The Best Multiband Compression Mastering Settings

Multiband compression is a useful tool for adding a little cohesion or nudging the profile of your audio in one direction or the other. While it can be used on a bus or even a track level, arguably multiband compression is best suited for the audio mastering stage. Here are the best multiband compression master settings which I use as part of my setup at

Multiband Compression in Mastering

As with any processing you use in the audio mastering stage, you generally shouldn’t have to be too aggressive here. My favorite multiband compression master settings reflect this as I’m just looking to shore up what we’re already working with.

If you ever find yourself needing to really roll up your sleeves in the mastering stage, that’s typically a sign of something which would yield better results if it was addressed back in the mixing stage.

Getting back to the multiband compression mastering settings I usually employ and tweak, I call this the “glue” setup:

multiband compressor on master bus

This is a standard four band multiband compression setup: one for the lows and sub frequencies, one for the low-mids and mids, one for the mid-high frequencies, and one for the top end.

The first thing you’ll notice is that each band’s ratio is roughly 1.5:1 or lighter. Again, this is more about gluing things together, and the greater ratios are used just as much to provide a bit more control over their sections as they are to let the more lightly compressed bands shine through more.

The beauty of this setup is that it’s versatile in that you can tweak or even flip the ratios as you see fit to favor a warmer mix, or leave it as for a slightly cleaner, crisper mix.

1-120Hz (Low End)

Ratio 1.6:1, 70% Attack, 10% Release, 36dB Knee

Like any band we’re treating here, the low end of our mix can be compressed more to provide a little more cohesion as necessary. Check out my low end mixing tutorial for a complete overview on how to make sure your low end doesn’t need any extra attention when it gets to the mastering stage.

Note that I’m using FabFilter’s Pro-MB multiband compressor, so the attack and release on your multiband may be represented as times. Suffice to say that you want at least 5-10ms on your attack on each of these bands to keep the mix punch intact across your entire master via the transients.

The thresholds I’m setting for each of these bands is set at roughly the quietest point. We want to make sure we’re generally including the entire dynamic range for compression with the peaks obviously being the most attenuated albeit a relatively light ratio to create that glue.

We’re also using soft knees on each band. At 36dB, this is the hardest of all of the them, but it’s still relatively soft and compressing the audio even below the threshold. This goes back to the idea that we’re just smoothing everything out here with subtlety.

120-1200Hz (Low-Mids, Mids)

Ratio 1.5:1, 65% Attack, 10% Release, 48dB Knee

Our next band tackles the low-mids and into the genuine mids from 120-1200Hz. Our 1.5 ratio is higher relative to the top two bands.

This multiband compression mastering setup which I displayed above is tailored more to favoring the top end by compressing more of everything below 1200Hz. This yields a brighter, crisper mix.

If we want to nudge our master to a warmer sound, again we’d simply flip these ratios, applying a 1.2:1 ratio to this band.

Once again, we’re using a soft knee and a very low threshold to treat the entire band generously, albeit at a light ratio.

We’re still using a generous amount of attack to let those peaks come through before the compression pulls them down, keeping everything especially transparent.

1200-9000Hz (High-Mids, High Frequencies)

Ratio 1.2:1, 30% Attack, 10% Release, 48dB Knee

We’re letting up on the high-mid and high frequencies with a lighter, near totally transparent ratio of 1.2:1 at 1200-9000Hz.

Again, if you want to favor a warmer master, then apply a higher ratio here, flipping the 1.5 of the low-mids/mids band with the 1.2 here.

The effect is not unlike creating a tiny boost and cut in the low-mids/mids and high-mids/high frequencies, respectively via an EQ, but the adjustment is dynamic and changes with what’s going on in the master.

9000+Hz (Top End)

Ratio 1.1:1, 10% Attack, 20% Release, 48dB Knee

On the highest band of 9k and up you’ll see we’ve slashed the attack, but at a 1.1 to 1 ratio, it’s almost like a placebo band.

We generally don’t want or need to compress the air out of our master, so this is as light a compression as we can apply to differentiate from the previous band.

Even if I were favoring a warmer mix, I likely wouldn’t flip the 1.6 ratio of the low end and apply it here. Let the top end sing, and as always if there’s any issues, make sure you address it in the mixing stage when possible.

So there you go, multiband compression settings for the mastering stage. Use this alongside other processing like master EQ which I also use on my master bus to put the final finishing touches and gloss on your master to get it ready for release like the pros.

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