3-band compressor or 4-band?

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by headchem, Nov 8, 2005.

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  1. headchem

    headchem Guest

    I'd been using a 4-band compressor on everything, but recently I've been reading that most people use a 3-band compressor. Which is good for what type of sound? This is my first post on the forums! I finally got to the point where I need some expert advice on things most people don't know about. w00t for recording.org!
  2. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    1-band rocks!!

    rarely ever use more than 1-band.....

    i sometimes use 3-band comp for vocals though
  3. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Try some upward expansion! :D
  4. 43hertz

    43hertz Guest


    Generally, and I do mean strictly "in general", three and four band compressors are used for the mix bus, which has a larger frequency spectrum than an individual instrument in general.

    One-band comps seem better suited to individual instruments that occupy a narrower frequency spectrum, such as a bass guitar. No real point, to me at least, in occupying a three-band comp,(which are, again, generally of higher quality than most single band comps) to process an instrument that doesn't have much frequency range. YMMV.
    This is not to say that you couldn't use a three- band or four band on a kick drum if it sounds good. A four-band comp simply gives you more ways to slice the pie, so to speak, much like a thirty one-band EQ is perhaps more versatile than a fifteen-band.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    I would disagree with that completely - I *only* use MBC on individual tracks and very, VERY rarely use them across the master bus or during mastering (unless something is screwed up enough that it couldn't be repaired in the mix).

    They're *made* for repair at the track level - De-essing, overtones, etc. Throwing one on the main bus is (IMO) far too radical - Again, unless the mix is so poorly done that nothing else will fix it.
  6. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Thanks for the replies. Let's just say that hypothetically if I wanted my mixes to compete with mainstream pop mixes in terms of perceived volume, would I be able to get more volume out of a multi-band compressor on the overall mix? I know the loudness wars are a touchy subject, but I'm just curious if MBC is one technique they use to boost volume.
  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    depends on what your goal is. a MBC will change the frequency relationship of the mix. this can be a good thing if it's out of wack, or a bad thing if you like your mix. Most ME's I know don't use multi band unless something is wrong. A wide band compressor will retain a better relationship in regards to frequency.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Multiband limiting became very popular for broadcast purposes in the loudness wars!

    We can certainly help certain things in the studio but I also find that less is generally more. Particularly at each crossover point you are adding a multitude of phase problems and yes, all of the above postings are quite applicable. They certainly can be used to create interesting dynamic effects or less dynamics as the case may be? They are frequently used for general compression with De-Essing needs.

    Putting them on the stereo mix bus, can make your mix denser and improve overall perceived loudness levels (especially with fast release times) but if you don't know exactly how to set them you will do more harm than good.

    2 heads are better than one (especially in a good old-fashioned recording lathe). But that's about all.
  9. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    a good mix is easier to get loud.....

    i mixed/mastered a song a song that was generally 2-3dB's louder on air.... and it wasn't smashed

    you need to find out what sounds most "efficient"
  10. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    WY / CA
    Home Page:
    Only four bands? A big-time, pro mastering house would not be caught dead without a third-octave MBC!

    Sarcasm aside, my observations are that the best single band compressors are of a much higher quality build, as compared to MBC's. MBC's may allow you to get a louder master from an incompetent mix, but not without artifacts. SBC are less invasive and generally more satisfying.
  11. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Thanks for all the tips. You all have convinced me. Since I make my music with Reason 3.0, I have complete control over the mix, so I guess there's little reason to use a MBC to correct the errors in the mix...

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