What are you scared about this Halloween? If you’re like most us, chances are you’re scared of mastering.
Mastering is like black magic. Especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. You just insert the typical processors that the mastering engineers use and then you pray for the best.
Usually, the results are less than desirable. Squashed, muddy and lifeless.Exactly the opposite of what you were trying to do.
And if there’s one processor that causes the most amount of frustration while mastering, it’s the compressor. More, specifically the multiband compressor.
Better Masters with Great Multiband Compression
A multiband compressor splits your audio into different frequency bands.
In a fully mixed, 2-track master you have all your instruments playing at once. With multiband compression you can split the compressor into a few different bands so that it compresses certain frequency bands differently.
It’s helpful for tightening up your low end without squashing the vocals or guitars, creating dynamic and punchy masters.
I’m no mastering engineer, but my friend Ian over at Production Advice is. He knows that not everyone can take their mixes to a professional mastering engineer, and he gives away a lot of his secrets over at his blog.
One of those secrets is how to use the multiband compressor.
Like he says himself:
That’s it !
So, for example you might choose to apply particular compression settings to sounds only up to around 160 Hz – to help control the bass end without causing pumping in the high frequencies, for example.
That’s multiband compression – and a multiband compressor is just a plugin or piece of hardware designed to make doing that as easy and powerful as possible. (Well, in theory, anyway – in practice lots of multiband processors I’ve tried are actually very fiddly and confusing to set up, unfortunately.)
There are lots of benefits to this approach – it’s easier to lift the average level without pumping and distortion, you can be much more aggressive with EQ, and there are some clever techniques that allow you to sculpt the sound to an amazing degree.
And that’s why multiband compression is useful in mastering – you can apply surgical processing to only one part of the audio, without messing up the rest. This is exactly the kind of control a mastering engineer needs – to subtly enhance or radically re-shape a mix.
Jump over to his blog and read the rest of the article. Multiband compression seems like a complex processor, but it really isn’t. Ian’s post takes much of the mystery out of it. If you’ve ever been confused about multiband compression(like I have) then read the article at his site. Learning to work the multiband compressor will definitely help out your masters.
Image by: hanna_horwarth