Mixing: What Do Comping & Multing Mean In Audio?

| My New Microphone

Comping and multing are simple and effective tools for mixing audio, and if you're interested in learning more about their uses, you've come to the right article.

What is comping and multing in audio? Comping is combining multiple audio clips from multiple tracks onto a single track for common processing. These clips are along the timeline and do not overlap. Multing is splitting a single track into multiple tracks for different processing, where the audio may or may not overlap.

In this article, we'll break down comping and multing in more detail, along with the reasons why we'd want to use these techniques.

What Does Comping Mean In Audio?

The term “comping”, in the context of mixing, refers to creating a composite track.

A composite track is made by taking the best/select sections from various takes (recordings) of an instrument and assembling them into a single track.

In doing so, we have a single, dedicated track to a single “performance” (even though the performance will be pieced together over several takes). We can then go about processing that track as we see fit, ensuring common processing throughout.

By comping, we can reduce the number of tracks and the overall complexity of the mix session. Comping effectively allows us to piece together the best performance available throughout the song, making it that much better.

This process is particularly common on vocals, where different lines or sections are selected from the best performances, often over several takes. Comping could be done on a section-by-section, line-for-line or even on a word-for-word basis in peculiar instances. There are even situations where a single syllable could be edited into a comped vocal track.

Keeping with the example of the vocal, it may be necessary to utilize two comped tracks if the vocal lines overlap.

Comping is commonplace in dialogue and voiceover work, as well as with instrument solos that require multiple takes to get perfect.

Instructions For Comping Audio

  • Assemble the best sections of the select takes and edit around the good parts (cut the audio file).
  • Drag all the select sections to a new comp track.
  • Crossfade as necessary and ensure there are no artifacts or audible issues during the crossfades.

Additional Points For Comping

  • If there are multiple takes, it's worth taking our time to listen back and select the best takes available for our comp track.
  • If applicable, it can be worthwhile to “strip silence” by editing out empty spaces between phrases. Stripping silence, either manually or with software, is common with vocals.
  • Adjust clip gain during the editing stage to help maintain a consistent level. Remember that it's always best to fit mix issues before the mix. Mixing processors are there to help us balance the issues present in the recording/production, and getting a proper balance with clip gain now is worthwhile to save us time and energy in the mix.
| My New Microphone

What Does Multing Mean In Audio?

Multing can be thought of as the opposite of comping. The term “multing” comes from the process of duplicating a signal, either by splitting it via a patchbay or sending it to a Y adaptor. When mixing with modern DAWs, it's as simple as duplicating a track and only having one track playing audio at any given time.

Multing is useful for splitting different sections of a specific track into two different tracks for separate processing. It's especially practical when these different sections require completely different processing for the instrument or when the instrument plays much differently in different sections.

For example, we could mult a take of an acoustic guitar where there's big, open strumming in the chorus and gentler fingerpicking in the verses. We can then process the chorus and verse guitars separately to fit them into the mix perfectly.

We can mult a track for parallel processing if we forget about only having one track active at a time. By having multiple tracks playing back copies of the same audio, we can process each differently (in a sort of pseudo-parallel style) before mixing them together. Multing in this way allows pseudo “wet/dry” control over whatever processing we use on the duplicate.

We can also pan the two copies to different pan positions and process them differently to produce some stereo width.

In addition to mixing these tracks together, we can mult to quickly A/B test various processes on one track versus another. Rather than bypassing multiple inserts of a given track, we can duplicate it, process one with the multiple inserts, and then A/B between one track and the other in the context of the mix.

Instructions For Multing Audio

  • Create a new track. Label and colour-code it appropriately.
  • Identify the section(s) of an audio track that would likely benefit from different processing and cut the audio file around that section.
  • Drag the section(s) to the mult track.
  • Crossfade as necessary and ensure there are no artifacts or audible issues during the crossfades.
  • Repeat this process as necessary.

Additional Points For Multing

  • It can be worthwhile to relabel all the “mult” tracks by where they fit in the song structure. For example, “Acoustic Guitar Verse” and “Acoustic Guitar Chorus” could be the new names of the tracks, rather than having them both labelled “Acoustic Guitar” or “Acoustic Guitar 1” and “Acoustic Guitar 2”.
  • If we're opting to use multing as a method of parallel processing (even though most mixing engineers use buses instead), we can label the “mult” tracks by their intended process. For example, we could have “Electric Guitar Clean” and “Electric Guitar Saturated” for parallel saturation.

Related article: What Are Audio Buses? (Mixing, Recording, Live Sound)

New To Mixing? Check Out My FREE In-Depth Article:

What Are The Step-By-Steps Of Mixing Music?

Make the right decisions at the right times to craft professional mixes!

Leave A Comment!

Have any thoughts, questions or concerns? I invite you to add them to the comment section at the bottom of the page! I'd love to hear your insights and inquiries and will do my best to add to the conversation. Thanks!

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

MNM Ebook Updated mixing guidebook | My New Microphone

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.