Vocal Compression: Gear Vs Plugins?
Old 15th July 2007
  #1
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Vocal Compression: Gear Vs Plugins?

Im Starting to set up my own home studio, im doing strictly rap vocals, and i bought a new DBX 166XL for 250 but looking around the forums it seems that wasnt the best choice for studio use. At the time i was thinking, well i think its about time i just jump into this and put my money down and fine out what works and what doesnt. Honestly ive never used a compressor but i heard it can do some good things. What i do use often is the dynamic proccesing in adobe audition so Now im wondering if maybe i should try and sell it off and get some plugins instead? (which ive also never used).

Im looking for which would be more usefull. Any Suggestions?
Old 15th July 2007
  #2
Compression is still an area in signal processing where hardware is invariably better than software. Not to say it's not getting better, and with every year that passes by the algorithms are improving. But you will do better with hardware, I think that's pretty much a guarantee.

In any case, what's your platform? Mac/Windows? Pro Tools/other? That will influence the advice - if I tell you to go out and get the Massey CT4, which is probably the best under-$100 software compressor on the market, IMO, that advice will do you no good if you're running Cubase.
Old 15th July 2007
  #3
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well, HW is better in most cases... but i´d rather use a waves comp say than an alesis 3630...

that said... i normally do not compress while tracking, since you can do a lot of harm if you compress a vocal too much.

sometimes i might use a little compression when tracking and then use a plugin comp to help it sit on the mix... i get the best results with slight compression settings though..

my .02 cents...
Old 15th July 2007
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by taturana View Post
well, HW is better in most cases... but i´d rather use a waves comp say than an alesis 3630...
Burned on a technicality! You win this round, taturana...

Seriously though, I suppose I should have excluded any comps made by alesis, dbx < $400 (only for vocals, as you've discoverd, but your 166xl could be very cool on a bass guitar, for example), behringer, and stuff like that...

taturana's point about not compressing on the way in is a good one - doing it later is better, BUT, if you go the outboard route you need to factor in an extra round of DA-AD which, if your converters are essentially consumer/prosumer grade, you might degrade to the point where a very good software comp is actually a really good idea.

So basically I'm retracting everything I said at first.
Old 15th July 2007
  #5
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return/sell the 166XL, get a RNC or 166 if you need stereo, or 160X/XT for mono.
Old 15th July 2007
  #6
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rockrev's Avatar
 

Get the Waves Musicians Bundle II. If the RVox or RenComp can't do the trick, I don't know what plug-in could do it better. Those simply kill on vocals.

dj
Old 15th July 2007
  #7
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If you don't have a great vocal-chain in general, I don't see the reason to get a really great compressor if the rest of your chain isn't up to par. A RNC or a Distressor will get you very far! If that's out of your economy I would suggest getting a UAD-1 card.

LA2, LA3, Fairchild 670 and of course 1176LN are super for ITB vocal compression. If you want in your face results though, there's nothing like the UAD Neve 33609 for vocals.... hardware or software! (besides a hardware 33609 maybe )

I got ADLs, Distressors, 1176s, Manleys, Smart C2 at my place and the only thing that sounds close to that aggro sound of the UAD 33609 is the C2, but for that particular thick sounding in-your-face compression for vocals... the UAD 33609 smokes even that one. Never done rap, but I can imagine that thing being just perfect for that.
Old 15th July 2007
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3
In any case, what's your platform? Mac/Windows? Pro Tools/other?
Windows / Adobe Audition 1.5 (but as soon as i upgrade my equipment i planned to get 2.0)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarturana
that said... i normally do not compress while tracking, since you can do a lot of harm if you compress a vocal too much.
sometimes i might use a little compression when tracking and then use a plugin comp to help it sit on the mix... i get the best results with slight compression settings though..

thats exactly the advice ive been getting, which is why i wanted to get a compressor to try it out, but i would also need to get some decent plugins aswell..

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblotted
return/sell the 166XL, get a RNC or 166 if you need stereo, or 160X/XT for mono.
i dont know what my needs are?? :/

Quote:
Originally Posted by plec
If you don't have a great vocal-chain in general, I don't see the reason to get a really great compressor if the rest of your chain isn't up to par.
hmm i see, well my setup will come to be a emu 1616 pci card (<link) using its pre's, and then mic will most likley be a at4040 mic, unless i make any last minute changes.. maybe i should have bought these before the compressor lol

oh and rocrev can u show me where i can take a look at the plugins your speaking of?
Old 15th July 2007
  #9
Lives for gear
 
taturana's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockrev View Post
Get the Waves Musicians Bundle II. If the RVox or RenComp can't do the trick, I don't know what plug-in could do it better. Those simply kill on vocals.

dj
i would suggest (as far as plugins) the waves rcomp, rchannel or th urs1970 comp... in most situations rchannel is a very good solution for vocals...

as far as HW is concerned all the suggestions above are cool.. and i would add the tubetech cl1a, but that´s is an expensive solution...
Old 15th July 2007
  #10
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i jus did some looking around at the uad1 cards and stuff and they look really great.. its a bit out of my budget right now but im sure i could make some room soon. so i guess that could be my future solution as far as plugins go.
Old 16th July 2007
  #11
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would it be smart to maybe grab a dbx 160a for some compression on the way in, then grab some plugins for in the mix compression, hopefully then i can later upgrade the plugins.
Old 16th July 2007
  #12
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Jake 2.0's Avatar
 

I prefer outboard for compressors, the plug ins will work but don't have a sound to them they do thier job compressing but thier isnt any extra coloration that i love from outboard gear.
Old 16th July 2007
  #13
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Some plug in compressors are quite good. That being said, compression is one of those things that if done right while tracking, can benefit you by controlling the dynamic range on the way in and protecting AD converters as well. There is a usefulness on a different level.

I only use clean compression for control of vocals and bass guitar on the way in, ever. Those two sources could usually use a bit of taming!

War
Old 16th July 2007
  #14
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I've used the RComp for a while and love it. I'd highly recommend it for vocals and even bass/acoustic guitar and drums. The Musicians II Bundle would be a good deal. I'll also say I agree with the posts on the UAD. I just purchased one and can't wait to see what it does to my mixes.
Old 17th July 2007
  #15
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hm thanks for the great advice, i think for software ill be getting the Waves Musicians II Plug In Bundle as it seems to be a good inexpensive solution.Maybe one day when i become more knowlegable about all of this and more experienced (as well as increase my budget) i can upgrade to the UAD plugins
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