Single-band vs Multi-band Compression

Tom Jun 07, 2021

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Single-band vs Multi-band Compression

Hey Producer,
Today’s blog is a nice overview on Single band vs Multiband Compression.

Compression is topic that can take up a lot of pages, so we’ve really streamlined this for you in today’s blog. What is compression? A little terminology: Dynamics: from very soft to very loud volume and all the levels in between is known as dynamics. A compressor very simply is a smart volume control for dynamics. There are many types of compressors, but today, we look at single band and multiband; and Bronwen from has a cool video on how to create your own Multiband compressor which is really useful for both Mastering and Mixing processes.

Single-band Compressors:
A single band compressor processes the entire frequency range of the incoming signal. All frequency content is affected equally. This is good practice for well-balanced material and is still a preferred method of mix engineers. It is tricky to use single band compressors on a Mix Buss. You will need to really listen to how the whole mix is influenced by the compressor settings. Mix Buss Compression is great to help to ‘gel’ or ‘glue’ a mix; but it can pose a problem in the mastering stage. Use your ears and watch those meters. Zero really means zero! Leave enough headroom for the mastering stage.

Multi-band Compressors:
In multiband compressors, the frequency spectrum of the track is divided into different bands so that different compression can be applied to the different frequency bands. The frequency band splits happen using a series of crossover filters, where the low-pass & high-pass filters of two adjacent band-pass filters intersect. The filter slopes ensure that the amplitude (level) is constant at the crossover points, so the signal near the crossover points are not really affected. Each resulting frequency band in the multiband compressor then has its own dedicated compressor, with variations on the typical controls found on a compressor: threshold, ratio, attack, release, knee and makeup gain.

So, here are the steps to make your own Multiband compressor using the standard plugins that come with most DAWs.

  1. Take your original stereo mix and duplicate it onto 3 new audio tracks.
  2. Call the track you imported: “original”
  3. Now, on the first duplicate track, add a low pass filter at 120Hz.
  4. Name the track ‘low’
  5. On the second duplicate track, set up band pass filtering with low pass at 8KHz and High Pass at 120Hz
  6. Name the track ‘mid’
  7. On the last duplicate track, add a high pass filter at 8KHZ
  8. Name the track ‘high’
  9. Insert a compressor onto the 1st duplicated track.
  10. Copy that same compressor onto the other two duplicates.
  11. Bypass the compressors

So, what has been done is to create the low, mid and high range bands for the track. When you play all three tracks together, they will sound identical to the original. But, play each track separately and you will hear which frequencies will be processed by the individual compressors set up on each track. 

You now have the power to control the dynamics of each frequency band independently! And shape the sound dynamically. This is really powerful as a dynamic EQ option.

More power to ya.
The r-loops team!

USED SAMPLE PACK (2Deep - Billie 3):