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compressor vs limiter on Vocals
Old 16th September 2012
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
compressor vs limiter on Vocals

When would it be better to us a compressor (1176) on a voice and when would it be better to use a limiter (la-2a)?
Old 16th September 2012
  #2
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
A limiter is a compressor with certain settings.

Sent from my PG86100
Old 16th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Answers to this question will diverge greatly. So the best answer is this.

It depends ..

On your ability to objectively assess the following : the mic technique of the singer, the acoustic quality of the reording environment, the sonic qualities of the mic being used, the strength of the signal chain, and the desired outcome, in terms of a sonic aesthetic .. There are other factors as well ..

I've often started with both an 1176 and an LA2A Inline. The 1176 on fast attack/release limiting, and the LA2A on a gentle compression. It works best with inexperienced singers.

More seasoned singers vary. Some like GoTo chains, others are extremely sensitive and wary of ANY signal processing in the recording chain.
Old 16th September 2012
  #4
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_Mark's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
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The 1176 does limiting.
Old 16th September 2012
  #5
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And the LA-2A is the compressor ...

Usually both is best. If I had to choose one, it's would be the compressor. Because it's more versatile, and less likely to distort. It's not as fast as the limiter, and it won't catch the transient peaks. BUT - I strongly believe that using a limiter while tracking to catch transient peaks is misguided. (Unless you set them so fast that distortion is inevitable). To stop clipping your converters, simply adjust the gain and output level so it won't clip on the strongest input signal.

I'm guessing that once in the box you will probably use soft limiters and maybe more compression anyway ... so the only reason to use hardware compression is:

A/ because you like the sound of the hardware,
B/ to increase the average levels and maximise the signal to noise

But - if you use a compressor, it's important to realise that fast transients don't get compressed, on account of the Attack time which lets them through before the compressor circuit clamps down on the rest of the waveform. The make up gain that inevitably gets applied after compression then boosts these uncompressed transients, so the end result is that it's more prone to clipping than it was before, and these transients are going to require limiting at some stage.

Software compression and limiting can have the advantage of Look Ahead - so limiting is best done in the box (unless you are looking for sonic character).

There is a strong case to be argued in favor of not using any dynamic control at all when tracking. That way, you can do most of your dynamic control with automation, and then use high end plugins to tame the rest. If you have really dynamic singers, you can track two channels, one set for the loud parts and the other set for the soft parts.

So ultimately - chose the hardware for the sonic character alone.
Old 16th September 2012
  #6
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WunderBro Flo's Avatar
 
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imho it depends on your aim: use a limiter if you want to keep all options open but you still want to catch the occasional peaks so you are sure you won´t overload the AD converter. You will capture a dynamic performance with only the loudest peaks controlled. Use a compressor when you want to level out the performance so you pull up the fader and you get a pretty constant level from the get go. I prefer levelling but there are not many compressors that I would use for tracking with a safe feeling. I normally use (and love) the LA3A for perfectly levelling out any vocal performance. If I do not want to commit while recording I use only the peak limiter of a dbx160sl to make sure I never overload the AD. The 1176 is something inbetween, I like it with a fast release and the attack is fast anyways, but it is a feedback design makes it more compressor-like...the 1176 is perfectly fine for tracking any vocals, I just found out that for me, the slow-fat levelling of the LA3A is more desirable than the fast-exciting limiting/compression of a 1176.
Old 22nd March 2013 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Mark ➡️
The 1176 does limiting.
la2a does compression
Old 22nd March 2013
  #8
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CJ Mastering's Avatar
The only difference between compression and limiting is the ratio setting. A ratio of 10:1 and higher is limiting and a ratio of less than 10:1 is compression.

What to use is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer to your question.
what you use depends on the sound you want for the vocal and how dynamic you want the vocal to be in the mix.

There is just too may variable to take into account and allot of it is personnel taste. So, use your ears to see what you need to use for this vocal, as no 2 vocals will need the same settings as the tracks around your vocals change the sound of how you perceive the vocals in that mix

CJ
Old 22nd March 2013
  #9
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Not all compressors can be limiters. You need a peak detector style compressor.
Old 23rd March 2013
  #10
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e-are's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Sometimes I use a limiter before the compressor so that the compressor doesnt work so hard. I think it sometimes it sounds smoother. Sometimes the compressor before the limiter using the limiter to somewhat sit the source in the mix.
Old 23rd March 2013 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by e-are ➡️
Sometimes I use a limiter before the compressor so that the compressor doesnt work so hard. I think it sometimes it sounds smoother. Sometimes the compressor before the limiter using the limiter to somewhat sit the source in the mix.
Old 24th March 2013
  #12
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfields ➡️
When would it be better to us a compressor (1176) on a voice and when would it be better to use a limiter (la-2a)?
Stuck with those two choices, LA-2A for vocal, but first try none before resorting to all that kinda stuff.
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.
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Old 24th March 2013
  #13
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Aretha-compressor
Mariah-limiter
heh

Chris
Old 24th March 2013
  #14
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UREI 7110, LA-10, LA-12, and LA-22 compressors combine the RMS compression of the LA-2A/LA-4 with the peak compression of the 1176 using the DETECTOR control, and includes a fast peak limiter as the last block of the chain.

The limiter threshold is accessible through a recessed hole on the front panel, and that thing can be handy on drums. It has made a steady snare out of a very dynamically inconsistent player, and can really bring out the rudiments of a cadence.
Old 24th March 2013
  #15
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Bender412's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering ➡️
The only difference between compression and limiting is the ratio setting...
And attack time?
Old 24th March 2013 | Show parent
  #16
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Laurend's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering ➡️
The only difference between compression and limiting is the ratio setting.
The detector section is different. Limiters use peaks to drive the gain envelop. Compressors use pseudo-RMS value to control the gain. Not a detail...
Old 26th June 2019 | Show parent
  #17
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Sybille's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurend ➡️
The detector section is different. Limiters use peaks to drive the gain envelop. Compressors use pseudo-RMS value to control the gain. Not a detail...

Is that true ?
Old 27th June 2019 | Show parent
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybille ➡️
Is that true ?
Yes. But the detectors' behaviors on a vocal won't be all that different. On something like a cymbal or a tambourine they'd probably be very different.
Old 27th June 2019 | Show parent
  #19
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Sybille's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Yes. But the detectors' behaviors on a vocal won't be all that different. On something like a cymbal or a tambourine they'd probably be very different.

I read :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurend ➡️
The detector section is different. Limiters use peaks to drive the gain envelop. Compressors use pseudo-RMS value to control the gain. Not a detail...
and :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville ➡️
Compression is a shaping tool - not just a gain reduction tool. If you limit something, you can actually re-create dynamics using more compression.


Does it mean that in some way a limiter is more transparent than a compressor since it only takes care of the peaks while the compressor changes the overall shape of dynamics ?


So let's say I was to use both in a recording chain for tracking, which one should I put first?
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