Multiband compressor plug-ins are great for tools for enhancing or glueing mixes together. These types of plug-ins enable users to compress and shape dynamics of more than one frequency band hence the term multiband. Conventional compressors generally process audio dynamics across the entire frequency range, multiband compressor plug-ins are more of a precision tool enabling users to compress user specified bands within the frequency spectrum.
Typical applications for multband compressors plug-ins are in mix bus and mastering stages when dynamics often need either a broad-brush or surgical approach to get mixes sounding polished fast. There are several third party multiband compressor plug-ins available, in this article, I highlight some my favourite multiband compressor plug-ins below, starting in no particular order:
Waves Linear Phase Multiband Compressor
The Waves Linear Phase Multiband Compressor (named LinMB for short) has been around for a number of years and is, in my opinion, a classic Waves plug-in. Watch the free tutorial below to hear how LinMB glues a mix together and to see why I consider this to be a powerful dynamics tool for mix bus and mastering applications. If used gently the results of the LinMB plug-in are very transparent. The controls are effortless and extremely easy to set. An automatic makeup gain feature enables users to dial in the right amount of multiband compression without the ear being misled by level differences.
Visit the Waves website for more information on The Linear Phase Multiband plug-in.
Blue Cat's MB-5 Dynamix
Blue Cat's MB-5 Dynamix is so much more than just a multiband compressor plug-in, it's a fully featured multiband dynamics processor plug-in that also includes limiter, gate, expander and waveshaper processors that can either be used together or in different bands. The GUI is well designed with plenty of visual feedback that shows exactly what's going on in each dynamic processor.
Visit the Blue Cat Audio Website for more information about MB-5 Dynamix
If Blue Cat's MB-5 Dynamix plug-in takes your fancy then take a look at Blue Cat's MB-7 as this plug-in enables users to also mix in a similar multiband workflow but instead of having built-in processor units users can stack up custom third party plug-in chains (VST and AU plug-ins) to process multibands in Pro Tools. Watch our review below.
iZtope Multiband Dynamics - Neutron
Multiband processors are at the heart of many iZotope plug-ins such as Ozone, Trash and Neutron. The multiband compressor in Neutron though, it's a different animal featuring two types of compressor behaviours described by iZotope as Clean Modern or Colourful Vintage. The multiband compressor modules in Neutron can be used with the smart Track Assist feature that listens to audio offering mixing start points.
A separate multiband compressor component plug-in is also available called Neutron Compressor - available as part of Neutron Advanced. What I like most about the Neutron multiband compressor plug-in is the mix blend control on each band, great for dialling back in some unprocessed audio for nice transparent glue like results. Sadly this multiband compressor only offers three bands, truth be told though, three bands are often enough.
Visit the iZotope website for more information about Neutron
Softube Drawmer S73 & 1973
Review - Softube Drawmer S73
Review - Softube Drawmer 1973
In 2016 Softube released two multiband compressor plug-ins bearing the Drawmer name. The S73 was the first out of the two to be released and was loosely based on the Drawmer 1973 hardware. Softube describes the S73 as an intelligent mastering processor that makes using multiband compression quick and easy. The S73 features a selection of carefully tuned presets, select a sound that works and blend it in. Watch our review to hear how the S73 performs on several mastering examples.
Soon after the release of S73 Softube unsurprisingly released the full Drawmer 1973 plug-in emulation of the 1973 hardware. The 1973 felt like a completely different product to the S73 as it seemed to cater more to the hardware purist or Drawmer fanboy. Both products are well worth checking out though. If you like multiband compression but don't like getting bogged down in the complexities of multiband compression then try the S73, for everything else the Drawmer 1973 will not disappoint
Visit the Softube website for more information about both the S73 and Drawmer 1973.
FabFilter Multiband Pro-MB
FabFilter plug-ins are tools for the modern producer. What makes the Pro-MB multiband compressor plug-in unique is that users can add up to six bands of compression and Pro-MB doesn't split the frequency spectrum up with crossovers like other multiband compressor plug-ins - in short, Pro-MB feels much more like an EQ in use which in turn makes Pro-MB a very intuitive way of working with multiband compression. Pro-MB is very similar to FabFilter's amazing EQ plug-in Pro-Q2 as both these plug-ins, in my opinion, are feature rich and are very much swiss army knives of their plug-in categories.
Visit the FabFilter website for more information about Pro-MB
UAD-2 Precision Multiband
The Precision Multiband plug-in for the UAD-2 platform is a great bread and butter dynamics tools that not only compresses but also expands and gates. Like Waves LinMB, this plug-in has also been around for a few years so compared to more modern alternatives this feels quite traditional - which isn't a bad thing let me tell you. Using multiband compression can sometimes be a challenge for beginners but a good way of developing a multiband compression workflow is to use straight forward tradional plug-ins such as The Precision Multiband.
Visit the Universal Audio website for more information about UAD-2 Precision Multiband plug-in
Avid Pro Multiband Compressor
The Avid Pro Multiband Compressor plug-in is one I have yet to try, however, both Russ and Julian use it in their workflows. Check both their tutorial videos out below showing how to use the Avid Pro Multiband. Out of all the multiband compressors in this list, the Avid Pro Multiband is the only multiband plug-in supported for AAX HDX.
Russ takes a look at the Avid Pro Series Multiband Dynamics. This plug-in has a couple of unique tricks up its sleeve, watch the video to find out what they are and to find out what Russ thinks.
In this video, Julian also takes a look at Pro Multiband Dynamics. A complex plug in that needs to be treated with respect as it can do great harm as well as great good in a mix. Julian demonstrates the features of this plug-in on an individual vocal track as well as on the mix buss.
Visit the Avid website for more information about the Avid Pro Multiband Compressor plug-in.