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Vari Mu - Vocal Help
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Vari Mu - Vocal Help

I have been enjoying a vari mu compressor and have a question regarding a specific vocal issue I have encountered.

There is a peak at around 2.08 in the linked, downloadable vocal track that my comp misses with the result being an increased peak due to the overall volume increase. I don't believe the vocal issue, which is a loud "I" after a pause, is that uncommon.

I only have one model vari mu, am wondering if my next comp should be a faster vari mu comp or another type (not keen on VCA) that does not sacrifice sound for speed. I don't really want to have to chain a second comp (1176) before or after my comp to address the peak and I would prefer to use hardware vs software.

If anyone downloads and runs the file; how do your vari mu, optical, etc. comps handle the peak?

What comps are worth a try?

https://soundcloud.com/junior-music-...render/s-igiYZ
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Yup, they'll do that. Does the one you have now have a side chain input?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Head
 

If it is just the one peak that the compressor misses and I like the sound of it everywhere else, I would just turn down that syllable before reaching for another compressor
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Addict
 

There is no side chain input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Yup, they'll do that. Does the one you have now have a side chain input?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 

That is exactly what I have done for the mix but, the engineer in me says, unless the peak is a rare anomaly (I don't believe it is), there is likely a tool better suited to this task.

VT-7, Pure Mu, Unfairchild, maybe BG2 or BG1 or, going in another direction TG1, Zener others...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superb View Post
If it is just the one peak that the compressor misses and I like the sound of it everywhere else, I would just turn down that syllable before reaching for another compressor

Last edited by StevenLMorgan; 4 weeks ago at 08:46 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Just use clip gain and/or volume automation. A vari-mu is not a peak limiter and should never be expected to behave as such.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Addict
 

I don't disagree however, before giving in, accepting the issue and manual workarounds, it is worth a GS thread to explore options.

So far, the issue is acknowledged. I am hoping to hear from those who have found a compressor that might address the issue.

Through a GS search, VT-7, Pure-Mu and Fairchild/Unfairchild are mentioned as extremely fast tube compressors and there are owners who post. It would be great if someone would offer to run the file.

Again, I am not limiting the search to vari-mu, I would prefer tube although I am not discounting anything except VCA at this time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Just use clip gain and/or volume automation. A vari-mu is not a peak limiter and should never be expected to behave as such.

Last edited by StevenLMorgan; 4 weeks ago at 11:13 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

I personally like the two comp approach with a FET comp first to tame peaks and then a varimu or optical after to smooth it out. I agree that even with the best of setups, the occasional transient gets through and I need to adjust in clip gain.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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loji's Avatar
Knif pureMu can be very fast ...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
There is no side chain input.
The reason I ask is, I've used a couple different La2a's that had been modded to accept a side chain input. The idea being that you copy the track in question, slide the copy earlier by, say, 150 ms, and use that to feed the side chain. It makes the attack time much faster. You can, in fact, move the copy track early enough that the compressor will react before a peak hits it -- not even an 1176 can do that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
The reason I ask is, I've used a couple different La2a's that had been modded to accept a side chain input. The idea being that you copy the track in question, slide the copy earlier by, say, 150 ms, and use that to feed the side chain. It makes the attack time much faster. You can, in fact, move the copy track early enough that the compressor will react before a peak hits it -- not even an 1176 can do that.
Thank you. This is a dope suggestion.

Sad thing is, I've got 2 vari mu type comps, 3 vcas, 2 optos and a fet, not a single one of which has a side-chain input

T-T
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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loji's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
The idea being that you copy the track in question, slide the copy earlier by, say, 150 ms, and use that to feed the side chain. It makes the attack time much faster. You can, in fact, move the copy track early enough that the compressor will react before a peak hits it -- not even an 1176 can do that.
That's not really how attack time works ....

The attack time is how long it takes to hit X amount of gain reduction .. it's best expressed in dB/per second

Let's say we have a compressor set to do 6dB of reduction on out signal ...


a 10ms attack time is saying it completes 6dB of reduction in 10ms.

putting 40ms of a 'look-ahead' in the sidechain doesn't turn a 50ms attack into a 10ms attack ...

it's still taking 50ms to hit the same 6dB of reduction . . . you've just started that ramping down earlier. (in extreme cases, before the transient even happens, creating a weird pre-ducking / pre-pump sound) The human ear isn't very forgiving of non-causal events.

Think of attack values a dB/sec because that's what it really is. X amount of reduction in /Y attack time.

It isn't let that the attack let's 10ms of signal through, then instantly start reduction in the gain cell. the reduction starts right away, and takes 10ms to complete. (unless you have a delay or hold control)

The curve of most reduction gain cells are tapered ... so that's why long attacks seem to let more transient through, they reduce less to start, then increase. Some use gain cells that have a built-in lag (optical cells that only react so fast, etc..)

It's the same as a ASDR envelop. The 'Attack' is the curve of the rising edge, NOT a delay before action starts (then you have a 'hold' or dual constant in some advanced compressors which is the Sustain Decay phase) and your Release is the curve of the tailing end. You can shift that whoel curve back or forward in time within the side-chain ... but it doesn't speed it up. Just changes when it happens


Hope that makes sense
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loji View Post
That's not really how attack time works ....
School me in the technicalities all you want. And maybe I'm using the term "attack time" incorrectly. But it works. And people were doing it with modded La2a's and Altecs and Sta-Levels long before I got into the business. Only difference was, before DAWs you had to fly in the "trigger" track by hand.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 3 weeks ago at 06:11 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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loji's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
School me in the technicalities all you want. But it works. And people were doing it with modded La2a's and Altecs and Sta-Levels long before I got into the business.
Not arguing that it's useful, and totally musically valid. But it's not a faster attack.

If you have the DS-1, you can test this all out super easily. . . use the 'preview' function to hear what this does in real time.


But a compressor with a 150ms attack, and -149ms of preview in the side-chain sounds EXTREMELY different than a compressor/limiter with a 1ms attack.

It's going sound much smoother for one, which can often sound better.

No argument the look-ahead with slow attack technique has a place ... but you won't get the same behavior as actually using a faster attack. Choose the specific tools you need based on what you know they can do best.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loji View Post
Choose the specific tools you need based on what you know they can do best.
Sure. But when I started out and was doing 3- and 4-machine radio mixes, usually an La2a or an Altec was the only tool in the shed.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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DougS's Avatar
 

I get this problem all the time with my RS124. I read somewhere on GS that the RS124's initial response is pretty fast in SuperFuse mode. I dont usually use this mode but next time I track vocals with it I plan to give it a try to see if it will be fast enough to cover this problem.

Normally I just edit the track after-the-fact ITB. Kind of a pain but - that's life.

I don't see this problem nearly as much with my Brute II (or a FET I use). The Brute II is an optical compressor and seems to react much faster.

I thought about Brent's early side-chain idea but never tried it. Glad to hear it works.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Addict
 

As an update, Adam has been excellent in communication and working through ideas, I’ll have another go tomorrow but can confirm that Superfuse also did not make a difference.

Lest anyone interpret that I am not satisfied with the RS124s, this is not the case.

If my attempts tomorrow are not successful, I will likely follow conventional wisdom and drop in another compressor after the RS124, keeping all the goodness of the 124 intact and just catching anything missed.

Sure, it would be ideal financially if I needed fewer compressors but, the RS124 is way too good to lose and selecting another additional compressor that can catch the 124 misses, is just another exciting search for audio tools to suit my vision.

Last edited by StevenLMorgan; 2 weeks ago at 08:58 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
As an update, Adam has been excellent in communication and working through ideas, I’ll have another go tomorrow but can confirm that Superfuse also did not make a difference.

Lest anyone interpret that I am not satisfied with the RS124s, this is not the case.

If my attempts tomorrow are not successful, I will likely follow conventional wisdom and drop in another compressor after the RS124, keeping all the goodness of the 124 intact and just catching anything missed.

Sure, it would be ideal financially if I needed fewer compressors but, the RS124 is way too good to lose and selecting another additional compressor that can catch anything the 124 misses, is exciting.
I'll just offer this.

For my workflow, a compressors' primary role is not to catch every peak on the way in. Managing peaks and transients is one of several jobs a compressor can do, but I find I rarely use it in that specific way.

I pretty much always use a compressor in tracking to provide what Hugh Robjohns refers to in this sound on sound article (https://www.soundonsound.com/techniq...el-compression) as "uplift compression", which brings up the quiet parts without affecting the transients in the original material.

If I'm having a problem with signal that's too hot, I'll turn down the gain on the amplifier, or put more distance between the source and the microphone. I find no reason, personally to send things in hot enough that the compressor is the last line of defence before overloading converters.. esp. since I'm planning to use the unprocessed signal .. of course you might find yourself in a situation in which it's not possible to properly manage the input level this way..

..so let's just say I WAS using a compressor as a last line of defence before a hot signal hits my converters, I'd probably try a Fet, or VCA or even an opto before a VariMu.. but that said, I track pretty much every vocal recording I do through either an RS124 or a Mercury 66 (both VariMu style), in parallel (see uplift compression above) .. and I only rarely patch another compressor in before / after, but even then, it's usually more to manage the push/pull of transient shapes or add color, not stand guard against overloading my converters.. but since parallel processing gives you a compressed copy, you can usually dial up your input signal to dig a little deeper into your compressor until it can handle your troublesome peak acceptably, hopefully giving you a useful source for comping should you have missed the mark managing your input levels.

Now, to completely contradict everything I've just said...
Regarding the RS124, I actually would have expected that digging in a little harder into SuperFuse mode would have helped manage your unruly peak, and I assume you've already tried "turning it down" so maybe a 2nd unit with faster action is just what the doctor ordered.. and either way, another good quality outboard compression option should be pretty damn fun and open up a lot of possibilities for you.. and you shouldn't have to spend a ton of money really. I love my api 527, my splice, and my LA500a, but there are so many options nowadays. Keep your eye out for a good deal on a good unit and you probably can't go terribly wrong.

..and yeah, I'd definitely be keeping that RS124 if I was you. It's usually the first compressor I patch in. It does a pretty specific thing to my ears that you're probably not going to get out of a lot of other units (unless I suppose you are modifying an old Altec 436 ..maybe? .)

Anyways, not sure if any of this is helpful at all, but have fun!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
I have been enjoying a vari mu compressor and have a question regarding a specific vocal issue I have encountered.

There is a peak at around 2.08 in the linked, downloadable vocal track that my comp misses with the result being an increased peak due to the overall volume increase. I don't believe the vocal issue, which is a loud "I" after a pause, is that uncommon.

I only have one model vari mu, am wondering if my next comp should be a faster vari mu comp or another type (not keen on VCA) that does not sacrifice sound for speed. I don't really want to have to chain a second comp (1176) before or after my comp to address the peak and I would prefer to use hardware vs software.

If anyone downloads and runs the file; how do your vari mu, optical, etc. comps handle the peak?

What comps are worth a try?

https://soundcloud.com/junior-music-...render/s-igiYZ
Nice singer ...but dynamics aren't there because of settings on the limiter.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Addict
 

File 1 is raw, uncompressed.

Do you believe file 2 and 3 are over compressed @ 3-5 dB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Nice singer ...but dynamics aren't there because of settings on the limiter.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
I don’t understand why you seem to be focused on adding a compressor instead of clip gaining the hot bit down or fader riding or what have you... it’s strange to me.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Addict
 

I don't do a lot of post-processing and no ITB processing.

I do enjoy finding or combining the right hardware for the job and know I am not alone as a few compressor designers have contacted me. Chandler gear is historically accurate with a few twists and I love what they do.

Regarding fast attack, I find it interesting that the Fairchild was designed to be incredibly fast and that Larry Crane designed another incredibly fast circuit that he uses and provides to Fearn.

If it is strange, and I don't deny it is, it is good to know a few have had the same thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
I don’t understand why you seem to be focused on adding a compressor instead of clip gaining the hot bit down or fader riding or what have you... it’s strange to me.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
If you want to stay with a vari mu comp, I think a retro 176 may be what you’re looking for. I’ve had the same issue with the RS124. Usually though the tone is so sweet that I still want it in the vocal chain. RS124 followed by a Retro 176 on vocals is the best of both worlds to me. All the tone you want and then the 176 can tame any peaks that get through.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Thank you for the insight on the 176 fast attack. Would you be open to running the raw vocal track? I have always been intrigued by the 176, did not know about the fast attack and would love to hear it on this specific vocal.

BTW, noticed your location is close to Greensboro, NC. In my day-job I am in Greensboro every week and traveling the world often with my favorite customer. Headed to Switzerland/Italy with them this week kicking off their global software and digital business transformation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seawell View Post
If you want to stay with a vari mu comp, I think a retro 176 may be what you’re looking for. I’ve had the same issue with the RS124. Usually though the tone is so sweet that I still want it in the vocal chain. RS124 followed by a Retro 176 on vocals is the best of both worlds to me. All the tone you want and then the 176 can tame any peaks that get through.

Last edited by StevenLMorgan; 2 weeks ago at 03:12 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by seawell View Post
If you want to stay with a vari mu comp, I think a retro 176 may be what you’re looking for. I’ve had the same issue with the RS124. Usually though the tone is so sweet that I still want it in the vocal chain. RS124 followed by a Retro 176 on vocals is the best of both worlds to me. All the tone you want and then the 176 can tame any peaks that get through.
Man I'd love to try a 176 with my 124.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
Thank you for the insight on the 176 fast attack. Would you be open to running the raw vocal track? I have always been intrigued by the 176, did not know about the fast attack and would love to hear it on this specific vocal.

BTW, noticed your location is close to Greensboro, NC. In my day-job I am in Greensboro every week and traveling the world often with my favorite customer. Headed to Switzerland/Italy with them this week kicking off their global software and digital business transformation.
I wish I could but I am sans 176 at the moment. Hoping to get one again soon!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
The reason I ask is, I've used a couple different La2a's that had been modded to accept a side chain input. The idea being that you copy the track in question, slide the copy earlier by, say, 150 ms, and use that to feed the side chain. It makes the attack time much faster. You can, in fact, move the copy track early enough that the compressor will react before a peak hits it -- not even an 1176 can do that.
Dude. This is really clever.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
There was a brief moment of GAS frenzy where I once considered selling one of my rs124 pair for a 176.

Dodged a bullet I think.
Acquiring a 176 would still be dope
but it would make no sense to go from 2x RS124s to just one. I love those things.

I don’t normally have room in my budget for fancy pairs, but that was a special situation, and I still feel lucky to have ‘em
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenlmorgan View Post
i have been enjoying a vari mu compressor and have a question regarding a specific vocal issue i have encountered.

There is a peak at around 2.08 in the linked, downloadable vocal track that my comp misses with the result being an increased peak due to the overall volume increase. I don't believe the vocal issue, which is a loud "i" after a pause, is that uncommon.

I only have one model vari mu, am wondering if my next comp should be a faster vari mu comp or another type (not keen on vca) that does not sacrifice sound for speed. I don't really want to have to chain a second comp (1176) before or after my comp to address the peak and i would prefer to use hardware vs software.

If anyone downloads and runs the file; how do your vari mu, optical, etc. Comps handle the peak?

What comps are worth a try?

https://soundcloud.com/junior-music-...render/s-igiyz

magic death eye compressor.
Do it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrod View Post
Dude. This is really clever.
Very old-school stuff. I didn't think it up by many means.
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