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Using Multi-Band Compressor To Cut Instead Of High/Low EQ Cuts


HonestOpinion
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Saw some interesting posts over on The Gear Page(TGP) and not being sure if this has appeared yet on the forum, posted it over here. The idea indicated by the post I saw was thanks to a user named benefin.  The approach is to use the multi-band compressor instead of high/low EQ cuts to cut the boom/mud on the bottom end and ice-pick/shrillness on the high end. This way you can use the multi-bandcompressor to reduce instead of cutting the frequencies below for example 90hz and above 5khz.

 

Essentially you have the compressor either ignore or gently compress the midrange while having it much more dramatically compress the low and high end (note the -30db setting below). Seems like a very interesting and appealing concept. Set properly it might do a good job of attenuating the problem frequencies e.g. below 90hz and above 5k without cutting them out completely(albeit using a slope) as a high/low pass filter does. In other words the compressor unlike the EQ cuts will still allow the designated frequencies through but at much lower volume, as opposed to cutting them completely as a high/low filter cut might.

 

Anyone doing this right now, if so, is it yielding a better tone that using high/low EQ cuts? What settings are you using?

 

Some recommended multi-band compressor settings(with some settings missing/optional) from Benefin also from TGP:

Ratio = 4:1
Attack = 10ms
Release = 50ms
Lo X Freq = 90hz
Hi X Freq =5 k
Level = As Needed
Lo Thresh = -30 db

Lo Gain = ?
Mid Thresh = ?
Mid Gain = ?

Hi Thresh = -30 db
Hi Gain = ?

 

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Well I guess going about it this way makes it appear as though we're leaving more frequencies intact, but to what end? When all is said and done, we're still subjectively determining whether or not something sounds good, and sits well in the mix. This seems like a whole lot of extra manipulation, just to arrive at the same place... last thing I need are even more parameters to tinker with.

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2 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

Well I guess going about it this way makes it appear as though we're leaving more frequencies intact, but to what end? When all is said and done, we're still subjectively determining whether or not something sounds good, and sits well in the mix. This seems like a whole lot of extra manipulation, just to arrive at the same place... last thing I need are even more parameters to tinker with.

 

Agree with your point addressing sitting in the mix and granted the multi-band compressor is definitely trickier to set than a high/low cut. Regarding to what end, I think the intention is that by reducing/compressing rather than eliminating problem frequencies this approach may help out users who find that when they apply their high and low cuts with high/low bandpass EQ filters they are also losing frequencies they wanted to retain.  At this point many probably resort to more surgical multiple parametric or graphic EQ cuts. For those users they may actually find using the multi-band compressor to be less work and fewer blocks.

 

Anyway, pure speculation on my part as I just saw the post suggesting this and have not attempted it yet. Just seems like a promising or at least alternative approach to the usual approach of taming the low/high end with high/low EQ cuts, perhaps particularly useful for FRFR users. If it turns out to be a superior sounding(subjective) and subtler method for cutting the high/low end I will be a fan.

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Compressors have a threshold and isn't that what differentiates them from a gain or eq reduction?  So at lower volumes, before the threshold is reached, the frequencies would not be attenuated, but at higher volume the multi-band compressor would essentially act as an EQ in that frequency range.

 

So the difference is having control of at what volume (threshold) a frequency range is attenuated.

 

...is my understanding.  Not cometely sure if this would be good or bad when we're talking about taming highs and lows in a cabinet model.

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16 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

[...] When all is said and done, we're still subjectively determining whether or not something sounds good, and sits well in the mix. [...]

 

But it's still valid to suggest new and different ways to get to that subjective good sound. Wouldn't this sentiment undermine much of the purpose of this forum in the first place--i.e., discussing different ways to use the Helix?

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10 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

Although it's intellectually interesting it seems like the cadillac approach to a volkswagen problem............

 

I haven't found EQ'ing the Helix to be a "Volkswagen problem" at all. Getting the EQ right on the high and low end via FRFR without stripping away frequencies I want to retain has actually been one of my biggest challenges on the Helix. If there is a simple and better way to do it I'm all ears. I'm definitely not going to write it off without experimentation and a fair trial. I think some of the resistance to this idea is lack of familiarity with the multi-band compressor as it is a tool that guitarists don't often employ unless they run sound as well and it is not that common there yet either. But maybe this method doesn't even work well, have not tried it yet and it remains unproven at least for me. And hey, I'll take a Cadillac over a Volkswagen any day of the week but I get your Occam's Razor point. :-)

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Oh, don't get me wrong I'm not dismissing the idea out of hand.  It makes logical sense.  I guess it's all in your perspective.  I can't really say I've struggled at all in the last maybe two years or so managing EQ problems in my patches.  I've found the simplest and quickest ways to get me what I want using a final parametric EQ and the crossover split  (thanks to Jason Sadites on that one).  Not to say if I get a few extra cycles to play with this idea I might dive into it.  It's just not a compelling issue for me so much any more.  But..YMMV.

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3 hours ago, rzumwalt said:

 

But it's still valid to suggest new and different ways to get to that subjective good sound. Wouldn't this sentiment undermine much of the purpose of this forum in the first place--i.e., discussing different ways to use the Helix?

 

My point was simple: 

 

If you're currently happy with your sound...however the hell you got there... then why reinvent the wheel? Pulling my patches apart in favor of a more complicated process of getting right back to where I already was, has absolutely no appeal for me. I'd be changing things around, just for the sake of changing things around...I got enough to do. 

 

Do what you like though... either way,  continuing a philosophical debate on whether or not this is a swell idea makes even less sense than undoing the last year of work I've put in with Helix, .... I surrender, lol. 

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The differenence between EQ and compression is that EQ is static while compression (can be) dynamic. By this I mean that when you use EQ to cut lows and highs (to give more mid focus for guitar), those EQ setting effect the guitar signal regardless of the volume. Quiet passages will get the same tone shaping as loud passages.

 

But often, that’s not what we want for guitar. When the guitar is turned down, we want a more scooped tone with low and high end boosted to give a nice full rich clean tone. As we turn the guitar up, and add distortion, we need the opposite: low cut to reduce mud, high cut to keep the distortion from being too fizzy and ice-pick, and mid focused to help make the louder leads cut through the mix. 

 

Now this could be done with a multi-band compressor. You could set the threshold and ratio for the low and high bands to compress more as the guitar is louder, providing the desired mid focus. But this doesn’t work well in practice. Partly this is because there’s likely a fair amount of distortion in most people’s clean tone. This is needed to give better sustain, and add some high frequency content the electric guitar just doesn’t produce and the typical guitar speakers are challenged to reproduce. This is kind of what an exciter does. If you put the compressor before any of this distortion, then any dynamic tone shaping it might do will be partially lost by clipping that comes after the compressor. If you put the compressor after this distortion, then it doesn’t see the guitar’s dynamic range as much and therefore doesn’t have as much to work with, limiting its overall effect.

 

So the solution might be, don’t try to do this automatically with a multi-band compressor, do it manually with multiple distortion pedals into a clean amp to give you the tone shaping and dynamics you need. Use the gain staging of one to three distortion pedals into the front end of a gained up amp, plus the volume control on your guitar, to get a really wide range of dynamics and tone that are completely under your control.

 

Where I think a multi-band compressor might be really useful is for mostly clean tones that have a wide (clean) dynamic range. Think of a Strat into a Twin Reverb. You could use the multi-band compressor to tame some of the lows and highs as the guitar volume is turned up, hitting compressor harder and making a more mid-focused tone. But once distortion is introduced, this may not work that well.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/7/2018 at 1:50 PM, cruisinon2 said:

 

My point was simple: 

 

If you're currently happy with your sound...however the hell you got there... then why reinvent the wheel? Pulling my patches apart in favor of a more complicated process of getting right back to where I already was, has absolutely no appeal for me. I'd be changing things around, just for the sake of changing things around...I got enough to do. 

 

Do what you like though... either way,  continuing a philosophical debate on whether or not this is a swell idea makes even less sense than undoing the last year of work I've put in with Helix, .... I surrender, lol. 

 

Ha ha, I'm not about to frag the dozens of hours spent hunched over my guitar A/B comparing the difference between treble = 3.2 vs treble = 3.6, either. 

 

But how dare you suggest that carrying on a philosophical debate over minutia elements of individual preset building preference having very little to no impact on anyone's actual enjoyment of their Helix isn't sensible? I must now retire to my bedchambers for the remainder of the night lest my dyspepsia become inflamed over this careless assault on Victorian manners. Good day, sir!

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I did this last night.

Even though I now use my mesa tc50 for my amp sounds, I still keep my old presets with amp models as well for backup or for doing a showcase type gig where we might only play 30 minutes.

 

Anyway, I tried it out on those amp model presets and immediately LOVED it.

Been fiddling with high and low cuts since I first got my helix in Oct. Of 2015.

This method did the trick, kept me from losing harmonic content in the high frequencies while getting rid of the harshness.

 

I only used it on my crunch and lead sounds. Not on my cleans.

Took me less than a couple of minutes to dial it in using the suggested parameters above. MUCH easier and far more natural sounding than eq cuts

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I have a Kemper and used a similar approach to pre-process the mic'd signal to make my favorite Kemper profile so far. So instead of feeding the Kemper the raw mic signal, it fed into my Helix where I had some processing like this. It worked really great - much better than hi-cuts to remove the unpleasant harshness and resulted in a very nice Kemper profile.

 

While doing this, I noted the Kemper's "Studio EQ' (analogous to Helix's Parametric EQ) had a "mix" parameter. That actually worked very nice also - so you'd dial in a hi-cut, but not at full mix, so it would still let some of the original through, but not all and you could cut any percentage of the signal you wanted. What that did was allow a natural sounding hi-cut without the result sounding boxy or stuffy. Cut's the unpleasant frequencies, but allowing enough through to still sound natural and open.

 

I immediately went to the Helix parametric EQ block and looks for a "Mix" parameter and was disappoint to not find one.

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