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When Should I Use Multiband Compression?

Hi i’m new to the forum and waves plug ins and not the youngest member if you get my drift.
So my question is when should i use multi band compression as opposed to more straight forward compressor plug in’s.
In a mix i’m doing just now i have
Vocals
Electric Guitar
Bass Guitar
Drums
Accordion
Keyboard Strings Sound
In order to use multiband compression correctly should i not have to understand the frequencies of all these above instruments or am i over complicating things.
Is it a case of adjust the frequency bands and the compression and just listen to the difference.
Sorry for such a basic question
Gus

For the most part I believe basic compression does the job. Optical compressors or compressors with low ratios, low thresholds and soft knees for some more transparent level controls, hard knee, higher ratio,VCAs and FETs for more aggressive control and shaping. Generally speaking.

The reason why I consider multibands is to generally solve a problem that can’t be solved with straight forward compression.

For example, maybe a basic compressor might do the job, but you discover it lacks some intelligibility or snappier transients. By using a multiband you can compress the lower frequencies as per normal, but the higher frequencies you can really tailor to help bring out its attack.

Conversely, a recent problem I had was a synth bass sounding about 3dB louder at the start of its 8-bar phrase, than it did at the end. I’m not even sure how that was possible, yet there it is. I tried straight up compression on it, just to bring back some uniformity to its level, but I felt it was being a bit too brutal. So I went for a multiband instead. Well in actual fact I did both, as I still liked the harmonics I was getting from the Fairchild. So I trimmed about 1db or so with the Fairchild and and about another 2dB with the multiband compressor, well at the low end anyway. I decided to take advantage of the multiband and used a middle band to reduce it enough to allow more room for other instruments, without taking too much presence or weight away. I then used an upper band to bring out the articulation and add more definition to the notes. It was a bit of work, but the end result was a better balanced, more articulate bass sound that sat nicely with the other instruments.

There are other occasions it might be useful such as drums stems or other stems of “premixed” instruments for example. So basically the idea is not to unnecessarily complicate issues for yourself unless you need to.

When using a multiband compressor I suggest using it like a regular compressor to begin with and adjust all the controls together if it allows you to. Don’t worry about the band settings just yet, just aimed to get a good overall compressed sound. Once that’s done, then turn towards adjusting the individual bands starting with the one that “needs the most help”. Be sure to always level match it with its unprocessed signal and A/B it regularly to make sure you are doing more good than harm. It’s a very easy thing to over do, so you need to be honest with yourself and not expect “miracles”.

Hi Simon many thanks for the in depth answer, to be honest its above my knowledge level but the only way to learn is to listen to people who know what they are talking about.
I watched a video about mastering using the waves plug ins and the expert was using i think either the L3 LL Multimaximizer or the L3-LL Ultramaximizer.
This got me thinking that their must be a Waves plugin that lets you see specific frequency ranges of your audio so that novices like me would be able to set the compression band frequency range,instead of not really having a clue.
I have recorded some material that i want to get mixed,the instrument that needs compression is the accordion. The accordion can be a tricky instrument to record,very difficult to get smoothness,this is where the compression comes in, i just dont know what compressor to use and how often to use it,do i try hard compression,or moderate compression and the moderate compression again lol,trial and error i supose
Many Thanks for your reply it is very much appreciated
Gus

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