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Tracking vocals: 1176 -> CL-1B or FET ii - > CL-1B?
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Kirkl
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#1
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Tracking vocals: 1176 -> CL-1B or FET ii - > CL-1B?

I apologize up front for what must seem like a pretty long-winded introduction to my question, but I feel the need to provide context:

A "classic" rock/pop vocal tracking chain often includes 1073 -> 1176 -> LA2A, yes?

Although my music includes rock, mostly it's "jazzy" and I tend to like a sound that isn't too coloured (but still has a little character). Currently, instead of the 1073, I use a Portico (or sometimes Pendulum) pre and, instead of the LA2A for an opto compressor, I use a CL-1B. Nothing sits in the 1176 spot for a FET compressor today.

I mix ITB and my tracking equipment is, and must remain, minimal. High quality, but minimal quantity. (My needs are pretty focused.)

In the box, I can use the Waves CLA-76 and Softube CL-1B plugins to prototype how the 1176 -> CL-1B would work on vocals. I really like using the CLA-76 to just shave off the peaks, letting the Softube CL-1B handle the bulk of the work. So I'm thinking of adding an 1176 (the UA re-issue) to my tracking chain.

But I wonder... in the same way that I've substituted less coloured, more modern things for the other bits, should I be considering alternatives to the 1176 for a FET compressor?

I have an opportunity to buy a used Daking FET II.

I've read all of the threads on Gearslutz about the Daking and done a Google search for reviews (couldn't find any about the II, just the III). It seems to be highly respected here on Gearslutz, but not super well-known. All of the things that people say about the Daking, contrasting it with the 1176, attract me.

However, I'm worried that the Daking's slow release time (>= .5s) would not allow it to do a good job in what would be its main role as a 1st compressor in my vocal tracking chain (just skimming the peaks off). Here's my question(s) (Finally!):

Does anyone use the Daking in this way? Does it work well? How does it compare to an 1176 for doing this job? Is there something else I should consider? (The Distressor EL8x is, of course, a possibility. I'm pretty sure the British Mode would do the job. I'm just not sure that it's my kind of toy. Maybe.)

Thanks in advance for your help.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkl View Post
A "classic" rock/pop vocal tracking chain often includes 1073 -> 1176 -> LA2A, yes?
I prefer the LA2a before the 1176. I likewise prefer the CL1b before the 1176.

So my preferred rock vocal chain is
LDC>1073>LA2a>1176 for male
LDC>1073>CL1b>1176 for female

I like to smooth first and then have some stronger compressing/limiting after that.
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Kirkl
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Interesting...

So, Ward, you like the LA2A on male vocals because it's a little darker sounding?
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkl View Post
Interesting...

So, Ward, you like the LA2A on male vocals because it's a little darker sounding?
Depends on the unit, but usually yes. However, I like the thickness it imparts on a male vocal more so. The thickness from the CL1b is there too but it's like 1/2 octave higher which is perfect for femvox. In either case, I could get by with just one of them if I had to and would use this method because both comps yield a nice buttery smoothness that IMHO should come in the signal chain before the 1176.
Kirkl
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Thanks Ward.
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25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
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If you like a sound that is not too colored, then the 1176 (and many FET compressors) might not be the best choice when tracking vocals but it's just a matter of taste. I've seen the 1176 do great things on a hard rock vocal, but I have also seen it overcompress (again, a matter of taste) pop and jazz vocals when tracking through it. It's hard to beat a good hardware optical compressor like the LA-2A, LA-3A, CL1B, Manley ELOP, or the Anthony Demaria CL 1000/1500 when tracking vocals. They are so smooth and free of pumping sounds and other artifacts. If you need more compression when mixing, you can always patch in the 1176 for something extra. I do not regularly chain 2 compressors together on a vocal when tracking. That's just too much compression up front, but again your milage may vary. Remember, if you print the compressed track, and you overcompress it, there is no going back and fixing that. However, if you don't use enough compression when tracking, you can always add more later when mixing.

I have not used the Daking you are asking about. The vintage dbx 160VU is another excellent FET compressor.
Kirkl
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25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
It's hard to beat a good hardware optical compressor like the LA-2A, LA-3A, CL1B, Manley ELOP, or the Anthony Demaria CL 1000/1500 when tracking vocals.
Yes. My CL-1B is often all I feel that I need. But I have found that, working in the box with an uncompressed vocal track, the combination of CL-1B and 1176 emulation plugins does something that I like. I don't know if the Waves CLA-76 fully reproduces what the 1176 does or not, though. I am a little worried about the sonic weight of the real thing.

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Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Remember, if you print the compressed track, and you overcompress it, there is no going back and fixing that. However, if you don't use enough compression when tracking, you can always add more later when mixing.
Sure. That's the way I've always worked too, but I'm trying something new: 1) I can always chicken out and record an uncompressed track in parallel. 2) I'm kind of trying out a new approach (for me) where the personality of the instrument/voice for that song is pretty much determined at tracking, not in the mix. Yes, some additional compression and EQ might be required during mixing, but only to make the track fit in, not to change its basic personality. I would like to get to the point where I use a lot fewer plugins during mixing and where most ITB processing is applied to buses, not individual tracks. It's kind of a Zen thing. 3) I find that hearing the compression during tracking changes the performance. For me, the processing chain is part of the vocal instrument. 4) Adding more compression later may or may not give the effect I intended for the personality of the voice/instrument for that song. The order of compression can make for a different result.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
The vintage dbx 160VU is another excellent FET compressor.
Cool. I had not thought of that one. I've only used plugins that sort of emulate it (the Stillwell Major Tom does that, I think) and then mostly on snare and toms. I'll try it ITB on an uncompressed vocal recording. Thanks.

Over the past couple of days I've decided that I need to get a hardware 1176 and see for myself what all the love is about. The pressure to conform to Gearslutz norms is just too high for me to resist.
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25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
The vintage dbx 160VU is another excellent FET compressor.
It's VCA.
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Kirkl
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14th February 2013
Old 14th February 2013
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My end solution...

So... Just to close the loop here.

I did end up buying an 1176. (Actually, a clone - the Mohog.)

1) It doesn't seem the same to me as the Waves CLA version. I prefer the hardware. The compression shapes seem pretty close, but the overall sound is different.
2) I find I'm using the 1176 as much for altering the static sound as for shaping the dynamics. It actually seems to clean things up, making up for the tiny bit of muddiness that my CL-1B adds. (Not a dig on the Tubetech - I LOVE the CL-1B.)

I was worried that the 1176 would add too much "character" for me. It does add character, but in a way that makes things clearer, not just "warmer" or more distorted.

I guess I understand, now, what all the fuss is about. Maybe I'll listen more to popular opinion in the future.
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