As you develop into your own workflow tendencies, new ideas become fewer and far between. You start to find your own rhythm to tracking, mixing & mastering. While there are always new plugins coming out that you’ll need to learn as you go, there are fundamental mistakes that engineers make when it comes to multi-band processing. Here’s how you can avoid them:
Tweaking More Than You Need
The best thing about multi-brand processors is their ability to isolate the frequencies that you want to adjust while leaving the rest of the signal unaffected. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get overly ambitious when you load a plugin with 3 or more bands ready for you. Ask yourself –
“What am I trying to accomplish?”
If your answer is that each band needs some tweaking, then that’s great. Go for it.
But if you’re really just looking for a way to adjust the bass or treble frequencies, shut the other bands off and isolate the problem you’re trying to fix. The way to do this can vary by plugin, with labels such as “Bypass” or “On/Off”. In the case of Transify, JST’s multi-band transient processor, we’ve included an “On” button at the top of each band for easy adjustment, and an LED so you can see what’s currently affecting your signal.
Not Choosing Your Own Bands
Any good multi-band processor is going to let you select the frequency range of at least some of its bands. This is most important in the midrange, where most of your content is going to live, but can also be extremely useful when trying to tighten the low-end of an instrument or mix.
If you’re just loading up the stock instance of your multi-band plugin and going right into
tweaking compression or transient settings, you’re giving up a tone of control over the musicality of your adjustments. What do I mean by that?
I mean that no two instruments are the same, so why would you treat them like they are? Your kick drum on every mix isn’t going to react the same to multi-band processing, so you should be doing everything in your power to set your cutoff in a way that gets the most out of it. The same goes for your snare, toms, and just about everything else you might use a multi-band processor.
Keep control over your multi-band processors; don’t let them control you.
The Biggest Mistake: Not Using Them
Just like giving up cut-off control is giving up a part of your processor’s power, not using multi-band processors at all is like using a flathead screwdriver for every screw you come across.
Will it work? You can probably get where you need to, but your job will be infinitely more difficult.
By using a standard compressor or transient designer, you’ll be affecting everything in the frequency spectrum. Worse yet, everything in the spectrum will be affecting your processor.
This usually means you can’t adjust sustain on the body of a tom without it getting triggered by the higher frequency of the initial hit (or even bleed from another tom or snare). If you’re processing on a sub-group or master fader, you’re giving up even more control and end up settling for something less than perfection.
Until you’ve tried a multi-band processor, you might not even really notice what you’re giving up. I get constant feedback from engineers that the first time they load Transify on their drums, their entire mix approach changed.
The biggest change? More control - which translates to more free time to focus on other parts of the mix.
Have Multi-Band Processors Improved Your Workflow?
If you’ve found a particular multi-band plugin has improved your workflow, we’d love to hear about it in the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum.
New to multi-band processing? Check out some of our other tips to getting the most out of them. Some of our favorite uses include using them to beef up your drum busses and tightening the low-end of kick drums.