Melda Production's MSpectralDynamics Review & Beginner's Guide
Published on: October 07, 2019
Melda Production's MSpectralDynamics Review & Beginner's GuideIn my opinion, the MSpectralDnamics is the next big thing in spectral processing. However, it's not a magic fix for all of your problems, so I'd like to share some of my experiences with you and how you can best use it in your productions.What is it?According to Meldas website, MSpectralDynamics is a dynamics processor which works in the spectral domain allowing you to work with individual frequencies. As opposed to a normal multi-band compressor which works with bands and can sound unnatural and destroy your audio.MSpectralDynamics approximates the energy located in each frequency and its surroundings and applies the dynamics to that frequency accordingly.With spectral compression you can balance the spectral energy and increase loudness with few artifacts.Honestly, it doesnt look like theres a specific name for this type of processing in the industry, yet. In short, this processor is a compressor that affects a very large number of precise frequencies, unlike a multiband compressor which has a limited number of bands and affects much broader frequency ranges.Check out the video below for a more in-depth overview of the MSpectralDynamics.Who is it for?This plugin can be for any music producer, but it is especially useful for electronic musicians as it allows you to balance a spectrum that contains a lot of variation in register and dynamics. It allows for wider melodies, livelier dynamics, and more complex sound layering, while maintaining the balanced spectrum which is a major part of electronic music's appeal.What does it not do?It does not replace sound designing and layering.Remember, you cant boost a frequency thats not there. The richer the spectrum is on the input sound, the more use you can get out of the plugin.You need to ask yourself, If I attenuate the peaks in this signal, what am I left with? If you feed a sine wave through it, it will apply a gain reduction to the entire signal, because the resonant peak is the entire signal.If you feed a sample through it that has hot peaks, like a marimba or steel drum, it will increase the relative volume of the hammer noises, ruining its melodic potential.It also does not replace an EQ in most cases.Often times when mixing, we will want to completely remove frequencies from a sound and not just attenuate them, so an EQ will be the optimal tool for this.Also, an EQ is in most cases better for removing noise from certain bands like mic noise, sibilants, hammer noises, etc. In fact, low-cutting a signal before sending it to MSpectralDynamics is a great combo.The less noise a signal has, the more leeway you have to compress and balance the sound.GUIPictured above is the edit or advanced GUI of MSpectralDynamics.I use it almost exclusively. Even though the parameters are kind of arcane, its necessary to adjust them to prevent artifacts and other unwanted noise.The Analyser & Equalizer" in the top right of the plugin gives you a graphic display of just what the plugin is doing.The green spectrum is the input signal.The blue line at the top of the analyzer is the gain reduction for each band or specific frequency.The line labeled processor 1 is the threshold for what signal level MSpectralDynamics starts processing the signal.To hear this plugin in action, take a listen to this arp synth.
- Arp Synth UnprocessedAs you can hear, there is a peak in the 1.6 kHz range. We are going to use the plugin to help improve this sound.We want to tame this peak, bring up the overall volume without introducing artifacts, and give more clarity in the high end, so we will apply the MSpectralDynamics.Simply applying processor 1 we can achieve this rich and clear sound that we are after for our arp.Here is what the arp sounds like after we apply the MSpectralDynamics.
- Arp Synth ProcessedAs you can hear, the 1.6 kHz peak has been tamed, we have brought more volume to the entire sound, and the high end is crisp and clear.Other FeaturesThe plugin also has a built in gater and expander. One other feature that I have found to be useful is the on-board linear phase EQ that can apply a sharp cutoff without introducing phase problems. I usually EQ out everything above 12 kHz. If my project doesn't have a sub, like with some of the Classical I work with, then I will use it as a low cut as well.DownsideThe sound quality of this plugin is great, but the performance of the gui is quite poor. It seems to run better when the window is selected, but it runs best when closed out. Also, the beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the gui is pretty ugly. It has a retro Windows 3 look to it. You can change the color scheme, but some of the color schemes will obscure the text.Alternative
Oeksound's Soothe is a similar plugin to MSpectralDynamics, and it seems to be highly recommended as well. Here is a brief description of the plugin form their site.
Soothe is dynamic equalizer with self-adjusting frequency bands. Unlike traditional EQ-tools, soothe analyzes the signal on the fly and adjusts the frequency-wise reduction based on the input. This saves you from having to manually notch the problematic mid and high frequencies.
Ive personally never tried it, but definitely check that out if this kind of plugin interests you.
MSpectralDynamics has a tendency to produce compressor pumping if the settings are not optimized for your audio.
Compressor pumping is an unnatural change in volume as the sound moves above or below the threshold.
Also, some of the parameters might be confusing, even for an expert in digital signal processing.
Theres no replacement for reading the walls of help text that show up when you press the ? button by each window, but here are some things to try if you are experiencing problems with pumping:
- Lower smoothness and naturality.
- Set the general parameters mode to linear.
Set a release that is very high (>=1000 ms) or very low (<= 5 ms).
- Set the dynamic detection release mode to anything but "opto."
For a full overview of the plugin, you can check out theMSpectralDynamics Manual
If you are looking to increase or decrease the volume of precise frequencies in your audio, depending on how loud they are, all with clarity and no artifacts, then this is the plugin for you.
The drawbacks are the unintuitive looking GUI and the performance speed.
For more information on MSpectralDynamics & Melda Productions, click here: