How to Use Multiband Compression in Ableton Live

One of my favorite uses of Multiband Compression is to use it to add a little extra punch and clarity to the low end of my mix. I’ll show you how I do that in the video below. Multiband compression is an effect that allows you to isolate and compress different “bands” or areas of the frequency spectrum. This means that you can compress, say, the bass and the kick drum together without squashing the entire signal. While this won’t be the end of your tricks for mastering audio, it’ll be a good start!

To understand why we’d want to do that, it might first be important to remember what Compression does. It allows you to raise the perceived volume of a signal because it attenuates the volume spikes that might cause distortion. With compression, you can raise the average volume of a signal, but often at the expense of dynamics, since the distance between the quiet and the loud sections of the signal will be closer together.

One way that we can have our cake and compress it, too, is to apply more compression to areas of the signal that may not have that much dynamic variation, such as a kick drum. Usually a kick drum is playing or not. There’s very seldom a reason, in electronic music, to have quieter and louder hits of the kick drum. So, squashing this frequency range and leaving the rest untouched, will allow you to raise the perceived volume of these parts without sacrificing the overall dynamics of the track.

In this little video, I show you how to do just that. I also illustrate (unwittingly!) some common missteps when applying this kind of compression, so be sure to look out for these and not to fall in the same traps that I do!

2 Responses to “How to Use Multiband Compression in Ableton Live”

  1. Du-ality April 21, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Thanks for this one. Trying it out on a track right now. I like where that track is going a lot. Where did you get that flute sound? Is it a song sliced to midi?

    • Anthony April 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Yeah! I love that technique. I sliced up a sample from a brazilian track called Estrada Branca.

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