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Vocals too dry/flat/bassy
Old 6 days ago
  #1
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Sybille's Avatar
 

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Vocals too dry/flat/bassy

Hello everyone,

I just finished my vocal booth, and I honestly love it.. PRANK!
Mostly liking the look

I started running some tests inside, and the recordings sound dull, flat, lifeless, I know that's how its supposed to sound in a vocal booth but..

I'm working with Ref C+ MSS 10 (so should be pretty bright heh?) but still lifeless, I probably have overdone the absorption process, too many OC 703 (4") ?

But still, i find myself having to use a lot of eq boosting the highs to counterbalance that dry, dark sound and it works in a certain extent but then the vocals gets sizzling, fuzzy, kind of like eletric sounding sorta speak and this doesnt sound natural.

Is that common result? Do i have to keep on going and now stack de-esser and soothe to counterbalance the harshness/sibilance or am I doing something wrong?

could it be related to mic placement or gain ?

If i sing close to the mic it starts sounding like an old recording, kind of like old radio sounds, megaphone style effect of some sort.

If i sing further away I lose the clarity and upfront sound i'm searching for.

Thanks in advance, I hope some people faced that problem at some point in their life and managed to fix it so they can enlighten me.
Old 6 days ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 

Sounds like you need a new mic, processing unit, cord... Vocals should sound dull and lifeless, the idea is to have clean vocals to work with depending on genre pop is usually compressing vocals and throwing it through a couple effects depending on you're experience processing vocals I use izotope nectar for vocals usually because it gets the job done fast for a reference then if I'm ever going to push out a major record I make sure to remake everything through hardware processors to ad unique artifacts... One thing you can do is placing a wooden block behind the mic if its a little too dull in there or having like a triangle of wood around you by strips... I tend to double up vocals who sound dull pan one hard left and the other hard right, re route those vocals to two busses then compress them in one bus, Slight dist, Delay plugin and other things depending on genre, the other bus is just a lexicon reverb wet only channel... The vocals should really be crafted around the track anyway...
Old 6 days ago
  #3
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Owen L T's Avatar
Chances are that in a home-made vocal booth, you still want to close mic your vocals as far as possible - otherwise, you're really just asking for more of whatever greatly-deadened booth sound you have to be baked into the recording.

And, yeah: Dead Small Space isn't something you want to listen to too much by itself. But, here's the thing with booths: their very nature is to sound un-natural. Nowhere else do we experience the human voice stripped of spatial cues. And, for most of us, the reason for getting heavy handed with the treatment is that the natural sound of our room s**ks. So it stands to reason that artificial reverb is even more necessary to bring the vocal back to life, to some extent - and that you may just want to make sure you fire-up a go to reverb that much sooner in the process, the better not to be distracted by your boothy vocal.
Old 6 days ago
  #4
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Thanks for the help !! Wow that really reassures me in a way..

It's just when you hear the final vocals going out of big studios you always think wow that sounds so lush and so natural, that's so rich sounding yet so crisp and clear and upfront. It must have sounded good early, even from the recording phase.

But in fact, what you're trying to say is that behind that result is a lot of processing and work? Especially if the vocals were tracked in a dead booth?

I guess my original question should have been is it normal that my RAW recording (right out of the vocal booth) sounds unnatural and ****ty.
And from what you told me it is.

Ok so that really means i have to work on my processing to give life back to those poor dead vocals.

Any advice apart from reverb/new-york compression/doubling to bring life back?

For example in a mix where you would want to stay very simple and clean, like for an acoustic piano/vocals only song. (That would still be tracked in a dead booth)
How would you make the voice lively without processing it in a "too obvious" way?

Thanks a lot
Old 6 days ago
  #5
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I’m surprised no one asked or you didn’t volunteer some details about your booth. Just saying 703 doesn’t say much about the booth. Picture, dimensions, mic placement... anything? Some booths are not neutral and in fact do not do anything good for vocals.
Also, I’ve never heard of your mic, or I’m not deciphering your shorthand description. What mic?
Old 6 days ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I’m surprised no one asked or you didn’t volunteer some details about your booth. Just saying 703 doesn’t say much about the booth. Picture, dimensions, mic placement... anything? Some booths are not neutral and in fact do not do anything good for vocals.
Also, I’ve never heard of your mic, or I’m not deciphering your shorthand description. What mic?
The Mic is the Manley reference C (black version), the preamp is the martinsound MSS-10 and the booth is like that :

http://www.vocalbooth.com/images/dia...-footprint.jpg

(The 14 carat version)

Started from that blueprint and built it myself.

Its approximately 2m50 in height and i covered everything in OC 703 4" with a 4" air gap behind, from walls to ceiling, and everything is covered in guilford.

Only floor i let plain wood with a carpet above, but even below floor there's are 703s and air gap.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
Lives for gear
Thanks. Quite a booth. You almost have a little anechoic chamber. That’s a very sterile environment. You didn’t say that you find it uncomfortable to sing in your booth, but said that the vocal recordings were so flat and dry that they seem strange. As others have said, that’s not necessarily a problem. You can use reverb and ambience generation to put that vocal “non-sound” into any acoustic space that you choose, because it has almost no room sound in the recording.
It’s hard to opine about whether the mic is the type or choice that best fits your voice. The Manley mics (and all their equipment) have a generally good reputation, but I haven’t tried the Ref C or heard your voice, and that’s the rubber meeting the road in this thread.
Good luck. I respect your high standards in everything discussed here so far.
Old 5 days ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Thanks. Quite a booth. You almost have a little anechoic chamber. That’s a very sterile environment. You didn’t say that you find it uncomfortable to sing in your booth, but said that the vocal recordings were so flat and dry that they seem strange. As others have said, that’s not necessarily a problem. You can use reverb and ambience generation to put that vocal “non-sound” into any acoustic space that you choose, because it has almost no room sound in the recording.
It’s hard to opine about whether the mic is the type or choice that best fits your voice. The Manley mics (and all their equipment) have a generally good reputation, but I haven’t tried the Ref C or heard your voice, and that’s the rubber meeting the road in this thread.
Good luck. I respect your high standards in everything discussed here so far.
First, thanks a lot. You warmed my heart.. I am only 27 years old, all I have acquired until today I have struggled to get and I sacrificed myself a lot along the years. No one around me is in the music business nor understands me..

I started out as a singing teacher, not earning much, never travelling or buying fancy clothes..

In parrallel i would learn mixing and mastering from online courses, no real good place to learn that in France where I leave unfortunately..

Then one year ago, I had enough money I started renting a place where I could properly make my own studio, took me the entire year to build a proper vocal booth and set up everything in a good way, from electricity to the small details.

And here am I today, everything is finally ready. My dream is to make it in the music industry as a pop / soft rock singer. So I'm gonna do my best to make professional songs/covers that i can confidently share on youtube and other social media so I can maybe get noticed by a label someday.

That's why I'm asking all of this.. I'm never confident enough with the quality I'm getting..so I try to improve my sound as much as I can.

To come back to the subject, It's indeed very strange to sing in the booth lol, like without the monitoring in the headphones it is nearly impossible to stay in pitch for me.

Also, you're right, I now plan to do some recordings so I can post them and maybe have some more detailed insight on whats wrong with them.
Old 5 days ago
  #9
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybille View Post
and the recordings sound dull, flat, lifeless,
To you. But are they really? Could be. Could also be your monitoring env.

Have you tried recording anything else in there? Hihat, tambourine, etc. How does that sound?

Have you tried recording yourself outside your booth? Just as a test, to see if the recording outside also feels dull, flat, lifeless to you. Can you rent a mic from somewhere? Say, a C12, or U67, or...? There are places that will do the rental through the mail. Costs a little more, but if there is nobody local, that's a good option.

Cheers.
Old 5 days ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
To you. But are they really? Could be. Could also be your monitoring env.

Have you tried recording anything else in there? Hihat, tambourine, etc. How does that sound?

Have you tried recording yourself outside your booth? Just as a test, to see if the recording outside also feels dull, flat, lifeless to you. Can you rent a mic from somewhere? Say, a C12, or U67, or...? There are places that will do the rental through the mail. Costs a little more, but if there is nobody local, that's a good option.

Cheers.
No, I just finished the vocal booth so I didn't try anything else inside apart from vocals. I have to admit that I use midi a lot for the other instruments so I don't need to record inside the booth.

I will try to record something else inside, just to see how it sounds.

Unfortunately I live in a small town in France, we don't have places like that here, to be honest we're quite late in france with all thats related to sound engineering. Even the courses I've taken along the years I had to take them from american or english websites.

Outside of the vocal booth, the room is huge, like 67m² with a 3m ceiling, so there's a huge untamable reverb going on and of course it sounds more lively.
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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I don’t think anyone needs to suggest the OP spend money on a new mic when you haven’t heard clips with the original mic (which is far from a known problem mic).
Since the OP is somewhat new at this and has an unusually well-controlled booth, it seems normal to start with doubts, questions and insecurities.
I’d love to hear some clips, both dry and with some reverb. If the clips were in French it would make them special here.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
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Maybe you need a new rug.

Old 5 days ago
  #13
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I don’t think anyone needs to suggest the OP spend money on a new mic when you haven’t heard clips with the original mic (which is far from a known problem mic). .
Yeah I had to laugh when I read people advising to upgrade the mic , before he announced the brand. I mean gosh, what pop singer would want to use a Manley!?

To the OP, I'm not up to date on my metric system to know your booth dimensions, but a mic that bright with lots of gain is likely to sound a bit "boxey" in a booth--especially if the ceiling is low. I have an 8x8x8 WHisper Room, and even that sounds slighly boxey with a brighter mic. Good reverb is a must. Try three or four different well-reviewed reverbs and blend the levels,using the Abbey road eq trick. A little saturation might help also. And you'll probably laugh at this, but you can also lower the mic from the ceiling and sit down or crouch and it will sound less boxey that way. Of course, the closer you are to the mic , the less of the room you'll pick up, so that can work hand in hand, but only if you compensate for the lack of natural ambience with good reverb.

All else failing, just throw some memory foam in the corner of the room and record there. Sounds like it might be pretty decent....
Old 5 days ago
  #14
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I don’t think anyone needs to suggest the OP spend money on a new mic when you haven’t heard clips with the original mic (which is far from a known problem mic).
Since the OP is somewhat new at this and has an unusually well-controlled booth, it seems normal to start with doubts, questions and insecurities.
I’d love to hear some clips, both dry and with some reverb. If the clips were in French it would make them special here.
I'll do that as soon as I can.
Old 5 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisewagon View Post
Maybe you need a new rug.

Ahahahah made my day, this movie is legend. It really tied the room together
Old 5 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBaaron View Post
Yeah I had to laugh when I read people advising to upgrade the mic , before he announced the brand. I mean gosh, what pop singer would want to use a Manley!?

To the OP, I'm not up to date on my metric system to know your booth dimensions, but a mic that bright with lots of gain is likely to sound a bit "boxey" in a booth--especially if the ceiling is low. I have an 8x8x8 WHisper Room, and even that sounds slighly boxey with a brighter mic. Good reverb is a must. Try three or four different well-reviewed reverbs and blend the levels,using the Abbey road eq trick. A little saturation might help also. And you'll probably laugh at this, but you can also lower the mic from the ceiling and sit down or crouch and it will sound less boxey that way. Of course, the closer you are to the mic , the less of the room you'll pick up, so that can work hand in hand, but only if you compensate for the lack of natural ambience with good reverb.

All else failing, just throw some memory foam in the corner of the room and record there. Sounds like it might be pretty decent....
Thanks for the nice tips, I'm gonna try all of that. Concerning the reverbs I was advised lately to try Exponential Audio Stratus and Symphony. Do you think it would bring nicely life back to the vocals?
Old 5 days ago
  #17
Lives for gear
Not hearing the vocal from your description, there are a lot of things you can do to open up a track. Funny how people recommend getting more gear when you have a great mic. Try a bright verb with early reflections and a Kush Clariphonic if you want something to open up the high end. An amazing plug in that is like a sonic can opener. You'll be able to use it on everything and is a great tool. The Electra is a great eq for mids also. Honestly if you can't get highs from that, then I'd worry!

I'd also try singing off axis and moving around the mic. May sound a little nuts but even try holding it like a dynamic and see what angle works best (easier to move around). Sometimes singing not straight to capsule can work. Cheating is your friend here. I have an Oktava 319 and is way too dark singing straight into it. Singing more across the top of the mic actually works for it, and picking up the throat. Distance is a big deal also. Holding the mic you can play with it organically and get what works for your voice. There is no right way really and you may be surprised. Good luck!
Old 5 days ago
  #18
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Sybille's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
Not hearing the vocal from your description, there are a lot of things you can do to open up a track. Funny how people recommend getting more gear when you have a great mic. Try a bright verb with early reflections and a Kush Clariphonic if you want something to open up the high end. An amazing plug in that is like a sonic can opener. You'll be able to use it on everything and is a great tool. The Electra is a great eq for mids also. Honestly if you can't get highs from that, then I'd worry!

I'd also try singing off axis and moving around the mic. May sound a little nuts but even try holding it like a dynamic and see what angle works best (easier to move around). Sometimes singing not straight to capsule can work. Cheating is your friend here. I have an Oktava 319 and is way too dark singing straight into it. Singing more across the top of the mic actually works for it, and picking up the throat. Distance is a big deal also. Holding the mic you can play with it organically and get what works for your voice. There is no right way really and you may be surprised. Good luck!
Thanks for your answer, I'm gonna try a high quality bright verb with early reflection and see how it helps.

I have the Clariphonic and to be honest this is the tool that brings the most life back to my vocals at the moment, but when i overdo it, it tends to sound nearly electrical, too sizzling. And if i don't overdo it, I find my vocals are not crisp enough/lively/rich/upfront.

I don't have the electra though, how much of a difference does it make?
I use proQ for destructive EQs (pre comp) but I never know what to use as a boosting EQ (post comp), would electra be the one?

Also, you're right, I need to experiment a lot with my position towards the mic.
Old 5 days ago
  #19
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When you state and restate what the vocal needs, it leads you to add what the vocal seems to lack. In this case you add top end and quickly get to “sizzly” and “metallic” as descriptors.
Instead of boosting highs, cut lows and add gain. If you have a very nice, gradual Bandaxall EQ, you can sometimes apply a deep but gradual cut curve that starts as high as 2 kHz. It leaves the highs with their natural un-EQd frequency balance, free of phase shift, and reduces the body of the vocal to taste.
The old “cut don’t boost” advice is still good advice.
Old 5 days ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybille View Post
Thanks for the nice tips, I'm gonna try all of that. Concerning the reverbs I was advised lately to try Exponential Audio Stratus and Symphony. Do you think it would bring nicely life back to the vocals?
Can't say I've tried that one. Probably the best thing we can do point you towards a viable solution is if you upload a vocal track. It can just be "Amazing Grace" or whatever your warm-up routine consists of. Sometimes, certain voices sound better on a dynamic. A highly-driven old Senneheiser through a CAPI ebauy 312 pre won't set you back but about 700 quid and can be pure gold in the right context. Not quite what I would think of first for modern pop music, but one never knows how it's going to shape up until just that moment. I think you're probably closer to where you need to be with the Manley , but it doesn't hurt to discuss options.
Old 4 days ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybille View Post
Ahahahah made my day, this movie is legend. It really tied the room together
Hahahah...

Seriously though, I track vocals with a Neumann TLM-193. Not a very bright mic, but when you start compressing all the siblance comes up in volume. And then yes, I use a de-essor to clean up any harsh frequencies.

I've never used the mic you have, just telling you how I handle vocals.
Old 4 days ago
  #22
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Yeah Electra is very nice for high mids. Demo it and see. Another one is Hornet sw34 which I also use for cuts. You may be able to roll off some low end or low mids etc. Great eq and Hornet is having a 24 hour sale (cheap as hell). The Kush 456a can also open up a track in small doses (also cheap). Dial in to taste. Ambience and delay is something else you can play with. Ambience will give you a slap echo. I really find mic technique helps a LOT. Some mics change a lot depending on what position you sing into them and great vocalists always work the mic.
Old 4 days ago
  #23
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Sybille's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBaaron View Post
Can't say I've tried that one. Probably the best thing we can do point you towards a viable solution is if you upload a vocal track. It can just be "Amazing Grace" or whatever your warm-up routine consists of. Sometimes, certain voices sound better on a dynamic. A highly-driven old Senneheiser through a CAPI ebauy 312 pre won't set you back but about 700 quid and can be pure gold in the right context. Not quite what I would think of first for modern pop music, but one never knows how it's going to shape up until just that moment. I think you're probably closer to where you need to be with the Manley , but it doesn't hurt to discuss options.
I'll post as soon as I can spend some time in the studio ( Job's taking so much time beside it :( )
Old 4 days ago
  #24
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Sybille's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
Yeah Electra is very nice for high mids. Demo it and see. Another one is Hornet sw34 which I also use for cuts. You may be able to roll off some low end or low mids etc. Great eq and Hornet is having a 24 hour sale (cheap as hell). The Kush 456a can also open up a track in small doses (also cheap). Dial in to taste. Ambience and delay is something else you can play with. Ambience will give you a slap echo. I really find mic technique helps a LOT. Some mics change a lot depending on what position you sing into them and great vocalists always work the mic.
Thanks a lot, I love to try new plugins, specifically when they are trying to achieve clarity so I'll definitely check those.

Do you have any recommendation concerning the compressor?

I got so many, which compressor could be the best deal bringing clarity and punch/upfront sound for modern recordings you think ?

Like is there a specific compressor known to colour vocals in a crisp way ? I don't know maybe adding high harmonics or something.

I got all the uad comps and some more but I don't have enough experience to really find which one brings the most clarity to a vocal.

I tend to think the manley variable mu brings the most clarity at the moment but I don't know, It might just be my imagination.

EDIT: This is also an open question to the world, if anyone reading this know any plugin really working well building clarity, just let me know, especially if its a compressor, thank you!
Old 3 days ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybille View Post
Thanks a lot, I love to try new plugins, specifically when they are trying to achieve clarity so I'll definitely check those.

Do you have any recommendation concerning the compressor?

I got so many, which compressor could be the best deal bringing clarity and punch/upfront sound for modern recordings you think ?

Like is there a specific compressor known to colour vocals in a crisp way ? I don't know maybe adding high harmonics or something.

I got all the uad comps and some more but I don't have enough experience to really find which one brings the most clarity to a vocal.

I tend to think the manley variable mu brings the most clarity at the moment but I don't know, It might just be my imagination.

EDIT: This is also an open question to the world, if anyone reading this know any plugin really working well building clarity, just let me know, especially if its a compressor, thank you!
EQ is typically what I use to bring clarity. Probably the first compressor that comes to mind that might bring it forward in the mix a bit , is easy to use , and not too CPU-hungry, is DMG's Compassion. You can start with the Mix Buss preset, enable the sidechain, lower the threshold and ratio and go from there. Personally , about the only two compressor plugins I use regularly are Weiss DS1-MK3 and Cytomic's The Glue, although I do like Tim P's "Vari-Level" program for Nebula also. I've also been know to use Waves' V Comp or PSP Old Timer ME. Each adds its own thing so you just have to try a few, experiment and see what you like. I would certainly suggest you spend some time auditioning with the Weiss (if you can afford the hefty price tag), and would give Compassion a try also. The peak compressor from Tokyo Dawn (I think the model is TK1 or something close to that) might get you want and is free.
Old 3 days ago
  #26
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I use Vertigo Vsc2 most as a comp. It goes on sale and is cool. I don't think of a comp doing what you want. Klanghelm SDRR has a bunch of options and you probably could get a great sound from it. MJUC has a clean mode. Trying to think of inexpensive options. TDR springs to mind. You can get a free one and they are excellent. Their eq's also! I don't use them since I already have other options, but Nova and all their products, are fantastic. A dream team of developers.

Honestly I think a dymanic eq like the new Hornet is a good inexpensive option. Maybe cutting instead of boosting, shouldn't be too difficult. Compression can also boost sibilence and then you cut highs to notch that out. Be careful you don't chase your tail too much. This should not be complicated or expensive!......
Old 3 days ago
  #27
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Sybille's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
When you state and restate what the vocal needs, it leads you to add what the vocal seems to lack. In this case you add top end and quickly get to “sizzly” and “metallic” as descriptors.
Instead of boosting highs, cut lows and add gain. If you have a very nice, gradual Bandaxall EQ, you can sometimes apply a deep but gradual cut curve that starts as high as 2 kHz. It leaves the highs with their natural un-EQd frequency balance, free of phase shift, and reduces the body of the vocal to taste.
The old “cut don’t boost” advice is still good advice.
Thanks for this tip, might seem like an idiot but what is bandaxall EQ?

That's all I found : BAX EQ - Dangerous Music

You're right for the cut/boost, I'm cutting way less than what I am boosting, I have to change this.
Old 3 days ago
  #28
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Sybille's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBaaron View Post
EQ is typically what I use to bring clarity. Probably the first compressor that comes to mind that might bring it forward in the mix a bit , is easy to use , and not too CPU-hungry, is DMG's Compassion. You can start with the Mix Buss preset, enable the sidechain, lower the threshold and ratio and go from there. Personally , about the only two compressor plugins I use regularly are Weiss DS1-MK3 and Cytomic's The Glue, although I do like Tim P's "Vari-Level" program for Nebula also. I've also been know to use Waves' V Comp or PSP Old Timer ME. Each adds its own thing so you just have to try a few, experiment and see what you like. I would certainly suggest you spend some time auditioning with the Weiss (if you can afford the hefty price tag), and would give Compassion a try also. The peak compressor from Tokyo Dawn (I think the model is TK1 or something close to that) might get you want and is free.
Great,thanks for the recommendations, I need to check all of those now, that's when you realise how time consuming producing good music is
Old 3 days ago
  #29
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Sybille's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
I use Vertigo Vsc2 most as a comp. It goes on sale and is cool. I don't think of a comp doing what you want. Klanghelm SDRR has a bunch of options and you probably could get a great sound from it. MJUC has a clean mode. Trying to think of inexpensive options. TDR springs to mind. You can get a free one and they are excellent. Their eq's also! I don't use them since I already have other options, but Nova and all their products, are fantastic. A dream team of developers.

Honestly I think a dymanic eq like the new Hornet is a good inexpensive option. Maybe cutting instead of boosting, shouldn't be too difficult. Compression can also boost sibilence and then you cut highs to notch that out. Be careful you don't chase your tail too much. This should not be complicated or expensive!......
Thanks for your help, I'm gonna demo all your recommendations and see if I can find a flavour that is crisp and clear to my ears.
Old 3 days ago
  #30
Lives for gear
As explained in the manual for the Dangerous BAX that you posted, Bandaxall EQ are the very broad, smooth boost/cut shelves that were the “tone controls” on old stereos. Because they are so smooth and gradual, they have less apparent phase shift and unwanted audio side effects that sharper, deeper EQ curves can cause. Also, because they are so gradual, the listener is less likely to notice an “elbow” or definite frequency below which the audio drops sharply away.
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