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Best Vocal Tracking Compressor. Period.
Old 13th October 2009
  #1
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Best Vocal Tracking Compressor. Period.

I am placing several threads for various answers but I noticed this is a critical question and may help me narrow down my options.

I am looking for the best available vocal compressor for vocal tracking. The type of vocal ranges anywhere from Pink, Avril (Rock/Pop) through to Pop to some RnB Alicia Keys, Mariah. (female and male singers).

Without going over the other components of the chain, I am looking for the best option forward, so I can purchase a brand new one soon. One catch is that I am not interested in second hand items.

The options I have on the table currently are as follows:
1. UA 1176 AE (Blue Stripe)
2. UA 1176 LN
3. Purple Audio MC77
4. Retro 176
5. Tubetech CL1B
6. Empirical Labs Distressor EL8
7. API 525
8. API 2500
9. Summit Audio TLA-100
10. Using the Compressor on my ISA430 and not getting another comp.
11. UA LA2A

FYI, my pre is a 1073DPA Neve and an API5500EQ.

I hope you can assist in narrowing down my selection from 11 to 1 or 2, so I can do a shoot out with those two.

Thanks so much all and sorry for the multiple amounts of posts/threads and being anal about it.
Old 13th October 2009
  #2
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goldenlotus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Really there is no best. I have the CL1b, 1176, and Distressor, and use each one for different sounds depending on the song. I'd probably take the CL1b if I could have only one.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Empire Prod's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have used almost everything out there at one point or another, and I came back to using La2a's for the majority of vocals I track. The reason is twofold. First, the La2a is a very easy to use and hard to screw up compressor, secondly, it imparts a nice color to the track and at the same time preserves the source material in a way that interacts well with most other compressors come mix time. I know the La2a is old news to some, but they are staples for a reason.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I guess as a producer, I am trying to find that one solution within budget. I aspire to producers such as Max Martin, Glen Ballard etc., who at most times, had a generic vocal chain with perhaps one compressor in the chain. So based on that, I am trying to work out what would be the best that would be versatile, safe, and still add a color/tone when pushed as well. I hope that helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenlotus View Post
Really there is no best. I have the CL1b, 1176, and Distressor, and use each one for different sounds depending on the song. I'd probably take the CL1b if I could have only one.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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paul999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The LA2A would be my pick for tracking vox.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
If its an LA2A and I am particular that I want a brand new item, would you recommend the new versions at UA?
Quote:
Originally Posted by paul999 View Post
The LA2A would be my pick for tracking vox.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
If its an LA2A and I am particular that I want a brand new item, would you recommend the new versions at UA?
... or a Tube Tech CL1b. .... or a Summit TLA-100a.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
HI and thanks Tony.
I am curious why all are on the LA2A, CL1B vibe for vocal tracking? Is it primarily because the LA2A et.al, retain the original vocal as much as possible? .. rather than say a 1176 or EL8, where its a little more vocal enhancement/coloration on top of compression/limiting?
Also, with LA2A and CL1B, would they be just as good for instruments such as Bass as well?
Also, with the LA2A and CL1B, if there is a very 'attack' oriented singer, would there ever be a stage where 'oops, s/he needs a 1176' due to their attack/peaks in the vocals rather than a smooth comp like the LA2A?
Finally, what are your opinions on the Retro 176? Is that another 1176 type or perhaps alittle more of 1176 with LA2A?

THanks,


Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
... or a Tube Tech CL1b. .... or a Summit TLA-100a.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
there is no best, period.
just what works on different people.
sometimes a super expensive fancy pants Ear, sometimes the cheaper dbx,sometimes the Retro 176,sometimes the new little BAC 500 thingy, LA2a..Neve 2254,etc and everything in between.sometimes a combination of two different things....etc,etc
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi

Thanks for that.
While I understand that there is no 'one' for all, I have to work with my budget and be realistic and get an answer.
My comp is for vocal tracking. I guess it makes sense not to color the vocal too much too right?
All the coloring can be done with Eqs, Efx and compressors in mixing stage right?
So to get a basic compression done to kill the vocal highs and lows, is what I am looking at.
With absolutely zero knowledge of this topic, I can just narrow it down to perhaps a LA2A, CL1B or Summit for a less complicated application.
So I am unsure why you would say there are many......while the many can be saved for mixing at a mixing studio. All I want to do is track vocals and use my UAD-2 card for mixing etc.
Thanks for understanding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
there is no best, period.
just what works on different people.
sometimes a super expensive fancy pants Ear, sometimes the cheaper dbx,sometimes the Retro 176,sometimes the new little BAC 500 thingy, LA2a..Neve 2254,etc and everything in between.sometimes a combination of two different things....etc,etc
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
With absolutely zero knowledge of this topic, I can just narrow it down to perhaps a LA2A, CL1B or Summit for a less complicated application.
If you must narrow to one tracking comp, then these are 3 good choices ... the CL-1b being the cleanest of them all, and allows tube swapping (there are only 2) for some color options.

The Distressor has to be considered as a Swiss Army Knife comp as well. Although I'm tired of hearing them, that's for a good reason.
Old 13th October 2009
  #12
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thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post

Thanks so much all and sorry for the multiple amounts of posts/threads and being anal about it.
Focus more on your choice of vocal mics. With the right mic the compressor becomes less important. Heck you can track vocals without a comp if you had to. Also in the mix the vocal will go through a chain of some kind to maximize it that capturing a great performance is really the most important thing.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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paul999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
If its an LA2A and I am particular that I want a brand new item, would you recommend the new versions at UA?
The new version is fine. If you are looking for a all rounder the distressor is good. My one comp I can't live without is the manley variable-mu. If you have something like that around the UAD card gets tougher and tougher to use.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi All

Where would the Retro 176 fit into this? Does the name speak for itself OR would it perhaps be somewhere between a 1176 and a LA2A?
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi

Yeah that was the other option (to either spend more $ on the mic or the comp) and my thought was to get the Hardware chain right first.
I currently have a C12VR but am considering a U87 or CM7 FET even.
However, I gathered if I got the main hardware chain right, then with the Mics, I can either hire the most highest end of the lot for any special vocal performances, while I have a 'do it all' type U87 for day to day stuff.
My issue is the peaks being too high for pop singers and not compressed when going through a chain like a Neve 1073+API5500EQ. If I had a neat compressor, my hardware chain would be sorted for now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Focus more on your choice of vocal mics. With the right mic the compressor becomes less important. Heck you can track vocals without a comp if you had to. Also in the mix the vocal will go through a chain of some kind to maximize it that capturing a great performance is really the most important thing.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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Ken Lewis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Its not on your list but really should be. The Thermionic Culture "The Phoenix" is my favorite vocal compressor i've ever used. Has sounded great on every voice i've used it on during tracking and mixing (its my main vocal compressor for mix downs as well as my vocal compressor for tracking).

I also really like the Retro Sta Level and the Tube Tech CL1B. Cant go wrong with an 1176 but it wont do what the Phoenix does.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Are you referring to mixing or tracking? I am assuming most would be using the UAD card during mixing....or Are you saying the Manley is such an awesome comp that the UAD card is not even needed in the mixing stage?
Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul999 View Post
The new version is fine. If you are looking for a all rounder the distressor is good. My one comp I can't live without is the manley variable-mu. If you have something like that around the UAD card gets tougher and tougher to use.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Hi

Yeah that was the other option (to either spend more $ on the mic or the comp) and my thought was to get the Hardware chain right first.
I currently have a C12VR but am considering a U87 or CM7 FET even.
However, I gathered if I got the main hardware chain right, then with the Mics, I can either hire the most highest end of the lot for any special vocal performances, while I have a 'do it all' type U87 for day to day stuff.
My issue is the peaks being too high for pop singers and not compressed when going through a chain like a Neve 1073+API5500EQ. If I had a neat compressor, my hardware chain would be sorted for now.
Well i can tell you over the years(its been now 23 years) i've recorded the most dynamic of singers(the would be musical theater, gospel and classical) and i usually don't use any compression and just ride the output of the mic pre to tape. When recording pop/r&B and rap i do compress but never have to that hard. I do compress when mixing down but that's a whole other subject onto itself. I have noticed lately in terms of the best vocals i've gotten to mix are vocals people did at home but with no compression/limiting. Makes it much easier to pick the right chain for mixing the vocal through.

If it were me i would put my money to getting the 3-4 best collection of vocal mics i could afford. Vocal mics that will work on anyone in any genre and sound good.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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paul999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Are you referring to mixing or tracking? I am assuming most would be using the UAD card during mixing....or Are you saying the Manley is such an awesome comp that the UAD card is not even needed in the mixing stage?
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Sorry I could have been clearer. I am saying the manley comp is so awesome I wouldn't use a Uad card when mixing.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi

Thanks for your advice. I appreciate yours and others' very much.
I am curious to know though. Are there 3-4 all purpose mics you may recommend? the most expensive (brand new) lets say could be upto 4K?

Thanks,
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Well i can tell you over the years(its been now 23 years) i've recorded the most dynamic of singers(the would be musical theater, gospel and classical) and i usually don't use any compression and just ride the output of the mic pre to tape. When recording pop/r&B and rap i do compress but never have to that hard. I do compress when mixing down but that's a whole other subject onto itself. I have noticed lately in terms of the best vocals i've gotten to mix are vocals people did at home but with no compression/limiting. Makes it much easier to pick the right chain for mixing the vocal through.

If it were me i would put my money to getting the 3-4 best collection of vocal mics i could afford. Vocal mics that will work on anyone in any genre and sound good.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
First +1 on it depends on the singer and there is no best choice 4 all.

Secondly, if you like to go for the LA2A I don't recommend the UA reissue.
I meantioned this b4: comparing my well maintained original Teletronix to
the reissue was like night and day.
It sounded as different as comparing an 1176 to an LA2A.
Maybe I was just lucky and got an excellent old one (even they do sound very different from unit to unit).

Thirdly, +1 on the mic choice which to me also is more important.

as usual just my 0.02

same goes for the mic ...
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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paul999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Hi

Thanks for your advice. I appreciate yours and others' very much.
I am curious to know though. Are there 3-4 all purpose mics you may recommend? the most expensive (brand new) lets say could be upto 4K?

Thanks,
Wunder C7-GT
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
good techniche and riding the fader
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Buzz audio SOC 1.1 is where my hunt ended when it comes to vocal tracking and compression.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
True. Unfortunately, Time is money

Quote:
Originally Posted by michj View Post
good techniche and riding the fader
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
True. Unfortunately, Time is money
That makes no sense,you don't have time to use a fader?
loads of people abuse compression using it as a catch all for tracking vocals and the results are often lifeless, flat .
take the time to do it right and you save time and maybe money..on the back end when your mixing
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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CJ1973's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi

I am not here for philosophy related conversation. I am not an engineer per se, but sure know to produce a song.
My reason for that is firstly, I track(this is for tracking) so when I track through my pre, i have no manual faders in front of me (no SSL nor some vintage board) so its digital and thats it.
So when you say 'fader' it means nothing to me in tracking as I dont intend on moving my mouse up and down when tracking.
During mixing, its a different game obviously. the Compressor is to kill very minimal highs but not to lose tone. It takes time just adjusting levels of each word, especially with a half bad singer occassionally.
Time is money for me because to do that process is a waste of time over 10 songs, because a decent enough compressor would have given me a less frustrating product to work with, and saves me time later too.

Hope I have understood you correctly on the 'fader' business and hope we can move along to getting me an answer for my question. I know there are back street alleys to get there, but I have a road I know and just need a bike for the road. not a scooter for the alley.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
That makes no sense,you don't have time to use a fader?
loads of people abuse compression using it as a catch all for tracking vocals and the results are often lifeless, flat .
take the time to do it right and you save time and maybe money..on the back end when your mixing
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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GYang's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Many compressors are great for tracking vox.
I have very good experience with DW Fearn, Buzz SOC and above all Atomic Squeeze Box, but typically I start with Tube Tech or LA2A and in 90% of cases nothing else is necessary.
Also, I never track vox without compressor.
Never.
Period.
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I would pick an EAR 660 over every single one of those.

Failing that, I would opt for a Retro 176.

Sounds good to me thumbsup
Old 13th October 2009 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Hi

I am not here for philosophy related conversation. I am not an engineer per se, but sure know to produce a song.
My reason for that is firstly, I track(this is for tracking) so when I track through my pre, i have no manual faders in front of me (no SSL nor some vintage board) so its digital and thats it.
So when you say 'fader' it means nothing to me in tracking as I dont intend on moving my mouse up and down when tracking.
During mixing, its a different game obviously. the Compressor is to kill very minimal highs but not to lose tone. It takes time just adjusting levels of each word, especially with a half bad singer occassionally.
Time is money for me because to do that process is a waste of time over 10 songs, because a decent enough compressor would have given me a less frustrating product to work with, and saves me time later too.

Hope I have understood you correctly on the 'fader' business and hope we can move along to getting me an answer for my question. I know there are back street alleys to get there, but I have a road I know and just need a bike for the road. not a scooter for the alley.
No worries man. just to clarify.
Faders can mean a couple things:
the output pot on your mic pre which can be used just like a console's fader to ride level.. OR and fader on a mixer/console and it can greatly improve the way a vocal sits come mix time.
if your going to spend possibly big bucks on a fancy new compressor this is pretty basic stuff to know


ok you seem dead set on buying a new comp
get an EAR 660.
$5 to 7k. they're great
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