Love it. The ability to shape large parts of my mix by using subtle multiband compression means I can EQ less, leaving my mix feeling a lot more open and natural. Tonal control and sculpting are effortless. I trigger a band with the dry vocal, usually around kHz, to dip dB when the vocal is on to create a usually unnoticeable, but big enough hole for the vocals to better cut through something like a thick synth wall.
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First and foremost, they exist to help balance the dynamics of a performance, making quiet parts louder and louder parts quieter. Additionally, certain compressors provide coloration or saturation with harmonic generation. Whether dynamic control or creating tone is your goal, compressors are essential to any mix. Previous articles have covered some of the best ways to apply compression when making music, but multi-band compression takes things one step further — they provide control that simply is available when using a traditional stereo compressor.
Through frequency-specific compression and independently set compression parameters, multi-band compressors are an integral form of processing when mixing and mastering. It should be noted that these compressors are in no particular order. The Pro-MB offers plenty of useful features to earn itself a spot as one of the best multi-band compressors available today. The typical approach of a multi-band compressor involves crossover points that split the entire signal into separate sections that the compressor can then process.
Rather than take the traditional approach, the Pro-MB gives users a great new way to use multi-band compression. FabFilter gives engineers six bands that can be applied directly to the frequencies that they want to work with, ditching the traditional crossover approach.
Of course, for those who may prefer the traditional way, these bands can be linked together to create crossover points for a classic mode of operation. Each band can have its output panned either Mid or Sid. This gives mastering engineers the ability to fine-tune without the need for multiple plugins, saving both CPU and time.
Multiple amounts of phase alterations are available as well. A brand new Dynamic Phase mode allows for no latency while still eliminating pre-ringing and phase-shifting issues. All-in-all the Fabfilter Pro-MB offers advanced control options for engineers experienced in either mixing or mastering.
Waves C6 The C6 offers 4 crossover bands and 2 floating bands. Building upon their beloved C4 multi-band compressor, the Waves C6 gives engineers a powerful toolset, rock-solid performance, and a great price tag to start using multi-band compression. The four band section has threshold, gain, range, attack, and release controls for each band and allows the crossovers to be altered to fit your situation.
The floating bands are free of the crossovers meaning they can be used anywhere in the frequency range. Because of this, the floating bands are great for corrective tasks such as de-essing from within the same plugin. The C6 also includes side-chain inputs on all six of the bands, giving even more flexibility to this powerful plugin.
Master section controls allow you to control the frequency range of the sidechain signal with split confining it to the crossover range and wide allowing the signal to come in at full range. Further control over the plugin is available via the master section.
The release can be set to ARC auto release control to allow the plugin to set the release for transparent results, or to manual when you want the plugin to follow the fixed amounts that you have set. Paired with the Knee control, these two settings help achieve the reaction you need out of the C6.
For transparent compression with lots of configuration, the C6 is a great choice. Although the FabFilter Saturn is typically used for harmonic generation and analog emulation, its ability to separate a stereo signal into 6 separate bands, and affect their dynamics, makes it a great tool for both mixing and mastering.
The dynamics function allows you to quickly and easily affect the dynamics of that particular band. Multiple distortion settings, as well as the ability for advanced signal chain mapping and mid-side processing makes the FabFilter Saturn an incredibly versatile plugin. Advanced signal-chain mapping and envelope generation can be used to create unique emulations and compression types. When mastering engineers build their signal chains, the limiter is often the last thing that signals will pass through.
Much like mix engineers use multi-band compressors, mastering engineers can also benefit from the use of multi-band limiters when they are looking to tweak every aspect of their dynamics. The Waves L3 Multimaximizer continues with the success that makes their L series so popular.
While the L1 and L2 focused on being simplistic, the L3 adds multi-band functionality for more precise limiting across your material. This section includes both the limiter functions and dithering. The master section features the classic controls of the earlier L series limiters.
Threshold and Out Ceiling make the basics of the plugin fairly simple to use. The master section also gives options over dithering if you choose to apply it and the behavior of the master release. There are five bands to control, each with their own gain, priority, and release controls. The priority feature allows engineers to maintain the same sonic character when limiting if one band sounds over-compressed.
Individual gain, priority, and release can affect the behavior of each band. By increasing its priority, the L3 will apply more limiting to the other bands and less to the afflicted band to maintain the character while also allowing the problematic band to get rid of some of the strain. A separation control also gives engineers control over how much of the neighboring band will be fed into the detector.
For a more traditional response, less separation should be used. This may increase the amount of limiting across all of your bands however, so when individual control is key, more separation may need to be used. Vengeance Multiband Compressor The Vengeance Multiband is used to add some aggressive punch to a mix. One of the reasons engineers may use a multi-band compressor is to add punch to a mix.
Vengeance Sound sought to build a compressor perfect for this task when designing their compressor and hit the nail right on the head. Depending on what your mix requires, the Vengeance compressor allows you to choose how many bands you would like to use.
As few as one and as many as four bands lets the engineer decide how much independent compression is available in the plugin. Auto gain and auto release functions make deciding on settings a bit easier. The plugin also has useful options such as auto-gain and auto-release on a per band basis. Limiters can also be applied if you are looking for a more aggressive type of compression. Like the other controls, you can choose to apply limiters on individual bands so combinations of compression and limiting are available.
Other useful features like a mix knob and anti-distortion filters allow for great tone when using the Vengeance compressor. Additionally, the mix knob is available on each band and on the master section.
A mainstay in the toolbox of many engineers, the McDSP ML has gained attention for its high-quality limiting and multi-band compression functions. Whether you utilize its compression, limiting, or both, your music can benefit from this powerful plugin. The master section allows engineers to set an out ceiling, threshold, knee, and release to set the overall response of the plugin. Multiple limiting modes give the user many different characteristics all under the same roof.
There are six modes total that give just the right amount of character to your mixes. Clean offers the most transparent response while Crush offers the most distorted sound. Soft, Dynamic, Smart, and Loud give sounds that range in between the extremes that are provided. Quick attack and release times are available, as well as compression, expansion and gating functions.
The four band section gives many dynamic options for great control over your tracks. Each band has an individual threshold, ratio, knee, attack, and release controls to fine-tune how the ML responds to all frequencies in your mixes. To further its power, each band can also be set to act as a gate, expander, or compressor. The dedicated crossover page shows real-time graphics for frequency response and also gives users a graphical interface to adjust their crossover points.
Often viewed as a tool for color and saturation rather than a compressor, the VintageWarmer2 has had its ups and downs in terms of being a favorite. Both single band and multiband compression can be used. The Vintage Warmer 2 offers a couple of modes for setting the general behavior. Single-band and multi-band modes are available in the plugin, as well as the option to use it as a multi-band brick wall limiter.
Part of what makes this plugin special is that it looks to model analog tape compression. There are many controls on the VintageWarmer2 for fine-tuning your sound. Typical compressor options like knee, drive, ceiling, and release make this plugin easy to get started with. Also available is a two-band equalizer for added control over how the multiband compressor will respond to your material.
Frequency rotaries alter how the compressor responds to particular frequencies. The speed control responds differently than most attack knobs would, and that is because it is doing things a bit differently. As a part of the saturation available in the plugin, the speed knob helps to emulate the differences in tape saturation in relation to the tape speed. Because of this it acts like the attack and release functions simultaneously.
Why a release knob then? It acts as a fine-tuning knob with features like auto and long buttons to help nail the proper times for your mix or master. Even though PSP designed a plugin that responds differently than a typical multi-band, check out the VintageWarmer2 if you want to apply multi-band tape compression and add some harmonic generation simultaneously.
Softube Drawmer Modeled after the original Darwmer , this multiband emulator closely mimics the behavior of the original. Creating modern versions of classic hardware can be difficult when emulating analog gear. Luckily the team at Softube has excelled at this for years. They continue down this path with the Softube Drawmer compressor.
Known for its flexibility, transparency, and quality, the original Drawmer gave engineers many options that were unavailable via traditional broadband compressors. The Drawmer offers 3 bands of compression with variable cross overs.
Softube paid close attention to the features of the original hardware, giving the plugin the same three-band functionality that gave the its reputation.
Each band features attack, release, gain, and threshold controls. The two crossover points can be changed with the frequency selection knobs, allowing for a great dynamic response with an analog vibe.
Exclusive features to the plugin have been added to prepare the for more complex tasks. The addition of a sidechain allows the compressor to react to external sources if you need to trigger the gain reduction.
Being a FET compressor, the offers very quick attack and release times making this a great choice for transient heavy material. For those looking for analog vibe and a classic approach to multiband compression, the Softube Drawmer offers you all of this with modern flexibility. Building on their T-Racks software suite, IK Multimedia has another entry in high-end audio processing. The T-Racks Quad Comp offers a simple interface with great multiband compression on tap.
The Best Multiband Compressor Plugin for Mixing & Mastering [Software Guide]
When setting up your multiband compressor, treat it in the same way as normal compression. For more attack and aggression, use a slower attack time. For more thickness, use a fast attack time. Start with a slower release time above 50ms and try to time the release to the tempo of the music. Use a slower release for sustained notes. In general, you should be more conservative with your settings.
C6 Multiband Compressor
See this Wiki article on multiband compression for more info. Moving forward, this gives you more control over the different aspects of the sound than standard compressors. For example, in mastering a mix, you may want to reduce the attack transient of a guitar track which occupies a certain portion of the frequency spectrum, while letting the punch of a kick drum get through in another part of the spectrum. When it comes to mixing, one of the many applications of multiband compressor is in vocals.
Free VST multiband compressor plugins
This diverse tool combines multiband compression, equalization, limiting, expansion, and de-essing capabilities into one simple interface. With its advanced features and precision, the C6 is a perfect weapon for post-production, sound design, in the studio as a creative tool for music production, and for live use, particularly on vocals. The C6 gives you all the multiband compression and dynamic equalization you need to control, tame, and shape your sound with ease. Read More 3. Each of the five bands offers compression, expansion, or gate modes that can be chosen separately for unparalleled flexibility. The Precision Multiband plugin can handle everything from complex dynamics control to simple de-essing. In addition, its user-friendly helm of controls makes it the ideal tool for both novice and seasoned users.
5 Best Multiband Compressor Plugins