Using Multi-Band Compression

Updated On
11-Apr-2013
By
Ken Theriot

We have a few articles about the use of an effect called compression in audio recording.  See our first one here: Should You Use Compression In Audio Recording? Well usually the compression settings (like threshold and ratio) are applied to the entire frequency spectrum of an audio item.  But sometimes it might be useful to apply different settings to different frequencies.  For example, you might want to really squash the low frequencies (say, a "band" of frequencies between 60 and 200 Hz), but have a faster release on them, while at the same time, applying subtle compression to the middle group (band) of frequencies.  That is called multi-band compression.

Our article on multi-band (or more often, multiband) compression explains in more detail. But we like to offer different points of view and perspectives.

Here is an article from Audio Geek Zine that shows you how to use multi-band compression, along with audio examples of drums and guitar recordings.  check it out here: http://audiogeekzine.com/2012/09/how-to-use-multiband-compression/

3 comments on “Using Multi-Band Compression”

  1. Hello Ken,

    I've purchased some of your products in the past and I have a question about after you render multiple tracks for an entire song and it's just not loud enough, and I have to turn it all the way up to hear it? What can I do without changing the track settings just to make it louder so I don't have to have the volume turned all the way up on whatever I use to listen to the rendered song on? Oh by the way I am using Reaper.

  2. Hi Don. Great question. It all starts with making sure you record the audio loud enough to start with. Tip #3 in https://www.homebrewaudio.com/how-to-build-a-home-recording-studio-part-2-4-tips-for-preventing-noise/ is "record as loud as possible without distorting/clipping." Basically, you should be able to "see" a fair amount of wave-form ("blobs") in the track. Then as you add tracks, keep an eye on your meter in the master track, as well as the meters in the mixer view (along the bottom) for each track. Make sure you see a fair amount of signal registering in each track, and also in the master track, but not so much that it ever goes into the red. That should ensure you have enough signal. When rendering, you are shown a visual of the final waveform as it builds. Again, it needs to show a good amount of signal in the "swim-lane" without going into the red (which will show if it happens while rendering). If what you see is very little audio (just a few squiggles or ups/downs away from the middle line) on any track, or the meter never goes above, say, -15 or -10 dB on the master meter, you know that you have recorded at too low a level, or that things need to be turned up in either the tracks or the master track or both. But if you didn't pay heed to Tip #3 above, when you turn things up, you'll also turn up the noise in any and all tracks. So it all comes down to making sure you record each and every sound with enough signal to start with.

    Can you hear it when you are recording?

    Ken

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