Multi-Band Compressors

compressors mastering May 09, 2016

If you feel like your songs always end up pumping when you get to the mastering stage, you could be driving your compressor too hard. You might find yourself backing off to get rid of the pumping. But by backing off, it loses the glue. So what do you do?

Be careful with a regular compressor on a master. There’s nothing wrong with using one, but if you have heavy kick/bass content it could cause the song to pump.

Try using a multi-band compressor as a solution to pumping.

Multi-band compressors allows you to control different frequencies (think of a compressor-EQ) with different amounts of compression. So if your bass/kick is overpowering the song, you can treat 120hz and below rather than the entire spectrum. I love iZotope’s Ozone or Alloy for this but most, if not all DAWs have a multi-band compressor included.

All the knobs, meters, bells, whistles, and tweakable parameters get really overwhelming. When I first started using them I was intimidated and afraid because I didn’t know where to start. If you find yourself intimidated and afraid, you’re not alone. A great way to tackle that fear is by pretending there’s only one compressor that you’re dealing with. For example, pretend that no other bands exist other than the low end (if you’re trying to control the low end).

By mentally blocking out the other bands, you relieve yourself the stress of feeling like you need to tweak all bands.

Guess what? You don’t. If you’re trying to control the low end, just focus on that and don’t worry about the other stuff. Once you start feeling comfortable with how that works, then you can start moving up the bands and working with those. One at a time!


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