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Opinions on compressors for tracking vocals?
Old 6th February 2003
  #1
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

Opinions on compressors for tracking vocals?

I 've been using a Tube tech mono (CL2 B ? Is that it? Always forget the name on that one) for the last 10 years. I sang into a Neve a few years ago and thought it was VERY musical. Seemed to be helping me. Made it more fun to sing somehow. It was on a ballad though. I'm about to start my next record and was just wanting input on this. I sing soft I sing LOUD I do everything in between. Very dynamic. Could I do better than the Tubetech? I'm Singing into the Lawson L-251 into a UA 2-610 most of the time. Been trying the Dan alexander (Neve) though as well. Might be better for the real rockin more aggresive stuff? But the compressor thing is what I'm wondering? The tubetech is smooth this we know but is there somthing a bit more ah,,,, helpfull..? Not sure what I'm after here but I'll know when I hear it. Maybe it's the Neve? Looking for suggestions. I'm a first tenor, think, Freddy Murcery, Tommy Shaw, kenny loggins with todays production (crunch) and Beatle influenced song writing. This will be a modern rock record. Thanks,

Mitch
Old 6th February 2003
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Mitch,
This is not a gear suggestion, but technique one. It can be applied to whatever compressors that are available. I picked this up from Fletcher when I first got my 1969. He likes to run the vocals through both channels in series. You can get a really in your face sound that implies dynamics, due to the timbre of different approaches form the vocalist. I often use the comp in the Vox Box followed by the '69 or and RNC or anything in the rack that works for that particular tune/singer/session etc.
Old 6th February 2003
  #3
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We did this on my first record in the mix. Had 3 different ones on me at once. It worked great but I'm talking about tracking. You run that much compresson to tape? SCARY!!!! I like to keep that as clean and simple as possible. Thanks for reminding me though about the multiple compressor thing. I had forgotten about that and hadn't done it recently. Are those RNC things really that good? Thinking about getting some?
M
Old 6th February 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 

My favorites for tracking vocals are an LA-3a or an ADL 1000. They both tend to be on the faster side of the opto-style compressors, and which I seem to prefer when I do vocals. I usually use a Hardy M1 as the pre, then to the compressor, with the compressor output going right to tape (or should I say 'tape'). I usually opt for trying different mics than sticking an EQ in as well -- even when I think i get the EQ right, it always seems to come back and haunt me in some way.


Cheers,
John
Old 6th February 2003
  #5
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

What's an ADL 1000?

Thanks,

Mitch
Old 6th February 2003
  #6
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Ianneve
What's an ADL 1000?
A grainy sounding piece of **** with marketing that says it's an "LA-2A clone". It's about as close to an LA-2A as I am to being Mother Teresa.

Hey... you asked.
Old 6th February 2003
  #7
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
OK... as long as you mentioned one of my stupid pet tricks... here's another... microphone to a mic pre... output of the mic pre to a "mult" [you can also do this trick with a stereo microphone and two mic-pre's... but not too many people have stereo microphones at their disposal].

Out of the mult into two channels of line amp, one with about 10 db more gain than the other. From there, into two channels of compression. Bring the two channels of compression back to a summing buss and assign them to a single track on the recorder.

The first compressor [the one with 10db more gain] is set so when the singer isn't singing loudly, you get a db or two of compression and a solid level to tape [hard disk, whatever... I'm using "tape" as a generic term... OK?].

The second compressor is set up so when the first compressor hits like 10-15db of gain reduction, it's only doing a db or two of gain reduction, with a similar level to tape as the first compressor.

As the singer gets louder or softer, the signal to tape will switch between the two compressors, and you'll end up with a nice, even vocal track that doesn't sound like it's been compressed into submission.

You can use several compressors in each path as long as it sounds good when you're done.

Enjoy.
Old 6th February 2003
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher
OK... as long as you mentioned one of my stupid pet tricks... here's another... microphone to a mic pre... output of the mic pre to a "mult" [you can also do this trick with a stereo microphone and two mic-pre's... but not too many people have stereo microphones at their disposal].

Out of the mult into two channels of line amp, one with about 10 db more gain than the other. From there, into two channels of compression. Bring the two channels of compression back to a summing buss and assign them to a single track on the recorder.

The first compressor [the one with 10db more gain] is set so when the singer isn't singing loudly, you get a db or two of compression and a solid level to tape [hard disk, whatever... I'm using "tape" as a generic term... OK?].

The second compressor is set up so when the first compressor hits like 10-15db of gain reduction, it's only doing a db or two of gain reduction, with a similar level to tape as the first compressor.

As the singer gets louder or softer, the signal to tape will switch between the two compressors, and you'll end up with a nice, even vocal track that doesn't sound like it's been compressed into submission.

You can use several compressors in each path as long as it sounds good when you're done.

Enjoy.
CLEVER!!!

Great tip!

-MattiMattMatt
Old 6th February 2003
  #9
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

KEWWWWLLLLL!!!! I'm a little compresser light at the moment though. Let me ask you this. If a cl-2b was all you had except a few crappy others like a dbx 163 and some others I haven't seen in so long I don't remember what they are, what would you get as your next compresser?

M
Old 6th February 2003
  #10
Someone mentioned the EAR 660 in a thread recently.
Old 7th February 2003
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Ianneve
We did this on my first record in the mix. Had 3 different ones on me at once. It worked great but I'm talking about tracking. You run that much compresson to tape? SCARY!!!! I like to keep that as clean and simple as possible. Thanks for reminding me though about the multiple compressor thing. I had forgotten about that and hadn't done it recently. Are those RNC things really that good? Thinking about getting some?
M
By using two comps I'm not using a ton of compression. Just a few db from each. AND I like it to be on tape (and I actually use TAPE!) the way I want it later.
Old 7th February 2003
  #12
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I see. Nice. I've done away with all my tape machines I'm afraid. I can sing into the Hedd though and turn up the tape knob. Haven't tried that yet.
Old 7th February 2003
  #13
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher
A grainy sounding piece of **** with marketing that says it's an "LA-2A clone". It's about as close to an LA-2A as I am to being Mother Teresa.

Hey... you asked.
I was waiting for that......
Old 7th February 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
Someone mentioned the EAR 660 in a thread recently.
If that's that thing from Tim de Paravacini, anything from Tim de Paravacini is like butter. Like the very very best butter there is.
Old 7th February 2003
  #15
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Here's my bit of genius advice. Since I already have a Cranesong STC-8 I use it on preset "A" (vocal setting, according to the manual) and take about 5db off the loudest stuff. I'm usually happy.

-R
Old 7th February 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher
OK... as long as you mentioned one of my stupid pet tricks... here's another... microphone to a mic pre... output of the mic pre to a "mult" [you can also do this trick with a stereo microphone and two mic-pre's... but not too many people have stereo microphones at their disposal].

Out of the mult into two channels of line amp, one with about 10 db more gain than the other. From there, into two channels of compression. Bring the two channels of compression back to a summing buss and assign them to a single track on the recorder.

The first compressor [the one with 10db more gain] is set so when the singer isn't singing loudly, you get a db or two of compression and a solid level to tape [hard disk, whatever... I'm using "tape" as a generic term... OK?].

The second compressor is set up so when the first compressor hits like 10-15db of gain reduction, it's only doing a db or two of gain reduction, with a similar level to tape as the first compressor.

As the singer gets louder or softer, the signal to tape will switch between the two compressors, and you'll end up with a nice, even vocal track that doesn't sound like it's been compressed into submission.

You can use several compressors in each path as long as it sounds good when you're done.

Enjoy.
The guy that used to record all the ABBA records years ago used a variation on this technique. He would record the girls voices using a stereo AKG mic with both diaphrams twisted to face forward. Then he would apply compression to only one of them leaving the other totally natural. He felt that by not compressing one he was able to give that little bit more dynamic to the vocal performance. Of course most of the time they were using analogue tape, but I believe the album "the Visitors" was one of the earliest uses of the 3M digital multitrack.

Like the tricks of using more than one compressor in series, have done this myself several times, will try to check your stereo mic one out two Fletch!!

Regards


Roland
Old 7th February 2003
  #17
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher
A grainy sounding piece of **** with marketing that says it's an "LA-2A clone". It's about as close to an LA-2A as I am to being Mother Teresa.

Hey... you asked.
While I don't agree with 'grainy sounding piece of ****' part, I defintely agree that it sounds nothing like an LA-2. The analogy to Mother Teresa is right on !

As far as the EAR 660, it is a really cool compressor, but for tracking vocals it is kind of hard to get to a comfortable setting quickly. I love it on the vocal while mixing though. It takes a few minutes to dial it in, but once you get it to 'sit ' the way you want it to, it can be a huge sound. Also great on acoustic guitars as well...

Cheers,
John
Old 7th February 2003
  #18
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recorderman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher

As the singer gets louder or softer, the signal to tape will switch between the two compressors,
OK...I just got stupid.....how does it "switch". Seems to me you'd have a squashed sound in parrallel with an un-squashed sound when the singer got loud.

Oh...my two cents is the Ol' Limiter first, follwed by a compressor. Limiter threshhold set high yo just grab a db or two of the loudest dynamics, followed by a low ratio compressor to gentle squeeze all of the time. The limiter keeps the compressor from evry going more than say 5 db og gain reduction. 1176 into a 160; or 33609 to the tub-tech are a good examples.
Old 7th February 2003
  #19
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

i prefer to use mic technique with dynamic vocalists... get them up on the mic [set by the pop filter] when singing quieter and have them rock back for louder sections. i would rather have that happen than a compressor kicking in on the louder sections.
Old 7th February 2003
  #20
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

I woudn't and I'm a singer. The tone changes too much for a singer like me. I would have to back up WAY too far on the loud sections. THere is no way and it's just not possible. I hesitate to ask this as it might sound lame but I have the UAd-1 card in my computer and I know it's modeled compressers can't touch the originals but are they better then like say that RNC that mercenary is selling? Just wondering if I could upgrade by going with some inexpensive outboard compressers as opposed to the UAD's Im using in the mix. I'm talking about for mixing. Anyone on here know?
Old 7th February 2003
  #21
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recorderman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
i prefer to use mic technique with dynamic vocalists... get them up on the mic [set by the pop filter] when singing quieter and have them rock back for louder sections. i would rather have that happen than a compressor kicking in on the louder sections.
that's wny you put a limiter first..only hitting @ 1db (10:1) then a compressor at 2.5:1 or 3:1. Done right..ou don't hear the limmiting/compression. I agree with you about mic technique..that nevr hurts, but unless they're experianced at it, and the room/gobeo stituation sounds good they can actually do more harm than good, in that the presense/proximity&coloration of their movement can actually be much more apparrent than the limmiter/compressor.

Flecther...what didn't I understand?
Old 7th February 2003
  #22
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recorderman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ianneve
I woudn't and I'm a singer. The tone changes too much for a singer like me. I would have to back up WAY too far on the loud sections. THere is no way and it's just not possible. I hesitate to ask this as it might sound lame but I have the UAd-1 card in my computer and I know it's modeled compressers can't touch the originals but are they better then like say that RNC that mercenary is selling? Just wondering if I could upgrade by going with some inexpensive outboard compressers as opposed to the UAD's Im using in the mix. I'm talking about for mixing. Anyone on here know?
find a used dbx160 (the old 1/2 rack ones with the analogue VU meter)
great for soft compression on vocals. You could chain it after your tube tech.
TubTech meduim/fast to fast attack; fast release;10:1; 1db of gain reduction on your loudest dynamics...into the 160 @ 3:1; around 3-4db of gain reduction. done.
Old 7th February 2003
  #23
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

I know a guy with some dbx 185's for sale. $750 each. The big 2 space vu meter ones but I've never heard one. At least that I remember? All the raving though about this RNC compresser has got me very curious to go in that direction. So cheap.
Old 7th February 2003
  #24
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recorderman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ianneve
dbx 185's
165
Old 7th February 2003
  #25
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

LOL. Right. How are they? I guess I could try one out? I'm thinking it's not worth the money though?
Old 7th February 2003
  #26
Quote:
Originally posted by paterno
While I don't agree with 'grainy sounding piece of ****' part, I defintely agree that it sounds nothing like an LA-2. The analogy to Mother Teresa is right on !

As far as the EAR 660, it is a really cool compressor, but for tracking vocals it is kind of hard to get to a comfortable setting quickly. I love it on the vocal while mixing though. It takes a few minutes to dial it in, but once you get it to 'sit ' the way you want it to, it can be a huge sound. Also great on acoustic guitars as well...

Cheers,
John
Hey John,

I actually dig it for tracking vocals when the LA2A is called for(more transparent).

Its funny when tracking, I use it the same as the CL1B(very low ratio/high threshold thing). Its much easier to dial in then lets say a GML8900(my other vocal favorite).

When mixing vocals there are other comps I reach for, but this one isn't a bad choice.
Old 7th February 2003
  #27
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
The multiple compressor thing really works. Most recently it was a 160VU in front of an 1176. I doubt I'll need more compression when we get around to mixing this project. Maybe just a little bit to even things out but I doubt it'll be more then 2-4dB at a really low ratio, maybe 3:1. The buss compression should keep everything in check. The 165's are cool, but there are other things I'd rather own that don't cost a lot more. Like a Distressor.
Old 7th February 2003
  #28
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Ianneve's Avatar
 

Yes I've been wanting one of those for too long now. I think I'm going to buy this little RNC thing though as for $175 it's not much of a risk. I don't EVER buy cheap anymore but this might be a good one? I need some more outboard compressers. For stereo guitars etc. Supposed to be good enough for the stereo bus as well? We will see?
Old 7th February 2003
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Don't let the price fool you. The RNC is a GREAT piece of gear. They are very useful and can do a lot of things. I have three of them.
Old 8th February 2003
  #30
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chessparov's Avatar
 

If you buy the RNC at www.mercenary.com they double the warranty to two years-not that you'd probably ever have a problem with it.
Plus the pin-ups are nice to look at over there...

Chris
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