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Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

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Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:10 pm

Hi guys,
Following our brief discussion and confusion yesterday evening about the difference between multiband compression and dynamic EQ, I've tracked down this well-written couple of paragraphs from Paul White, as part of his review of the SOnnox oxford Dynamic EQ:

"The difference between a multiband compressor and a dynamic equaliser is subtle and sometimes misunderstood. Their roles do overlap to some degree, and both work by splitting the signal into multiple frequency bands, but they aren’t identical. Multiband compressors use crossovers with a slope that is usually fixed, even if the crossover frequency is variable, and process each of the resulting frequency bands separately before recombining them, whereas a dynamic EQ applies the gain change directly to the gain parameters of a multiband parametric equaliser.

Both designs have their pros and cons. The crossovers used in a multiband compressor can introduce unwanted and audible phase shifts, and a parametric EQ is more ‘tuneable’ than a simple band-splitting system; if necessary, EQ bands can also be made to overlap. A multiband dynamics processor also differs from typical dynamic equalisers in that as the amount of boost or cut increases, the bandwidth remains constant. By contrast, many equalisers exhibit ‘proportional Q’ response, where the bandwidth narrows with increasing gain or attenuation, and this can often sound more natural."


We were essentially correct during our discussions, but the above is a far clearer explanation ;)

Review here if you want to read more: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/so ... dynamic-eq


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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby The Elf » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:28 pm

I've always thought of both of them as being essentially 'dynamic EQ', though I can appreciate the differences. In practical terms I doubt it makes a huge difference.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:52 pm

The Elf wrote:I've always thought of both of them as being essentially 'dynamic EQ', though I can appreciate the differences. In practical terms I doubt it makes a huge difference.

Agreed - hence our collective confusion ;)
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:53 pm

I guess if you started getting really heavy with the compression you might start getting some phase artefacts, but at that point you're probably trying to roll it in glitter anyway...

Thanks Martin. :thumbup:
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:57 pm

I have a TC Finalizer Plus, bought from a mate's studio when his business partner sold up after he succumbed to cancer. Not sure exactly how it works but, used carefully, it definitely adds a little fairy dust. They used to refer to it as "The Turd Polisher" :D
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Folderol » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:12 pm

I must admit I was finding the discussion all rather confusing. This clarifies it a lot.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:54 pm

One practical difference is that a good dynamic EQ should allow you to set up very narrow bands, so you could use it for instance to notch out occasional feedback in a live recording. That's not usually possible with multiband compressors.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:05 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I have a TC Finalizer Plus, bought from a mate's studio when his business partner sold up after he succumbed to cancer. Not sure exactly how it works but, used carefully, it definitely adds a little fairy dust. They used to refer to it as "The Turd Polisher" :D

I've got a TC Finalizer 96k which I bought about 10 years ago in a momentary lapse of reason. I've never used it in anger, although it does look a fairly capable piece of kit.

Back in '94 I released an album involving synths and guitar (the latter played by someone else) which I "mastered", using the term very loosely in retrospect, through a TC Finalizer Express and although at the time I liked what it did I have regretted it ever since as I kind of butchered it and the multitracks are long lost, though I do have the sequencer files. It's listenable but could be a lot better.

So the Finalizer 96k sits on the shelf unused. I turn it on once in a while to warm the circuits and I've done a few tests with it that seem to sound rather nice but I think Ozone 9 is a better bet although part of me really wants to get to the point where I can a) use the Finalizer properly and b) know if/when/why I should do so over Ozone. There is a c) involving acoustic treatment and my studio but that plan is underway. Whether a) and b) comprise a pipe dream I don't know but it's a handsome decoration in the meantime so I've not lost sleep over it.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Zukan » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:44 am

That used to be the case Martin but MBCs have variable crossovers now - FabFilter's MBC being an example. Everything else in that wonderful article is bang on.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:01 am

I always thought it is more a matter of perspective and control interface - if you like to think in terms of threshold, attack and release and makeup gain, or in terms of gain, shape and Q..

Sometimes it comes natural to me to think in terms of one or or the other, depending on the task. But I guess it makes little difference in practice.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:19 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:So the Finalizer 96k sits on the shelf unused. I turn it on once in a while to warm the circuits and I've done a few tests with it that seem to sound rather nice but I think Ozone 9 is a better bet although part of me really wants to get to the point where I can a) use the Finalizer properly and b) know if/when/why I should do so over Ozone. There is a c) involving acoustic treatment and my studio but that plan is underway. Whether a) and b) comprise a pipe dream I don't know but it's a handsome decoration in the meantime so I've not lost sleep over it.

I've played with one a little - the Finalizer is a cool piece of kit but it doesn't do anything that Ozone can't do, while the opposite isn't true (for example, the Finalizer MB comp's got only 3 bands).

Back when it came out it was awesome because it packaged many boxes into one (so I've heard... back then all I knew of audio was the engineer on the other side of the glass in the control room).. massive saving in space and money and really good quality. Now of course that's no longer an issue at all for most people.

About quality - within what they both can do - there's little difference: nobody would be able to tell what you've used - so long of course you know what you're doing.

The haptics are as always the main difference. I don't do mastering (except to pseudo-master demos so they sound good to the band), but while I do like Ozone and I think it's brilliant, I always find it hard to really tweak it - so many controls, so little space and the mouse feels exactly the same everywhere.. you have no physical feedback. Especially the MB compressor, I find it hard to really work it.

With the Finalizer, you don't look much - you just push the "band" and "parameter" buttons and turn the knobs while listening (or at most looking at the meter). It's not as good as an actual MB compressor where you have separate knobs for each band and control, but more direct than any plugin can be, simply because you have the physical feel of rotating the knob.

With these things it's just a matter of trying enough to become comfortable with it and see if it makes your life easier or not (or more fun!).

It still looks really cool tough, which is no bad reason for having it in a rack! (or have a rack in the first place) :D
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Zukan » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:23 am

CS70 wrote:
Sometimes it comes natural to me to think in terms of one or or the other, depending on the task. But I guess it makes little difference in practice.

TBH CS, I never really think about it. I just use what there is for a given task. Nowadays, more and more dynamic processors are coming with additional tools that grey the area between one process to another.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:07 am

Unlike Fol, I might be a little bit more confused that I was.

What I'm taking from this is:

1) The concepts come from specific hardware inspiration, hence the different names and approaches,

2) They overlap in the sense that they are sensitive to specific frequencies at input and react to modify the gain at that frequency range, depending on a) defined crossover points (MBC) or b) defined frequency and bandwidth Q (DynEQ),

3) They can be employed to solve similar problems and do it in a similar way, i.e., control the gain of a defined Hz band, dependant on input.

I'm less fussy than some in what I'll consider acceptable so the nuances are probably lost on me. If there's not much more than that then I'm happy enough to carry on with MBC without fearing I'm missing out.
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:31 am

Zukan wrote:
CS70 wrote:
Sometimes it comes natural to me to think in terms of one or or the other, depending on the task. But I guess it makes little difference in practice.

TBH CS, I never really think about it. I just use what there is for a given task. Nowadays, more and more dynamic processors are coming with additional tools that grey the area between one process to another.

Yes indeed. I guess it's just habit.. the first time I had to solve a specific problem (for example, I had fret noise on an electric bass line I'd received) I thought "hey, why not squash down only the upper frequencies when they go over a certain limit" and set up a MB compressor to nuke the band using a threshold/attack/release frame of mind. It worked perfectly so if I've just stuck with it every time that kind of issue appears.

With guitar parts for example I started by thinking in terms of EQ, it worked and that's what I've done ever since :)
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Re: Dynamic EQ vs Multiband Compressor (ref Virtual Sosage meet eight)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:41 am

Thanks for digging that reference out Martin, I think that helps me.

Even though they apparently can do similar things I’ve always considered (perhaps erroneously) that multi-band compression is something I’d use on a buss, usually master buss, whereas dynamic eq is something I’d apply to a track which requires attention. So I guess I view multi-band compression as a finishing tool whereas dynamic EQ is an incisive tool.

As I mentioned in the conversation, I stopped using multi-band compression sometime ago - maybe because I’m better now at sorting out problems further up the chain - or maybe not :(

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