Ableton Live 9 ~ Multiband Dynamics

"The Multiband Dynamics device is a flexible tool for modifying the dynamic range of audio material.” - Ableton Reference Manual

But what is Dynamic Range? Dynamic range is the difference between the loudest and the quietest portion of a sound. If you want to alter the dynamic range of a sound, you basically have two options. Compression or Expansion. Ableton’s Multiband Dynamics DOES BOTH.

Compression can be broken down into two categories. Downward Compression and Upward Compression. Downward Compression is when you lower the amplitude of a sound that travels above a threshold. This one you’re probably familiar with. It’s what we practice when using traditional compressors to minimize peaks. And then Upward Compression is when we raise the amplitude of a sound that travels below a threshold. Here we're taking the quiet parts of a sound and moving them closer to the louder parts. The entire purpose of downward and upward compression is to decrease the dynamic range.

Expansion, which is the exact opposite of compression, aims to increase the dynamic range. It is most commonly known for lowering the amplitude of a sound that travels below a threshold, making quieter sounds even more quieter. The proper term for this is downward expansion. And if you’re familiar with Ableton’s gate plugin, it does exactly that. On the flip side, Upward Expansion, which a little less common, raises the amplitude of a sound that travels above a threshold.

Multiband Dynamics does this independently across three different frequency bands, which all have adjustable crossover points as well as dedicated envelope controls for each band. Oh, and each band has it’s own upper and lower threshold, which in theory provides 6 simultaneous types of dynamics processing.

In this Ableton Live 9 tutorial, I breakdown every parameter within Multiband Dynamics and also give a demonstration of it’s use by downward compressing and upward compressing one of my WIPs. I wish you luck with your Multiband Dynamics endeavors.

And as always... RTFM! :)


00:16 = Overview
02:03 = Frequency Band Split
04:51 = Threshold/Ratio Display
09:08 = TBA Edit Modes
12:01 = Soft Knee & RMS/Peak
12:51 = Global
13:25 = Sidechain
15:36 = Multiband Compression Demo


Previous article Making Sound #17