What Is Multiband Compression? 3 Best Places to Put It!

What Is Multiband Compression?


Using a multiband compressor permits you to break up a track into completely different frequency ranges (known as “frequency bands”) and compress them independently.

You’ll be able to select to compress only a certain part of a track’s frequency spectrum or apply completely different flavors of compression to a number of areas of the spectrum.

Why would possibly this be helpful? Well, I’m glad you asked.

What is Multiband compression? This is an extra advanced type of compression. A multiband compressor works and splits the frequency spectrum into separate bands. Every frequency band additionally has dedicated compression settings.

Making use of completely different amounts of compression to the separate frequency ranges offers you extra management. A multiband compressor works as an EQ and a compressor in one.

ProMB by FabFilter

The Fundamentals of Multiband Compression

So, what truly is multiband compression?

Basically, multiband compression is the method of splitting the frequency band into 2 or extra frequency bands and making use of several types of compression on each.

Consider it as combining an EQ with a compressor.

This lets you obtain extra nuanced compression since you could, for instance, compress the high-end above 10kHz heavily but leave the low finish more subtly compressed. Why would you wish to do this?

Generally, a sound has what we name tonal inconsistencies. That’s, a slim or wide selection of frequencies might have loads of dynamics in them, but the remainder of the sound doesn’t have as much variation.

Making use of a standard compressor may not remedy the problem, as the tonal inconsistency may still not be loud enough to set off the compressor as a complete.

As a substitute, imagine you would take a slice of the frequency out and compress that as a separate supply. That is what multiband compression permits you to do, and that’s why it sounds so clear. You may leave the remainder of the sound intact.

However, why can’t you simply use EQ to turn down that particular frequency range?

Well, typically you possibly can, however while you turn one thing down, bear in mind it’s at all times turning it down by the identical amount. In different words, the adjustment is static.

multiband compression by metric halo

Tonal Inconsistency Stability

That is when you’ve tried utilizing an EQ to repair some problem frequencies within the mix, but regular EQ simply isn’t slicing it.

Likely as a result of the content material of that frequency range is especially dynamic, so a static band change doesn’t sound good until you automate the gain, which is tedious.

Most certainly, you’ll be working with some kind of acoustic or natural sound/instrument in these circumstances, like an acoustic guitar or vocal, as these sound sources are inclined to have way more dynamics than synthesized/digital ones.

That is when you can bring in a multiband compressor. The purpose right here is to make use of the minimal variety of bands to unravel the difficulty by concentrating on only the particular frequency and leaving everything else.

This leaves the audio intact whereas fixing the issue.

Right here’s a basic step-by-step workflow strategy you possibly can try:

  1. Attempt to remedy the issue with EQ.
  2. If that doesn’t work, target the identical frequency range in your multiband compressor of choice.
  3. Use a compression ratio of 4:1 (give or take) and set the threshold in order that the incoming audio triggers on the time of the inconsistency.
  4. Balance the attack and release times so it sounds pure, relying on the material. Attack and release times are crucial here!
  5. Alter the ratio and threshold ratio by some means to moreover make the adjustment more clear (you may need to ease back the ratio and enhance the threshold, or vice versa).
  6. A/B test the signal to see if the issue is resolved. Use the dry/wet knob if the effect is just too noticeable.

Why use Multiband Compression?

What use Multiband compression? This is more versatile than customary one-band compression. The outcomes sound extra pure and clear. You even have better control over shaping and managing dynamics.

For example, standard compressors have an effect on the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal. Whereas multiband compressors allow you to deal with particular ranges of an audio signal. That’s why we like the multiband because you can focus on a specific frequency range.

For instance, you possibly can compress the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice versa.

One other example: Say the top end in your snare is just too harsh however standard compression causes it to lose punch. For that reason, multiband compression will work better.

You’ll be able to compress the high-frequency band more than the mid and low bands. In turn, the top end will sound much less harsh and dynamic.

You’ll additionally keep the snares punch because the mid and low bands could have much less compression. It’s a type of the ultimate sculpting method to your audio.

The advantages of multiband compression are limitless. There are reasons why top producers and audio engineers use multiband compression to get the sound they need.

Waves multiband compression

Which Crossover Frequencies Are Best?

Industrial multi-band compressors usually permit the person to regulate the crossover factors, so if we take a three-band compressor for instance, where is the very best place to set them?

The answer is that it is determined by the kind of materials being processed and what adjustments are wanted.

OK, we do know that does not appear very useful, so let’s narrow it down a bit and assume we’re processing a full mix of typical pop music.

Setting a crossover level in the middle of the vocal range can mess up the vocal track, particularly if you use radically different compression settings on both sides of the crossover frequency.

In my expertise, it is best to set the low crossover level under the vocal frequency range and set the high crossover level no lower than 2.5kHz.

A smart low-frequency setting is likely to be 120Hz, as that is under the vocal range, however above many of the kick and bass drum components happening within the rhythm section.

what is multiband compression

These are only recommended beginning factors and, as a rule, I would recommend transferring the high crossover level higher than this if you plan to do more than very delicate high-end processing, as it is easy to over-emphasize the 2-4kHz space of the spectrum, which is the place issues can begin to happen.

Against this, if you limit heavy processing to above 6kHz, you possibly can considerably improve the sense of element and air, without affecting the essential mid-range and disturbing the pure replica of vocals and lots of acoustic instruments.

Don’t Use All of the Bands at Once

One of many causes you could be discouraged from utilizing multiband compression is that issues can quickly get out of hand while you’re coping with a number of bands, every being compressed differently.

The easiest way to keep away from that is by only utilizing a single band at a time. Instead of thinking of it as a multiband compressor, consider it as a band-specific (or bandpass) compressor.

Bypass all the individual bands apart from the range you wish to give attention to — let’s say 20Hz–60Hz to concentrate on the low thump of a bass drum or 4kHz–8kHz to give attention to the attack of the beater.

That is where the real magic of a multiband compressor lies — its capacity to manage the dynamic range of a particular frequency range to reinforce tone or to manage troublesome resonances or noises.

Begin with a single band engaged, versus all of them, and also you’ll be in a better place to make tweaks that assist your mix instead of damaging it.

izotope multiband compressor plugin

Repair Sibilance and Other Troublesome Sonic Artifacts

If you’ve ever used a de-esser plug-in, then you have already got expertise with this idea of band-specific compression — a de-esser is basically a compressor tuned to the frequency band answerable for harsh sibilance.

In the case of de-essing, arrange your compression to cover the range between 2kHz and 10kHz, roughly. Solo that band and then modify the range to essentially zero in on just the most troublesome frequencies — we wish to use the compressor to squash down on the sibilance whereas leaving the remainder of the sonic spectrum untouched.

Once you’re centered on sibilance and little else, modify the threshold and ratio controls to attain whatever stage of gain reduction your scenario requires — 5dB–10dB of gain reduction could be an appropriate place to begin.

Now, right here’s the important thing — don’t apply any make-up gain. Our objective is for the compressor to disregard everything that isn’t sibilance and to solely squash down on sibilant frequencies as soon as they’ve crossed the threshold.

Multiband Compression – Top 5 Plugins

Before we get deep into our favorite multiband compression strategies, we thought it is likely to be useful to list out our top 5 favorite multiband compressors. That is in no way an in-depth listing, simply our personal favorites with a couple of notes about what makes them so nice.

FabFilter Pro-MB: Incredible user interface with extraordinarily clear outcomes. Nice for both mixing and mastering.

iZotope Ozone Dynamics: Does an amazing job balancing out the low end, getting your sub to sit right within the mix.

Waves C4 Multiband Parametric Processor: Wonderful for vocals to reign in a dynamic range from the tone.

Ableton Multiband Compressor: CPU savor without any lacking quality. The tremendous easy interface as well.

UAD Precision Multiband: Nice analog taste of multiband compression. Good on real instruments.

Like most instances, the tools you might be using aren’t as vital as the ideas behind them. Sure, some of these plugins sound nice, however that doesn’t imply it’s best to go out and splurge before you also have a refined understanding of using your DAW’s inside multiband compressor. Begin there, and then expand.

multicore compression

Multiband Compression – Three Fundamental Usages

1. On Vocals

All the information above was about an example with vocals where they turned boomy and muddy throughout louder phrases, due to the acoustics of the room used during recording. Is just the way you possibly can target unhealthy low and middle-frequency characteristics, you possibly can target excessive frequencies.

An instance of this could be for sibilance, where certain sounds (like S and T sounds) create piercing bursts of air. Turning these sounds down is the job of a de-esser, which is only a single-band multiband compressor. One other way to consider a de-esser is as a compressor side-chained to an equalizer.

2. Drum bus

Getting steadiness between the kick and bass is all the time an issue since they share comparable frequency ranges. Sidechain compression is a superb choice to duck the bass, however, that is not an all-time choice. With a multiband compressor, you’ll be able to target that frequency range (40 Hz to 100 Hz usually).

Think about you only have stems to work with and you’ll want to turn down the kick but you can’t EQ it without affecting the bass too. You should use a multiband plugin to focus on the kick, use a slower attack so the transient pops through, and keep away from altering the harmonics of the upper frequencies. And doing so momentarily leaves the bass alone.

3. Mastering

Many newbie musicians at home are likely to take a stab at mastering their very own tracks. This tends to contain slapping a compressor on the master bus, getting about 3-5 decibels amount of gain reduction, after which slamming it into a limiter.

This is the most common place where you are going to use this type of compression. Multiband compression to the master? Probably the best thing that can happen to make the song flow if used right.

With multiband capabilities, you possibly can target precisely the problem areas, sculpt whole areas to tighten, and provide the glue to music or redefine areas just like the bass region only. That is a complete skillset to master and also you’re best off leaving it to an expert.

drawmer multiband compression


Multiband Compression is an easy tool that may appear daunting however as soon as you have figured it out, you’d have opened up a whole new world of mixing. If you have a specific frequency that you want to fix and not the whole spectrum, this is the go-to tool.

Studying to make use of multiband compression will assist get your tracks to a professional stage. You can protect dynamics and sculpt the sound, not like other audio effects.

While standard compression may get the job finished, multiband compression will excel when it’s a must to make particular adjustments.

Many mixes had been saved using this software, and much more has been ruined by putting this software in the hands of a newbie. That is alright, all of us should be taught by messing up.

However, do not send these tracks out to your listeners. Leave it to a professional! By following many books and tutorials, you will be able to understand deeply what is multiband compressing, so be patient and focus.

Whereas a parametric EQ allows you to target particular frequency ranges, it does so in a relentless style, affecting the track even when you do not need it to. Just one tool advances past that, providing you with momentary control, and that is multiband compression.

If you are having any questions in regards to multiband compression, feel free to shoot a question on our Instagram or here in the comments. We understand that this might be a difficult process for many, so we are here to help you out.


Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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