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Volume 3, Number 10, December 2005
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Plug-In Power: UAD Precision Multiband Mastering Compressor

The UAD Precision Multiband Compressor/Expander/Gate, coming soon!

With the release of the UAD-1 4.1 software and drivers, the UAD Precision series of products has been expanded to three incredible mastering plug-ins. The Precision Multiband Mastering Compressor (PMB for short) provides essential multiband processing for the professional or novice mastering engineer. Included in version 4.1, the PMB should be available soon, and will cost $249 at my.uaudio.com. This article discusses some of the features of the PMB and illustrates them with movies.

“The Precision Multiband Mastering Compressor provides essential multiband processing for the professional or novice mastering engineer.”

The PMB provides five spectral bands of dynamic range control, and each band features compression, expansion or gate. You get control over the attack, release, threshold, ratio and level of each compression band. This allows you to use the Precision Multiband for anything from complex dynamic control to simple de-essing, as well as creative gating and compression of mono and stereo sources. The PMB also offers two filterbank modes: linear-phase or minimum-phase gain control. Linear phase is more accurate but takes more DSP, while minimum phase is reminiscent of analog multiband compressors. We also included a Mix control, as well as input and output controls.

For the examples below, 1 and 2 sound best on full-range monitors, as small speakers and headphones can't reproduce the low frequencies adequately. Example 3 was designed to make bass-heavy material sound good on small speakers and headphones. Also, all three examples are a little more extreme for demo purposes.

In Example 1, I use the PMB on some rock material. The kick was a little loud, so I enabled a compressor in the low-frequency (LF) band. You can see that the width of the bands can be adjusted right on the graphic display. To add some punch, I enabled an expander in the Mid Low (LMF) band. Notice how I increase the expansion ratio and the effect is audible, and the graphic display updates as well. I also set up a compressor in the High Mid (HMF) band between to tame the guitar solo a bit. Finally, I set up an expander to give slight boost to the high frequencies above 5 kHz. Then I manipulate the Mix control to taste.

Example 1

In Example 2, I use the Precision Multiband on an electronic drum track. I've set up an expander on the low frequencies (LF) between 0 and 60 Hz, which gives the bass quite a boost. But this can put too much low-frequency energy into a limiter following the Precision Multiband, and thus use up a lot of the limiter's headroom. So I put a compressor on the low-mid (LMF) frequency band between 174 and 506 Hz to give the low frequencies more headroom in the limiter. As you can see, to expose each band's controls, all I need to do is click inside the band on the graphical display, and the controls for that band appear. You can also see how much the gain reduction or expansion I am applying to each band in the gain meters. I then apply a compressor to the Hi Mid (HMF) band to tame the hand claps a bit, and then apply an expander to the HF band to bring out the shaker and hi-hat.

Example 2

In Example 3, I want this bass-heavy dance track to sound better on smaller speakers. I set up a compressor on the low frequencies, and an expander on the low mid frequencies.

Example 3

As you can see, the Precision Multiband Compressor is extremely effective as a tone-shaping tool on both program and electronic drums. In a future Plug-In power article, I'll show you how the gates work and how to use the Precision Multiband as a de-esser. In the mean time, you can also read more details about the PMB on the product Web page.

Questions or comments on this article?