found multiband compression very useful for controlling very low frequencies in the bass. I tune the compressor for a band between 35Hz and 70Hz. I set the ratio at 10:1 (almost limiting) and then I solo that band and start moving the threshold control down until softest notes barely generate any gain reduction while the loudest ones get chopped off. It ends up in a very even response. Then I adjust to taste with the make up gain control. Settings of the attack and release controls depend on the type of music. Hope this helps.

Member for

20 years 9 months

AudioGaff Wed, 12/29/2004 - 21:23
Why is that you think you need or want to use Multiband compression? Tightness? Sorry, but the true source of tightness comes from the performance, arrangement, blending of tones. Compression is not the be all of making something more tight. True, as a tool compression can help or enhance, but many believe and try to use compression as the fix and it serves as a band aid.

Multiband compression in the hands of a novice can do more harm than good and you've already mentioned that your still a novice. And if you at this stage already think using compression on instruments is a breeze, I'd very much doubt as well as question your use and results as compression is a really BIG milestone to understand, control and master the use of. Even more so today than 10 years ago as compression is the most mis-understood, overused and abused signal processing step being done in modern recordings.

Go ahead and play, but just keep your expectations within reason of your skills and experience.

Member for

19 years 11 months

Davedog Thu, 12/30/2004 - 00:45
Compression will most certainly,if used incorrectly, accentuate any serious mistake ... not that ANY mix is a mistake....after all, they're the performance of that moment.,,,,so squeeze the crap out-of-it and if you dont like it be sure that you backed up the last mix....not all Mastered mixes have multi-band compression on them...Its all dependant on your mix as to whether you're gonna need to control a particular range of equalization.....If you try adding it and it suddenly kicks yer ass then its the right thing!

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sat, 01/01/2005 - 18:36
i'm no fulltime mastering engineer, but i've gotten by mastering some DnB records with and without multiband compression.

everything anyone has said here is pretty much true,,, it's kinda like asking how to use a swiss army knife... well, what are you trying to do with it???

well,,, someone may scold me for this,,, but here is my thought process on the times i've used one.

here goes:

1. closely look at a high detailed RTA of the whole song several times

2. depending on how many bands you have(usually 3 or 4), find the separation frequencies that best serve this song.

3. squash the whole mix on one band first so you can really hear what the compresser is doing. then you can set a decent attack and release ideal for the groove.

4. there you can set each band to those att/rel times FOR STARTING OUT,,, then you isolate each band and fine tune the att/rel from there... then you find a close to right threshold/ratio/(knee)/etc? for the band,,,

5. then you repeat that for each band and get close to what you're after.

6. look at an RTA while you do this too,,, and constantly compare to the bypassed signal as well.. it's also good to take a song of the same instrument set and tempo if possible and look at it through the same RTA. (there's no perfect way it will look,, but you should be able to tell if something is TERRIBLY different from the average,, you might want to backtrack and correct).

7. it goes on forever man,,,, constantly compare with other music that's already been through the Bullshit and see what you stuff lacks/ and don't feel discouraged,, cause even the best will tell you they suck compared to ***** ******** ( whoever they think is the best)

oh yeah,,, and put a big sign over your screen that says "DON'T OVER-DO IT MAN!!!!" jk,, but you don't want to over do it...

OK,, all you people who know better,, PLEASE SPEAK... cause i'd rather not remain ingorant.. there's a million ways to do anything,, but it's best to know 'em all. :wink:

Member for

18 years

TanTan Mon, 01/03/2005 - 06:09
In rockdance music i'm sometimes using low end compression as well , if the mix is good and the bass drum and the bass guitar aren't conflicting i'm looking for the sweet side chain spot (shelf on low end) when i start to hear the bass drum it depends on which kind of music but 60-70Hz is a common spot where the kick drum is noticeable and has realy energy , and i compress it with a 9-20ms attack and 300-400 ms release , depends on the dynamic range of the bass guitar 5-10 ratio and like Javier the soft notes are almost untouched by gain reduction, and i'm givin it make up gain with the compressor or if i want it to be more colorful i'm using my outboard tube eq to balance it , that way the low end is very solid and tight and it's becoming very fat because the "dynamic eq" is controlling the bass in a way you can add some more bass from outboard (i'm using an ms mode custom stereo pultec eqp-1a with an amazing output line amp)than in the original recording , and when you are listening to the master with small speakers (cars for example) you can pull up a few db's more and the speakers is not chocking