Audio engineer Scott Hirsch emphasizes an increased and focused control of dynamic range over specific audio frequencies for the voice through the use of a multiband compressor.
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- [Voiceover] Since we put so much focus on the lead vocal of a song, sometimes traditional EQ and compression leaves you still wanting more control over the dynamics of a voice. One tool that's extremely effective and useful in this regard is the multiband compressor. A multiband compressor acts just like a normal compressor, allowing you to narrow and focus the dynamic range of a voice, except in a multiband compressor, you can apply individual compression settings to specific frequency ranges.
In other words, for instance you can set up a moderate ratio compressor to work on the mid-range frequencies while you allow a gentler compression on the high mid's and then you can compress the highest frequencies with a much lower threshold. Let me show you how this works. So here I'm going to make a new insert and I'll choose PreSonus Studio One's multiband dynamics and I'll pull this like I did with my other compressor, in between the two EQ settings.
This is a high pass filter, this is my tonal shaping EQ and I'll just put it in the middle. Now when I double-click on it, we'll get to see the controls. So here we have one, two, three, four, five bands. Low, low mid, mid, high mid and high and each of those bands can have its very own compression settings. So we have nothing really going on in the lower mid's. Everything below 800 hertz we're going to leave that alone. In fact, we could even just bypass the low band because we're already filtering that out anyway with the EQ that comes before, but we do want to focus on the low mid's.
So I'm going to go ahead and click on that section and here I can start setting up my compressor. Now I'll set it up like I set up the just single band compressor, which is about a four to one ratio and right now I've got the attack and release set to auto. We'll just keep them there for now. So at this point I'm going to go ahead and hit play and I'm going to bring down the threshold until I start seeing same gain reduction and I'm just able to again grab the louder sounds.
This is just like what we did in the previous movie with our traditional compressor. We're trying to compress the louder signals and then leave the quieter signals alone. Although in this case we can be more specific about what we're doing in each frequency band. Okay so I'm going to hit play and I'm pulling the threshold down. I can see the gain reduction in this meter here.
Okay and it can also solo the frequency band on its own. If I solo the track, we'll really hear that. If you really want to hear what's going on you can do that but for now we'll leave that as is. I'll also do a little bit of make up gain to make up, I'm probably taking out about four or five decibels so I'll bring four or five decibels back in to that low range.
Okay now I'll move into the mid range. Here I'm going to be a little less aggressive with my compression so I'll set some compressor settings. Maybe I'll only compress this three to one and I'll be a little bit less aggressive with the threshold and I'll do some make up gain and then I'll move to, in this case, the high mid's.
Here I like what's going on typically in the singing, so I'm actually going to do very little with the high mid's. Notice how each band has much different gain sort of structure so the high mid's has a lot less going on. I actually have to bring the threshold down quite a bit to even do any compression in the high mid's. Somewhere around there. I'll keep the ratio at two to one and then the very highest energy stuff, I'm going to compress this a little bit more dramatically because this way I can take care of some of the sibilance in her voice so when she says s's, that's kind of activating a lot in this frequency range.
Although I'll move the frequency range to about 6.5 so I'm really dealing with everything above that frequency. I'll do a six to one ratio here and I'll pull the threshold down. In this case I won't do make up gain. So those are my initial settings and I can go ahead and bypass this and again, just like we did with the traditional compressor, we're looking to even out the dynamics so the phrases that really tail off and get swallowed, hopefully if we made our settings right, they should be able to sit better in the mix.
Only this time, I've got more control over the frequency bands so I left the middle of her voice alone while I more aggressively compress just the lower sounds and the higher sounds so it's just a way to take it one level deeper and really tailor your compression to what needs to happen in the frequency ranges and this is a really good tool if, for some reason, the microphone or your specific singer has a lot of build up in various frequencies and Eqing is sounding like you're really hearing the EQ when you EQ those frequency ranges which you don't want but by using a multiband compressor, you can gently tame those frequencies, maybe as just a range of notes that they're singing so that most of the song it's fine but when they move up in the chorus, all of a sudden there's too much energy at 500 hertz.
You can use your multiband compressor just to clamp down on those frequencies and in that way, it kind of acts like a hybrid between a EQ and a compressor. Let's take a listen to what we've done here. Okay start at the beginning. Here's with it, without it.
So it's doing that thing, especially there I really hear the end of that phrase. It's doing that thing where it's able to clamp down on the dynamics and make it sit a little bit better in the mix. Multiband compression allows one more layer of control and it's perfect if there's aspects of the voice you want to focus on and compress. While other aspects of the voice you want to leave alone and compress a lot more gently.
Audio engineer Scott Hirsch starts with comping the vocals—combining the best performances into one final vocal master take. He explains how to edit out breaths and other noises and fabricate a doubling effect for additional texture and vibe, and then brings in some plugins into the mix—Antares Auto-Tune, Melodyne, and iZotope—to tune vocals and create more interesting soundscapes. In the "Mixing" chapter, Scott enhances the sound of the vocals with EQ, compression, reverb, delay, and automation, adding life and motion to the song. The final track demonstrates everything you can do to maximize the effectiveness of vocals with Studio One.
- Comping takes in Studio One
- Editing breaths and noise
- Doubling and tuning vocals
- Experimenting with iZotope's Stutter Edit
- Processing vocals with EQ and compression
- De-essing vocals
- Using reverb, delay, and modulation effects
- Automating levels and FX in Studio One