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Choosing a multiband compressor VST

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Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:42 pm

Having recently got a nice computer and MixBus set up (and very much liking it - it suits my workflow perfectly) I'm starting to allocate time with a view to improving my mixing abilities.

The usual references (forum, Mike Senior's book) are easy to consult, but I'd like to start getting to grips with appropriate use of multiband compression as part of the process.

Coincidentally, Harrison have just released the latest incarnation of their AVA Multiband compressor at a fairly attractive price. There's an unlisted video with a quick overview of it by them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMy274RNUbo (though I think they could have balanced the level of the narration against the demo material better!)

I couldn't find a review of it in SOS, hence this post. The two questions in my mind, given I'm trying to get things right, are:

1) Is the Harrison AVA Multiband Compressor a good investment for me given the above (the current offer is $49 which seems suspiciously cheap, though that's possibly a naive assessment).

2) If not, are there any other recommendations more experienced folk could make?

I don't want to get anything massively expensive and over the top but nor do I want to get anything cheap and cheerful. I'd like something that I can use going forwards with some confidence in its quality, and of course I can always upgrade if and when I reach the point that the next investment is justified.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby James Perrett » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:54 pm

Download the ReaPlugs package from https://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/ and give ReaXComp a try.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:20 pm

Not as cheap, but I do love FabFilter's Pro-MB. For lots of reasons:

(1) Most multi-band compressors are not transparent because you can hear the phase shift introduced by the crossovers even when there's no compression going on. Not so with Pro-MB.

(2) Rather than always dividing the entire audio bandwidth into three, five or however many bands, it opens with an empty window and you just add a band where you need it. So there's less temptation to process areas of the frequency spectrum that don't need processing.

(3) The user interface is superb.

(4) You can un-link the side-chain for each band from its active frequency range -- so, for instance, you could have compression at 1kHz triggered by peaks at 5kHz. This is suprisingly useful.

(5) It can do expansion as well as compression.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Alba » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:58 pm

Tokyo Dawn's Nova is very handy.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:05 pm

Thank you all (and for the additional details Sam) - some very useful looking pointers there, I'll go do some homework and trials.

Cheers :thumbup:
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby The Elf » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:45 am

Waves C4/6 remain my MBCs of choice. Simple and effective.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:47 am

The Elf wrote:Waves C4/6 remain my MBCs of choice. Simple and effective.

Also heavily discounted right now ... good timing. Thank you :thumbup:
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Dave B » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:23 am

Alba wrote:Tokyo Dawn's Nova is very handy.

+1. It's a very good dynamic eq which everyone should have in the toolbox and I would argue is more flexible than a multiband compressor. And it's absurdly good vfm as well.

But I also need to look at FabFilter's Q3 - I've use Q/Q2 for years and got the upgrade but haven't played with it yet. That also does dynamic eq as well. I need to see what that's like.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Zukan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:09 am

Eddy, opt for a dynamic eq buddy.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:12 am

I've not bought anything yet - I'll check out Nova as well (Edit: nice, a free option and a paid version - that's really handy). I'm in a bit of a catch-22 here in that I'm a little behind the curve on knowledge in this general area :)

That said, I think the Samplecraze Audio Production Hub videos should help greatly in that department :thumbup:
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Zukan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:34 am

Yay....

Seriously Eddy, you won't regret going down the dynamic eq route. The beauty of Nova, apart from it being coded well, is that facility to have extremely steep slopes.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Matt Houghton » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:46 am

The Fabfilter and Tokyo Dawn options are definitely worth checking out. I really like Pro-Q3, which can be a dynamic (or static) EQ, with as many nodes as you want, each of which when used on stereo/dual-channel material is assignable to the left, right, mid, sides or stereo signal. I love Nova, and find that easier to configure, but it's not as versatile — you need multiple instances to EQ the mid, sides, left and right channels separately, for instance. Pro-MB is really nice, as Sam says, though if it's a toss-up between the two, I tend to reach for the dynamic EQ more.

I don't enjoy the Reaper/Cockos multiband compressor so much. The GUI gives me a headache for one! But you can't argue with the price, and it does the basic job.

I'd also strongly suggest checking out the various Melda multiband plug-ins. There's some excellent value to be had from their bundles.

And consider the Blue Cat stuff too. Specifically MB-7, which allows you to host whatever plug-in chains you want in anything from one to seven different frequency bands. It's slightly fiddlier to set up initially, but it's really versatile and you can save presets. So it can easily become your go-to multiband compressor, multiband transient designer, multiband stereo enhancer, multiband distortion... etc. Multiband whatever you want it to be. If that's not your cup of tea, they also do a dedicated multiband dynamics processor...
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Wonks » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:50 am

Zukan wrote: The beauty of Nova, apart from it being coded well, is that facility to have extremely steep slopes.

Steeper still, and with more bands of dynamic EQ if you pay the small amount for the GE (Gentleman's Edition) version.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Zukan » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:54 am

Indeed. And while you're shopping get the 6 GE.....in fact, buy everything.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:26 pm

Zukan wrote:Indeed. And while you're shopping get the 6 GE.....in fact, buy everything.

Sidetracking a little on Eddy's original query, but yes, I would agree with this sentiment - over the last few years I've found myself reaching for my TDR Slick EQ Gentlemen's Edition more often than any other EQ.

Moreover, I've found it absurdly successful at matching the sound of various other EQ plug-ins I've attempted.


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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby OK1 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:52 pm

James Perrett wrote:Download the ReaPlugs package from https://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/ and give ReaXComp a try.

This was also my 1st suggestion.

Key points

1. Free.
2. Low CPU usage.
3. Stable/Reliable
4. You can add and delete bands
5. You can enable/disable bands.
6. You can solo bands.
7. Very good visual tool, so you can "see" what needs adjustment, and more.
8. Definitely a good place to start with multiband compression- risk free.

Things to watch out for.

1. A tendency to mix with your eyes rather than your ears cos of the information rich display.

2. Reaxcomp turns on auto gain by default, which I find is NOT what I wanted most of the time so when inserting a new instance, turn off auto-gain on all bands or save this non autogained starting point as a preset which you can recall.

3. A tendency to use too many bands. I think fewer bands is better, and turn off bands in frequencies where the sound does not need any fixing. I assume you are using this across an entire mix.

4. It's easy to set such variance in attack/release across the bands, which will make the mix sound a bit different.

5. It's only a tool, you control it, have to learn what it does well and not so well, it takes time to learn. You decide how natural or artificial(which may be a good thing creatively) you want the impact to be.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby OK1 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:59 pm

OK1 wrote:
James Perrett wrote:Download the ReaPlugs package from https://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/ and give ReaXComp a try.

This was also my 1st suggestion.

Key points

1. Free.
2. Low CPU usage.
3. Stable/Reliable
4. You can add and delete bands
5. You can enable/disable bands.
6. You can solo bands.
7. Very good visual tool, so you can "see" what needs adjustment, and more.
8. Definitely a good place to start with multiband compression- risk free.

Things to watch out for.

1. A tendency to mix with your eyes rather than your ears cos of the information rich display.

2. Reaxcomp turns on auto gain by default, which I find is NOT what I wanted most of the time so when inserting a new instance, turn off auto-gain on all bands or save this non autogained starting point as a preset which you can recall.

3. A tendency to use too many bands. I think fewer bands is better, and turn off bands in frequencies where the sound does not need any fixing. I assume you are using this across an entire mix.

4. It's easy to set different attack/release/ratio across the bands, which will make the mix sound even more incoherent. No options to lock attack/release/ratio values across bands and adjusting them in unison, when you change the values in one band...

5. It's only a tool, you control it, have to learn what it does well and not so well, it takes time to learn. You decide how natural or artificial(which may be a good thing creatively) you want the impact to be.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:59 pm

I just use a TC Finalizer.........
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:48 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I just use a TC Finalizer.........

Strange you should mention that - I've got one too. One of the main reasons I want to learn more about using multiband compression properly is to be able to use the Finalizer effectively, as it's startlingly easy to make a complete hash of it as I've found out in the past!

I find using software a lot easier for learning purposes as the visual feedback is so much better. I've installed Waves C4, C6 and TDR Nova (free version for now).

I may increase the toolset once I've spent a bit of time with them, Zuke's videos and a book or two but I reckon that lot should see me right for a while :-)

Many thanks to everyone for the assistance and recommendations.
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Re: Choosing a multiband compressor VST

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:56 pm

TBH I use a couple of the more subtle presets, I'm not clever enough to do it any other way and I don't record much (live sound guy remember) so it adds a little 'fairy dust' which usually improves my mixes and pleases my ear.

The guys I bought it off are/were mates of mine and they used to mix through it (harking back to the recent 'Top Down' thread) and referred to it as "The Turd Polisher". They were not too shabby and well respected in UK Jazz circles (John Jorgenson guested on one of the CDs).
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