Originally Posted by chrisjones
Some question about the vocals I hope you can answer.
When you're tracking vocals do you compress a lot on the way in and compress less when mixing or the other way around?
How do you set your 1176 when tracking and how much GR?
How did you mix the lead vocals?
EQ and Comp wise?
Delays, Reverbs, any Pitch-Shift spread and so on?
Do you use one track or multiple tracks for different processing?
Also do you automate the vocals pre, post or both?
I do compress a lot on the way in. On the TBS record I was actually using two compressors in series. My fav 1176LN into the UTA UnFairchild. The 1176 is doing the majority of the heavy compression and the UnFairchild is just smoothing things out a bit. The 1176 is set with a 4:1 ratio, slowish attack (1-2) and a fastish release (6-7). It is compressing a lot. When Adam/John is singing loud the GR meter is pinned all the way to the left of the scale. The 1176 is one of those devices that gets thicker sounding when it compresses a lot. It is almost impossible to set it wrong. The UnFairchild is set at the equivalent of the "2" position on a real fairchild. It is a bit faster than the 1176 so it catches some of the spiky moments and just smoothes a little. Typically only compressing 3 or 4 dB. I like compressing while recording because it affects how the singers will sing. They can be more dynamic and expressive when the compressor is always pulling the sound out of their throat. If a singer is struggling to hear themselves whenever they sing softer they tend to avoid doing it and the performance starts to sound mono dynamic.
In the mix I only do very subtle compression if any at all. It is typically just enough to glue the vocals together with whatever reverb or fx are put on them. Usually a ratio of 2:1 and only 2 or 3 dB of compression. I pretty much always automate post processing (especially compression). I don't want the amount of compression to be changing when I simply need the vocal to be a little louder or softer. For me that means automating with a moving fader on the console because I prefer using hardware compression for pretty much everything. I like to use an odd custom compressor that supposedly came from Decca studios in England on vocals while mixing. I was told it was designed to be a mastering compressor. It has no markings or model number on it but became known as the "You Don't Have This" compressor back in the 90s because of a pretty hilarious exchange I had with Tom Lord Algae. Tom Lord Algae started the process of mixing the first 3EB record. Stephan went out with the tapes and hung out while the mixing was being done for the first week. After about a week Stephan asked me to go out to Miami and listen to how things were going. I went out there to listen and give my 2 cents. While Tom was mixing I was mostly just hanging out and had time to check out some his outboard. I noticed that he had a pair of compressors on the lead vocals that were these same odd custom compressors that I was told were from Decca studios. i thought hey thats cool Tom has this same weird compressor and he also likes it on vocals. Just to make some polite conversation while he was rewinding I mentioned the coincidence. The exchange went something like this:
EV: "Hey that's cool I have some of these same weird Decca compressors and I like to use them on the vocals too!"
(tom glances over at the rack I'm pointing at)
Tom: "No you don't have that. That's a custom compressor that was racked up for me by this guy I know"
EV: "Yeah I think I have the exact same thing… All the controls are the same even this weird "Voice Over" control.. I got this same thing and its really great on vocals"
Tom: "No you don't… you don't have that"
EV: "Yeah… Yeah I do, it's just like it"
Tom: "No you don't"
EV: "Yes i do"
Tom: "No you don't"
The conversation pretty much ended there. It was super funny. Although only 3 of Tom's mixes were used on the record, it was really fun and interesting meeting him and seeing how he worked. Ever since then, that compressor has been known as the "You Don't Have This" compressor because apparently according to TLA I don't actually have them
For EQ in the mix it is usually a matter of high passing or pulling out some lows or low mids. Mostly to keep the vocals out of the way of the guitar. I really love the SRE555 tape delay/spring verb combo on vocals. It is on most all of the lead vocals on the TBS record. There is something about mono reverb that is really great. It just connects better with the original source sound. i do use a little pitch shift spread occasionally, although it is usually very subtle. there is some of that on the El Paso vocals. The only paralleling I do with vocals is for distortion. Typically I send the signal to an 1176 with the compression bypassed. I use that in conjuction with the
line trim on the console to boost a bunch of level and get the channel strip in the console to distort. I then blend it in very little.