FabFilter Pro-MB Multiband Compressor/Expander Plug-in
(first published in CX magazine – June, 2014)
One of my favourite plug-in developers in recent years has, without doubt, been two guys from the Netherlands who call themselves FabFilter. I’ve got their entire suite of plug-ins and use them every day. Across the board, these plug-ins are great sounding and fantastically intuitive to use.
The newest of them is the Pro-MB multi-band compressor/expander; a brilliantly ergonomic yet comprehensive plug-in that allows you to compress or expand bands of frequencies either independently of one another – i.e., without them being linked via standard crossovers – or conventionally as per a standard multi-band layout.
The plug-in is fantastically phase coherent – in fact, the Pro-MB even lets you choose a ‘linear phase’ mode if you want to be sure to minimise the effects the filters are having on the coherence of your sounds. The result is a superb sounding set of controls that give you the confidence to work them hard, without fearing your sound will start to get edgy and harsh the moment you customise the filters.
Unlike so many multi-bands on the market, the Pro-MB is a doddle to use, easy to read and completely intuitive. When you open up the plug-in it initially just looks like a flat-lined EQ, but hover the curser inside the window and immediately a band appears awaiting for your single mouse click to drop it into place.
You can do this up to six times, with each band given its own colour scheme and floating control set. It’s a genius layout. Click on another band and the floating controls slide across to represent the setting of that band.
There’s an enormous feature set: from look-ahead control, side-chaining features, scaling of the graphic layout, a pre/post spectrum analyser, a mix control, and a comprehensive group of rotary knobs that control each band. But what’s remarkable is that, for all its features, there’s never a time where the Pro-MB gets confusing, hard to read or flummoxing under pressure.
I could go on and on about this plug-in, and get caught up in an explanation of how valuable a good multi-band is to mixing, but I daren’t put you through it. Suffice it to say this is amazing must-have plug-in if you take your digital mixing seriously.
I couldn’t live without FabFilter plug-ins any more. They’re that good.