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ARE THE PROS COMPRESSING WHILE RECORDING VOCALS?
Old 25th November 2007
  #1
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k.g.'s Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
ARE THE PROS COMPRESSING WHILE RECORDING VOCALS?

Ok so i've heard many theories... and it's hard to say who's right and wrong... but since I've never had the opportunity to work w/ a Pro.... i really wouldn't know what they do to their vocal sessions.
so with that said
Does anyone know if they are compressing during the recording of the vocals?

If so... can i use a VST plugin- say like the WAVES R-COMP ???
Or in your opinion is it better to record vocals without anything... and then tweak them to make them sound like what your looking for....
so far that's what i've been doing, however i am curious as to what others really do... if anyone knows let me know.

thanks
Old 25th November 2007
  #2
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azwun25's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
most use at least a small degree of compression on the way in....
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #3
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The engineer uses a touch of tubetech compression w/ a u87 at the studio.
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #4
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ryst's Avatar
 
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Yes. Every single "pro" does the same thing.


Seriously, if you want to compress vocals while recording, my advise is to get a good hardware compressor. I would suggest not recording thru a plug in. In my opinion, there is no need for it since you can add it's effect at anytime after it's been recorded. Nothing beats a good hardware comp for recording.

As far as if it's the "right thing to do or not", it all depends on the engineer and the vocalist. Some vocalists have very good mic technique and don't need to be compressed during recording. Others are all over the place and definitely need it.

Some "pros" like to use compression regardless of who they are recording and some don't like to use it at all regardless of who they are recording.

Doing what a "pro" does will not get you 'pro" results. Otherwise every "pro" would practice the same methods for everything they do. Keep experimenting and find whats best for you.
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Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #5
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what's the benefit of using a compressor while input recording vocals when you can add it to the vocal track with software or even hardware after the fact?
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #6
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tuRnitUpsuM's Avatar
 
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k.g


Quote:
and it's hard to say who's right and wrong
I'm no authority, I'm no Grammy winning artist/engineer..Hell im nobody(verifiably)..but im confident others would agree......when i say.


There is NO right and wrong way when it comes to music. If it sounds good.....really good....the PROS would ask YOU how YOU got that sound and maybe experiment themselves alil bit.

Shaving alil bit on the way in isnt a wrong way of recording vocals...nor is it a right way....its what sounds best. Can split the signal....into two, compressing one. Can record clean and compress later or just say F it and record with compression. It all depends on how u work (your workflow) and what sounds best to you.... i find the more you play around with sounds....the more you'll understand better about what it is that you do to a signal that makes people take notice.


cheers
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Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #7
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Rufuss Sewell's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you're paying by the hour then it's cheaper to record through a compressor. I'm very small time, but I earn my living recording bands so I guess I'm a "pro" haha. But I personally use EQ and compression on just about everything I record on the way in. I have very nice EQs and compressors and I want them on everything. Tracking dry and then running each channel through them later seems like a big waste of time if I know what I'm going for. Still. I'll often use plug in compressors and eqs during the mix, but most of the sound is recorded on the way in. That's just what I choose to do though and it may not work for you.
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Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyscarbones ➑️
what's the benefit of using a compressor while input recording vocals when you can add it to the vocal track with software or even hardware after the fact?
control signal to push gain stages on preamps for tone.
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Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #9
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PettyCash's Avatar
 
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Other professionals I know are using either emperical labs distressors, avalon 737 (compressor section only), or custom made stuff for compression during recording. You are not looking to put a whole lot of gain reduction on, you are just looking to tame the highest peaks so you can drive your preamp a lil harder.
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Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #10
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If your lucky enough to work with a vocalist and know their style and the material intimately, then riding the fader cannot be beat for some of the best clarity and dynamics. Some of the best vox I've ever cut were done this way...
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #11
JDN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyscarbones ➑️
what's the benefit of using a compressor while input recording vocals when you can add it to the vocal track with software or even hardware after the fact?
I record major label vocalists all the time, and I always compress on the way in(hardware, never software). You do want to go lightly, since obviously you can't take it off, like about 6 DB of compression. 2/1 or 3/1 ratio usually.

To answer your question, the reason for this is there is something magical about running different compressors in series, which is essentially what you're doing(compressing it a little on the way in with a distressor or 1176 or whatever, and then compressing it more when you mix with a plug or another outboard unit). It also just helps smooths things out and controll dynamics on the way in.

FYI, most pros I know do this, however, I do believe it is also completely valid to do nothing...it's just a matter of taste. I'm just letting the person I quoted know that it's safe to say that the vast majority of professional engineers compress at least a little on the way in.
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alnico ➑️
If your lucky enough to work with a vocalist and know their style and the material intimately, then riding the fader cannot be beat for some of the best clarity and dynamics. Some of the best vox I've ever cut were done this way...
1+, if you intimately know how the song is going to be sung, and can predict how he or she is going to be expressing themselves dynamicaly.
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #13
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alexkemp's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
it takes two to make a thing go right...?

I agree with JDN about compressing in two different ways, one while tracking and one while mixing. When tracking a vocal I usually would use a hardware comp (shadow hills master comp, avalon 2044) and use faster attack and release times, with a slightly higher ratio (like 4:1) but only hitting 2-3 db's of gain reduction when the singer is t their maximum level (usually somewhere in the last chorus, right?)

Then when mixing I'll tend to use either the UAD-1 fairchild or LA-2 emulations, which are slow attack/slow release...

So round 1 of compression should protect from digital overs, and result in a healthy signal coming from the convertor to my DAW. Round two should result in a higher and more consistent average level in the mix.

That said, I just did a vocal through through the opto side of the shadow hills on the way in (very slow release) and use the 33609 emulation from the UAD-1 while mixing (doing the exact opposite of what I described above) and it was pretty tight. Lots of color from the compression going in...
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #14
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illynoise's Avatar
 
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I remember recording in huge studios and they always compressed. And these guys sold millions and million of recordings.

I always put a little compression, unless the vocalist is not a "blaster".
Old 25th November 2007 | Show parent
  #15
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Compression

Compression on the way in used to be much more important to get as much signal to tape as possible when the headroom was much lower than it is today and the engineer had to worry about tape noise. Today, that is not so much of a concern and I would have to say that you can go with or without it. What I will say is this. The sound of a high quality mic through a high quality preamp through a high quality compressor into a high quality AD cannot be beat as it can strongly influence one's performance and anytime you can do things to inspire somebody's performance, it is always a good idea. In a perfect world, you would split the signal and record the uncompressed signal as well as the compressed one while monitoring one of them just to have a backup in case you hit the compression too hard but as long as you make sure that the gain reduction is about 3-10 db, then it should be OK.
Old 25th November 2007
  #16
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psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k.g. ➑️
If so... can i use a VST plugin- say like the WAVES R-COMP ???
Or in your opinion is it better to record vocals without anything... and then tweak them to make them sound like what your looking for....
so far that's what i've been doing, however i am curious as to what others really do... if anyone knows let me know.

thanks
Well, if you're going to use a software comp, you might as well do it after the event - you're not going to get any of the benefits of hardware compression (since you're after the AD), it'll sound exactly the same as compressing afterwards, and you're likely to run into problems with latency/bussing if trying to route through a software channel on the way in (putting the plugin on the audio channel being recorded will act on the recorded audio, not on the way in.

Most engineers I've worked for will be conservative with compression on vocals on the way in, and then add more when mixing. If there's any sort of general rule, that's probably it. But - everyone tends to do things slightly differently.
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Old 26th November 2007 | Show parent
  #17
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Big 3rd's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
For me, personally, I try not to control my vocal while recording. I don't worry about that at that point. I try to get the best, least compressed vocal I can. Once I do that, I know that all those precious peaks are there and my highs (the details) are still there. I use mixing for controlling the vocals.

There's nothing worse than wasting a great take on an overcompressed recording. Once those peaks are gone, there's no amount mixing that can make it sound like it wasn't overcompressed.

So...

sometimes I try to study the performance and know where the compressor might have to work and try to ride the gain. Basically, I use the compressor to catch the ultra quick stray peaks...no more than -2 or -3 db reduction...average around -1.
Old 26th November 2007
  #18
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by k.g. ➑️
Does anyone know if they are compressing during the recording of the vocals?

they sure are
Old 26th November 2007 | Show parent
  #19
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Of course they are....
Old 26th November 2007 | Show parent
  #20
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tuRnitUpsuM's Avatar
 
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You know....sometimes if u look at the vocal chain...you just might notice a compressor in there....and you think they're compressing on the way in.... but they just might be using that sweet Ol' transformer for saturation and not shaving any dbs off at all. heh (ahh the trickery of audio).


cheers
Old 26th November 2007 | Show parent
  #21
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuRnitUpsuM ➑️
You know....sometimes if u look at the vocal chain...you just might notice a compressor in there....and you think they're compressing on the way in.... but they just might be using that sweet Ol' transformer for saturation and not shaving any dbs off at all. heh (ahh the trickery of audio).


cheers
Haha..maybe. But the gain reduction meters moving is usually a pretty good indication that the compressor's in action.

Plus, saturating the transformer is technicially a form of compression...heh
Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
I compress and limit on the way in, There's no denying that I messed up a couple of times in my early days - but that taught me VERY quickly what NOT to do.
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Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #23
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No4PCs's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➑️
The engineer uses a touch of tubetech compression w/ a u87 at the studio.

...and in some cases the Fairchild/ U47 !


Very well friend, simply, objective and easy...hahahaha
Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #24
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There IS a right way to do things in audio. It's not just a single right way, but there is a right way.

The right way is to track it right the first time. If a track needs EQ, compression, or to be sung right and in tune... then that should happen the first time. You shouldn't have to 'fix' it afterwards.

Track it right first, then it's easy to mix. That is the right way. "Fixing it in the mix" is the wrong way. Plain and simple.
Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 15 years
When I do session with several MC's on one song, I us a little haredware compression to even out all the verses. I never do more than 3 dB of reduction, manly using my Avalon Vt 737 or my URIE LA-12. Never more than 3 dB of reduction, at a ratio of 3:1 tops!. I also use a little EQ if I know the MC's voice well from mixing him before. Rhymefest is a big fan of a 6 kHz boost to add interlagence, but I have mixed him alot. My with Coldhard from Crucial Conflict I might add a little 200 Hz, but whatever the freq, never more than 2 dB! Also since I mix in the box, I like to grab some out board character will I have the oppertunity.
Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon ➑️
There IS a right way to do things in audio. It's not just a single right way, but there is a right way.

The right way is to track it right the first time. If a track needs EQ, compression, or to be sung right and in tune... then that should happen the first time. You shouldn't have to 'fix' it afterwards.

Track it right first, then it's easy to mix. That is the right way. "Fixing it in the mix" is the wrong way. Plain and simple.
EQing and compressing is not a form of "fixing" but more so just a technique of engineering...I doubt there is anyone who records it in perfect and doesnt have to do anything to the audio once its in the DAW...U show me one engineer who can do that and Ill be extremely impressed...I like to use a mulitband compressor on my vocals which I got a great preset from a top engineer that I know and he uses the plugin...so u cant say that "fixing" it in the mix is a wrong way cuz everyone "fixes" the mix after it is recorded..."Fixing: the mix = Engineering...i kno it sounded redundant and like it was changin my mind but i hope u feel me...let it marinate for a few minutes...
Old 27th November 2007 | Show parent
  #27
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HoPMiX's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
personally.. i cant live without a distressor..
i like 1176 as well..
but i feel like something is wrong if i don't have a distressor to track vox through.
I start asking the assistant is there is something wrong and get all paranoid and think the compressor he's patched me through is broken,, ARGH then i just bypass it and say screw it.
Old 30th November 2007 | Show parent
  #28
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tuRnitUpsuM's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
bgrotto


Quote:
Haha..maybe. But the gain reduction meters moving is usually a pretty good indication that the compressor's in action.
ahh... but what if the compressor is of vintage origin and the meters are a tough find.? therefore left unworking...lol heh

Quote:
Plus, saturating the transformer is technicially a form of compression
touche....
Old 30th November 2007 | Show parent
  #29
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Tibbon's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by B-Muzik ➑️
EQing and compressing is not a form of "fixing" but more so just a technique of engineering...I doubt there is anyone who records it in perfect and doesnt have to do anything to the audio once its in the DAW...U show me one engineer who can do that and Ill be extremely impressed...I like to use a mulitband compressor on my vocals which I got a great preset from a top engineer that I know and he uses the plugin...so u cant say that "fixing" it in the mix is a wrong way cuz everyone "fixes" the mix after it is recorded..."Fixing: the mix = Engineering...i kno it sounded redundant and like it was changin my mind but i hope u feel me...let it marinate for a few minutes...
Again, I disagree. If you have done your preproduction, know the artist, know the song and music well, and have a clear vision of the recording then you can do a lot on the way in.

I bet if you listen to a lot of unmixed stuff from "great" engineers you'll find that the stuff was tracked right the first time. You shouldn't have to totally re-EQ your drums when you mix. Maybe a few tweaks, but the brunt of what you do should have been done on the way in.

I can't imagine using multiband compression on vocals, or what multiband compressor I'd want to use. I just don't see the point. And getting a "preset" from a "top engineer" seems just stupid. That just seems to be begging for you to use your eyes and not your ears.

Look at most of The Beatles stuff. It had to be tracked right the first time. Yea, there's edits all over the songs, but it's nothing compared to the comping that people are trying today. Read "Here, There, and Everywhere". They had to do it right the FIRST time. Of course there was compression and EQ afterwards, but to get most of the sounds... they had to do it right the first time.

Down to the point, if you don't know how much compression you want on something... then you probably haven't listened or thought about it enough. And if you think slapping a preset on it is the answer, then forget it.

I have a good friend that I started a studio with years ago. He used to track everything "clean" in as many of you are saying to. Then he'd use every plugin in the world and little bit of outboard to mix. His mixes worked, and sold albums... but honestly they were kinda **** compared to what he's doing today. Now he has a strong selection of top shelf preamps, EQ and compression plus a much more solid mic locker so he can try a good number.

I went over and checked out some of his recent sessions. Pulling open the PT files, I saw that on huge complex productions there might have been 4-5 plugins on the entire session. I was like, "Whaaa? You used to be the person that would max out an HD|3 for plugins! Did you retrack everything through the outboard?" He told me, "No they aren't retracked through the outboard. Well I started doing the stuff right the first time, now it's basically just setting levels and adding a bit of reverb and delay, and perhaps some bus compression. Very few plugins needed, and I have enough outboard that I don't even need those". These are rock/pop and new age productions that he's working on. One of the albums that he worked on happens to have a Grammy. It took nearly four years for him to come around to this, but now he's a better engineer and doing it right. I'd been telling him this from the beginning and initially he thought it would limit his options, but not he realizes it doesn't.
Old 30th November 2007 | Show parent
  #30
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuRnitUpsuM ➑️
bgrotto




ahh... but what if the compressor is of vintage origin and the meters are a tough find.? therefore left unworking...lol heh



touche....
Hah hah...your kung fu is strong, sporty one.
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