At the top of the food chain of dynamics processing is the multiband compressor. Really many compressors mashed into one, these giants of processing power can suavely and smoothly contour a full mix or a track of dialog into nearly anything you want. But which one to choose? Let’s find out in this binary multiband compressor shootout!
A multiband compressor can be defined as a series of single-band compressors working independently on a limited frequency range.
Single-band compressors have been around for decades. Next to a fader or an EQ, the compressor is the most important audio signal processor. The trouble with single-band compressors stems from their vulnerability to strong energy ocalized at a particular frequency. For example: if you had a nice bit of dialog being contoured 3-5 dB at a nice 3:1 ratio, but then in the middle of a sentence there was a really loud rumble at 100 Hz, the overall sound would penetrate the threshold of the compressor and the entire dialog track would be attenuated strongly. It would sound like some crazy person ratcheted down the fader on the mix for no reason.
In a multiband example, the low frequency rumble would be nicely attenuated by the low frequency band, and the rest of the sound would be unaffected. Totally dope. You can also use multiband compression to do the work of an EQ, and, indeed, a MBC is a better choice than an EQ in a dynamic track or bus.
In the clip below, I take the built in – and amazing – Adobe Audition multi-band compressor and contrast it against the – equally amazing – iZotope Ozone 7 multiband compressor. Ironically, both plugins are powered by iZotope algorithms, but they are generations of technology apart. Still, let’s see if the implementation of these functional swiss army knives levels the playing field or creates a chasm between them.
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