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Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

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Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby EmbraceRandom » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:16 pm

Hey all,

Just wondering what people dislike about multi-band dynamics processing? Not so I can just adopt such opinions! I use it a bit on distorted electric guitars to tame the LF when there's palm mutes or something similar, seems to do the trick more than a single-band compressor which just sucks at the whole frequency spectrum.

Enlighten me

ER.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:22 pm

Well, it's quite a manipulation of the audio. Firstly the way that you split the source into bands affects it. Obviously some filters are more transparent than others but you can hear it messing about. Then you're changing the natural changes in the frequency response of that source. So while it's a fantastic tool in many situations, like all processes, it takes its toll. It's complicated surgery, and while complicated surgery is sometimes just the ticket, there are many times when it might be better to see if you can live with the problem and not mess with it.

Personally...I use it quite a lot. But I do sometimes end up tweaking it for ages before taking it off and going 'Oh.'

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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby The_BPP » Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:16 pm

Honestly, it's the easiest way of completely buggering-up your mix - I've used it on-and-off for years, (originally, using a TC Finalizer), but never produced impressive results with it.

Some mastering engineers use it as a fix if they only have access to the mix.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby EmbraceRandom » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:05 pm

When you say buggering-up, do you mean for the same reasons that Jack mentioned?
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby The_BPP » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:37 pm

I can only speak from personal experience, and I've found that multiband compression can be a drastic way of changing tone, and quite non-musical.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:52 pm

i find them very useful indeed..... the secret is in subtlety, and to consider each band carefully, do you really NEED it , what does it need by itself.... is it affected negatively by the other bands if you leave it out.... can it be achieved with a normal compressor? and so on....

just hammering on with it like a single band comp is a sure fire way to be disappointed...

you need to think of it both as dynamic control, and as EQ... a kind of Dynamic EQ if you like.....

it's not necessarily about winning a loudness war, it's about gaining creative and technical dynamic control of the mix...... i like being able to keep a tight leash on the low end, but keep the mid and HF more dynamic
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby feline1 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:28 pm


I use it all the time, and I'm not scared of it -
perhaps this is cos my roots are in using analogue synths, where you just twiddle the knobs until your hair stands on end, and when it sounds right, it *is* right... am thus less hung up on authenticity and what certain real instruments are "supposed" to sound like (mind you, I don't work with said real sound sources all that much in the first place)
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby Mixedup » Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:06 pm

I often use it, though rarely on the stereo buss. Not just dynamics either - the Melda stuff for multi-band transient design, excitement, stereo width and a few other processes is really helpful. Like others, often I'll spend far too long f***ing about with it and end up taking it off again, but used well for the right job its really useful.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:34 pm

OK, so somewhat coincidentally I was playing with ProAudioDSP's DSM plug in at work today. It's sort of like a multiband with many many bands. It allows you to capture a curve from the source material, and then use compression to conform each band to that curve. It has ratio attack release threshold etc which allow you to decide how strictly you want it to conform. You can impose your own alterations on the curve. There's also a limiter. You can use it for all sorts of eq/compression/limiting/dynamic eq sort of applications, as well as mastering.

I set up four mixes from a recent rock thing, and compared it to the Massey L2007 and the Slate FGX. I had massey high res limiters on each so that I could make sure the average levels of each mix were more or less matched. What I found was that the Massey did what it said on the tin...It's my favourite straight ahead brick wall limiter. It makes stuff louder. But there's always a change in the spectral balance of the material one you pass a certain point. As with all extreme limiting there always comes that moment when the recovery becomes weird...Reverbs seem to leap up out of nowhere, drums vanish, vocals get really loud, and everything seems middly and boomy at the same time. The FGX seemed a little distorted and made the bass really sort of undefined and loud. The dynamic perception control allowed me to retain the drums but in a slightly un-natural way. The DSM on the other hand let me get louder than the other two while retaining the balance. Messing about with the curve let me bring the attack of the drums and cymbals out while staying loud. I got more punch rather than less. Very interesting. The only thing is that it's complicated. Difficult to use and you really need to have a clear idea of where you're going with it. But it really shines.

Apparently it's good for de-essing too. You capture a curve of the vocal in a section without excessive sibilance. You can hold the capture button to get an average over a few seconds. Then you just set the compressor controls so that any sudden leaps in the HF are limited. It's clever.

Not a multiband. Not an eq. Not a compressor. But really all of those things. Check it out and check out the videos on the site.

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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby bvaccaro » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:37 am

There are two separate issues that my mastering engineers have mentioned with multiband compressors.
The first is that you are are EQing and compressing at the same time. There is nothing wrong with this, per se, but it can make it more challenging since these are really two different types of signal processing. It is easy to end up with garish results.
The second issue is a distribution issue. Lossy codecs like MP3 and AAC work on a multiband approach to data reduction. Data that the algorithm determines to be in the same critical band is prioritized and the less important elements eliminated since, in theory, the listener won't be able to hear more than one thing in a critical band. Multiband compression can throw the codecs for a loop. As an example, try squashing the heck out of your mix with a four-band compressor, then bounce it as an MP3. The results are quite unpredictable, and usually, problematic when compared to the lossless format of the mix. Since most clients will eventually want their music in a downloadable format, multiband compression is best avoided.
That being said, I do sometimes use it in both mixing and mastering, but I tend to be very gentle in application, rarely resulting in more than 2dB or gain reduction per band. It can be a great way to even out the lows on a bass track without losing the presence and attack.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby Zukan » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:07 am

The only problem with multi-bands is the crossover points as they can smear.
I do like the odd bit of MB when using a bus compressor when I want to disengage the low energies so they don't trigger the comp.

If you use them right they can be useful but you can go 'wrong' very quickly too.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:28 am

The thing is that people like TC Electronic sold multiband compression as an all encompassing fix for bad mixes that could be used anywhere and everywhere. It isn't.

Compression that works over a limited range of frequencies or which is more sensitive to certain frequencies than others is an extremely useful tool though. I often used to use Adobe Audition's dynamics tool in frequency sensitive mode but nowadays I find a multiband compressor is easier to use thanks to their much better user interface design.

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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby tomafd » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:23 am

Occasional use only here - usually when I want to give an old tune a bit of a makeover but don't have time to remix it (which almost always gives much better results) As already said - subtlety is the key. It's really easy to mash things to a pulp, and yes, you can waste a lot of time trying to find some magic balance where it does actually improve things instead of screwing up the whole balance of the tune.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby The Elf » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:19 pm

I often use them on vocals and sometimes bass, but I'd balk at throwing one over a complete mix. If the mix needs something like this to make it sing then I'd go back to the mix to see what I'm doing wrong.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby Daniel Davis » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:23 pm

I haven't used it on a mix for some time but I used to use it as follows. There was an article on mastering compression where it compared the more obvious and harder sound of higher ratio, higher threshold, shorter time constants, with the more natural and smooth lower ratio, lower threshold, longer time constants. Well My opinion was that I preferred the smoother results on upper mids and preferred the harder approach on the bass - so I dialed in 4 bands with progressivly changing values. It worked for me. These days I'm more likely to adopt a similar approach on individual instruments - and then use a single compressor at the mastering stage - because it does change the mix rather than just altering the dynamics.
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Re: Why do [some] people dislike multi-band?

Postby The_BPP » Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:21 pm

James Perrett wrote:The thing is that people like TC Electronic sold multiband compression as an all encompassing fix for bad mixes that could be used anywhere and everywhere. It isn't.

I agree, but...

The problem with multiband compression, such as the Finalizer, is it can take a GOOD mix, and make it bad... I owned a finalizer, and after years of use, I still found it little hit-and-miss.
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