Intro to Mixing with Multiband Compression

Transcript:

In this video, I’ll be providing an introduction to the basics of multiband processing. I’m going to be using the Waves C6 compressor and expander; however, many of the controls and features that I discuss and demonstrate can be applied to other multi-band processors that you might come across in use.

So how does a multiband processor work? Well it takes an incoming audio signal and divides its frequency spectrum into multiple bands. After the signals been divided, each one of these bands can be processed independently. As an example, you could take the low frequency part of your signal and compress it in one way. Then you could take the high frequency part of your signal and compress it in a totally different way. I’m going to be demonstrating this processor by inserting it on my mix buss. This is an obvious place to use multiband processing, because you have frequencies in your signal that span the entire frequency spectrum. However, you can also use it on individual instruments or on sub-mixes. As with everything with music, it’s all about being creative and ultimately, what sounds best. Right now I’ve got the plugin in bypass mode, so I’ll just play you back the track so you can hear how it sounds without the plugin activated.

Next let me get into the controls and features of the plugin. A very important aspect of dividing the frequency spectrum of your signal is to pick where the frequency divisions are going to take place for each one of the bands. With the C6, you have control of these sliders, where you can pick where these different bands are going to take place. You have your low frequency band down here. And you have your low mids that goes from this band up to this one. And you have your high mids that goes from wherever you set this band to the next one up. Then you have your high frequencies that basically go from the last division all the way to about 20k, wherever your sampling rate limits the signal.

You can use these frequency bands and basically drag them around, or you can also use, on the C6, these numbers down here to set the crossover. Next you can use this cue setting to basically change how much overlap there is between the different frequency bands. So you can see in the gray lines up here, I can make it narrow or wide. By making it wide, then you have more overlap in each one of the bands. So I have my low frequency signal that’s going to overlap all the way up to here. Or I can tighten the cue, and then it doesn’t overlap as much.

Next you have the actual compressor or expander controls for each one of the channels. You have a gain control, the range, which basically sets how much you can either compress or expand. So as you see here in expanding, this sets how much the signal is going to be turned up, or if you ‘re going to compress, sets the limit on how much it can be turned down. Next you have Attack and Release controls. These are typical, what you might find on any other kind of wide band compressor. And you basically have the same controls repeated for each one of the these channels.

There are the four main bands or channels that you’re going to be working with. In the C6, you also get two extra floating bands that are not determined, or are not side by side with any other bands. They’re basically floating across the entire spectrum, and you can move them wherever you want, whereas with these other ones, if you change one, it changes the one next to it as well. So it’s kind of cool for the C6 to throw in. You also have some controls over here that are kind of global controls, where you can set the threshold on all the bands at the same time. You can set the gain separately, too. Then the same with the range, where you’re affecting all of the bands at the same time. But obviously, we don’t always want to do this, because we want one band to be processed one way and the other one the other way.

I haven’t even really gotten into how to actually set these things up. Initially, I just want to show you exactly the controls and how they work. In the next video, I’ll be demonstrating how I like to go about setting the different frequency bands, controls and how I like to compress the low and high frequencies.

Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr is a musician, audio engineer, and producer based in Columbus, Ohio. Currently a Professor of Audio Engineering Technology at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
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