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Recording with compression in
Old 2nd October 2018
  #1
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Recording with compression in

So basically I’ve always just recorded raw hip hop vocals with no compression and compressed my vocals using plugins after in the mix. I’ve been told that I should be using compression on the way in. I recently upgraded my vocal chain and I’ve got U87ai and Avalon 737 however I’m unsure what settings I should be using on my Avalon. Should I still be compressing my vocals with plugins after my vocals already have compression on them, I know everyone’s different but I need a rough guildline on what I should be doing. Thank you
Old 2nd October 2018
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santw_96 View Post
...I’ve been told that I should be using compression on the way in...
That's only an opinion. Many people record compression while tracking, many people don't. There are several reasons for either approach. Generally speaking, you might want to avoid doing it until you know the differences. Until then, just keep in mind that if you over-compress while tracking, it will be printed and can't be undone.

TONS of info on this question if you do a search.
Old 2nd October 2018
  #3
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Sigma's Avatar
track with the compressor and without by dbl bussing your mic output..until you know what you are doing..start with 10:1 with 3db of compression with a .3 ms attack and a longish release
Old 2nd October 2018
  #4
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
track with the compressor and without by dbl bussing your mic output..until you know what you are doing..start with 10:1 with 3db of compression with a .3 ms attack and a longish release
Mike, do you mean 3 or 0.3 ms attack?
Old 2nd October 2018
  #5
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Sigma's Avatar
sorry 3 ms
Old 2nd October 2018
  #6
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
sorry 3 ms
Oh, thanks, that sounds reassuring I am not completely deaf since I am using 6 msec on my raps on kjaerhus compressor vst and 0.3 from the memory seems to be too fast and smashing on vocals in digital and analogue.
I wonder why the OP does not want to real-time tweak and listen until he gets the idea. Gotta Ferrari but no clue how to shift manually, it seems.
Old 3rd October 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Gotta Ferrari but no clue how to shift manually, it seems.
A couple of times around the block and he'll be power shifting.

I like those @ Sigma approved settings as well.....maybe a little faster release for my kind of stuff.

Compress on the way in if it helps you get the sound and feel that you want in the performance. Experiment with it.

A little on the way in....a little more in the mix may be better than compressing all at once, right?
Old 3rd October 2018
  #8
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I monitor with compression but record without, just keep enough headroom.
Old 4th October 2018
  #9
Quote:
’ve been told that I should be using compression on the way in.
You were told wrong. In 24bit recording, there is no need to compress the signal in the recording stage. Because the optimal peak dB levels for the best recorded vocals/instruments is anywhere between -24dB and -10dB. This leaves so much room for an occasional peak.
So, no need to compress on the way in as you have 256 more times the resolution than you did in 16bit recording.

Why limit yourself and do destructive editing to something that is not needed? Once you compress on the way in, you canNOT change those compressor settings.
Old 4th October 2018
  #10
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I can't think of many 'good' reasons to track with compression other than to control wild variances in gains. I often compress whilst tracking rap vocals if the rapper doesn't have great mic technique and we are working in 16 bit. Other than that I prefer any form of dynamic processing to take place in the DAW and at 24 bit we really don't need to worry too much about wide dynamic variances.
Old 7th October 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
You were told wrong. In 24bit recording, there is no need to compress the signal in the recording stage. Because the optimal peak dB levels for the best recorded vocals/instruments is anywhere between -24dB and -10dB. This leaves so much room for an occasional peak.
So, no need to compress on the way in as you have 256 more times the resolution than you did in 16bit recording.

Why limit yourself and do destructive editing to something that is not needed? Once you compress on the way in, you canNOT change those compressor settings.
i get the digital theory lesson, but i disagree with the conclusion.

good analog compression to tape, has been used in countless tens of thousands of recording sessions, from the 6os till now.

pro engineers do it every day.

Buddha
Old 7th October 2018
  #12
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i like my signals to be pretty much finished when they are hitting the tape so of course i'm using compressors (and/or eqs) on the way in - if i'm dealing with a very dynamic singer, bass, kick, snare, horns etc. a bit less often when recording digital and then there is still the option of splitting a signal before going into a compressor...
Old 7th October 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i get the digital theory lesson, but i disagree with the conclusion.

good analog compression to tape, has been used in countless tens of thousands of recording sessions, from the 6os till now.

pro engineers do it every day.

Buddha
You're talking about analog to tape, he is talking about analog to digital. I don't understand your objection.
Old 8th October 2018
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i get the digital theory lesson, but i disagree with the conclusion.

good analog compression to tape, has been used in countless tens of thousands of recording sessions, from the 6os till now.

pro engineers do it every day.

Buddha
Ummm, analog has nothing to do with digital recording In 24bit. Digital and analog recording are two completely different things.

If you read, we’re talking about digital recording not analog recording.

So you’re disagreeing with something I never never never never said, LOL
Old 8th October 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
You're talking about analog to tape, he is talking about analog to digital. I don't understand your objection.
hi matti,

the original post asked if he should be using compression on the way in.

he also states he has an Avalon 737 which is an analog hardware compressor.

i think thats a great idea, and pointed out that engineers have been doing exactly that for countless years.

compression to tape, is a term that refers to signal processing applied to the input signal, that goes to the recording medium.

the recording medium can be DAW. analog 2 inch, or a hard disk recorder.

someone else started talking about 24 bitt/16 bitt, and internal signal processing and digital compression, which was not what the original question was about.

Buddha
Old 8th October 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
compression to tape, is a term that refers to signal processing applied to the input signal, that goes to the recording medium.

the recording medium can be DAW. analog 2 inch, or a hard disk recorder.
Recording to tape is recording to tape, not to a computer's drive. Compression to tape is the same I bet for pretty much any engineer out there. Perhaps you use the term "tape" differently in New Zeeland, but it seems completely counterproductive to use that word when referring to not tape.
Old 8th October 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
the original post asked if he should be using compression on the way in.

he also states he has an Avalon 737 which is an analog hardware compressor.

i think thats a great idea...
When recording analog, yes.
If recording digital (in 24 bit) not necessary.
Old 8th October 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
When recording analog, yes.
If recording digital (in 24 bit) not necessary.
Not necessary from a dynamics perspective, but still very common and preferred for tone shaping and capturing the sound/performance of a given hardware piece.

Also, I definitely took BIG BUDDHA's expression "compression to tape" as a general/slang term for committing to any recording medium. I didn't think he literally meant tape only, but yeah that could be confusing if you've never heard or said it that way.
Old 8th October 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santw_96 View Post
So basically I’ve always just recorded raw hip hop vocals with no compression and compressed my vocals using plugins after in the mix. I’ve been told that I should be using compression on the way in. I recently upgraded my vocal chain and I’ve got U87ai and Avalon 737 however I’m unsure what settings I should be using on my Avalon. Should I still be compressing my vocals with plugins after my vocals already have compression on them, I know everyone’s different but I need a rough guildline on what I should be doing. Thank you

I'm going to try and keep this short. I have recorded many rap songs over the years. Probably more than anything else. I find that if you can hear the compression on the way in with rap vocals then its too much. You have a good mic and a good preamp in the avalon. The avalon has an opto compressor which is hard to mess up but also easy to hear. Rap vocals vary widely in many ways. My advice... spend a day recording just for fun and trying all different settings. Try to find what makes your life easier without introducing anything negative. Don't focus on using the compression to make the vocals sound better. I find that fast attack, medium ratio, and medium release with the threshold set a few DB's above the average peak volume is effective. This way it acts more like a safety net than dynamic range control. Whether or not you should use compression on the way in is a matter of opinion or preference. I would take a good preamp over a compressor any day. If compression makes your workflow more difficult than its worth then you shouldn't use it. That's how I look at it when it comes to dynamic vocal performances. I use it to do some transparent volume control while tracking but rarely use it to try and change the sound of vocals on the way in. Dynamic vocals make it easy to distort the loud phrases when compressing and this can easily ruin a great performance. Just my thoughts. In my opinion you need to find what you prefer rather than what we think. If you have been tracking with no compression all along and are happy with your results then there is no need to change that. And whether or not you compress on the way in as well as with plugins all depends on how much compression you do on the way in. If you only do a few DB on the way in then you probably will need more in the mix but if you record the take and every word is clear and there are no volume spikes then no need to use a plugin too. I'm sure you will figure it out. You deciding what you like while tracking is worth more than anything we can tell you.
Old 9th October 2018
  #20
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Recording to tape is recording to tape, not to a computer's drive. Compression to tape is the same I bet for pretty much any engineer out there. Perhaps you use the term "tape" differently in New Zeeland, but it seems completely counterproductive to use that word when referring to not tape.
well in the early days tape was analog.

then the mitsubishi 32 track digital tapes came along.

mitsubishi X800, and the Mitsubishi X850 and 880.

we used to drop the 2 inch tape, onto the digital 32 track tape, when mixing if we needed more than 24 tracks

then Adat arrived and again we had digital tapes. we often applied compression to the sounds recorded on those Adat tapes, so again compression to tape.

following that there were lots of other digital tape formats. tascam etc...

if you were compression to any of those listed digital options you were compressing to tape.

to me the term compression to tape means compression applied at input that gets committed to the recording medium. what ever that medium is. analog, digital tape, Hard disk or DAW

so if I'm recording with compression into my DAW (which i always do) then i would say I'm compressing to tape. even if the tape is a DAW.

i guess its just words and semantics.

hope i haven't upset anyone. Buddha
Old 9th October 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bender412 View Post

Also, I definitely took BIG BUDDHA's expression "compression to tape" as a general/slang term for committing to any recording medium. I didn't think he literally meant tape only, but yeah that could be confusing if you've never heard or said it that way.
yes Bender, you figured it out. well done.

and its not a slang term, its hi end engineering speak.

if you were engineering a session, and you asked the producer Are we committing to tape and he said yeah, then we would all know what he was talking about. processes that are permanent.

i guess the younger generation might not have heard it expressed that way, but honestly in pro studios, thats the way its expressed.

if you are committing the compression /Eq in the analog domain, and it can't be undone, and is permanent, then you are compressing/EQing to tape, whatever the tape machine is.

pro tools, DAW, analog, whatever

enough said. Buddha
Old 9th October 2018
  #22
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Sometimes I like to record my voice through a UA6176 with the comp set to all buttons in mode. I know some consider that risky, but I like the way it sounds. Of course I also record with a Slate VMS orU87 straight through the preamp (either VMSOne or ISA One) and I love the way that sounds. I figured this out through experimentation. So, maybe you should try that. Experiment. Then you'll know enough to ask better questions.
Old 9th October 2018
  #23
Gear Guru
Why on earth would someone compress to a tape recorder and not to digital? The whole point to adding anything to the recording chain is to interact with it rather than slapping it on in the mix. Sure you can put it on a monitor feed, but why not record the way you want to hear it? I get being able to not have an effect baked in, but personally I like recording my vocals with a comp, lightly in. I would also think that since tape compresses a bit naturally you might not want to compress.....

Funny when you can change your mind a gazillion times in post (even to the mic and pre). Not sure if is really a good thing unless you really don't have a sound you're looking for. BTW a major part of my choosing a comp going in is because that's the only way I can get a hardware comp on sources...... Love the sound of my FMR PBC6a on pretty much everything, goosing slightly........Obviously a personal preference FWIW.....Not affecting on the way in is always the safest.....
Old 9th October 2018
  #24
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To tape because, the dynamic range of tape (analog) is limited so you might, depending on the dynamics of the source, want to limit your signal to make full use of it.
Not to digital because, there's no need technically and so you can keep all options open for later.
But sure you could also mix to stereo and record that straightaway if you know exactly what sound you're looking for and confident enough about it.

Guess it's just that, a personal preference or what you used to be doing, but with digital there is no NEED to compress on in when recording.

Btw you can get hardware comp on (recorded) sources later to.
Old 9th October 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
...Btw you can get hardware comp on (recorded) sources later to.
True, but can be a hassle if you have a lot of tracks and only 1 or 2 "money" compressors. Not to mention the extra conversion round trips (if DAW). Obviously each method has it's upsides and downsides.
Old 10th October 2018
  #26
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the best reason to record WITH a compressor is how an artist responds to that sound in the cans.

If an artist bangs on the cans- hears playback - sings that opening line - they instantly get that mental feedback of "this sounds like a record"

but to do it well you need years of experience - so I suggest do both methods.
practise with both and you will then learn when is correct for each technique
Old 10th October 2018
  #27
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I still think it best to record 'clean' with no effects. You can add any effect afterwards, and still come back to the initial clean one. If you record with compression, you cannot remove or alter this effected track as much.
Old 10th October 2018
  #28
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Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
the best reason to record WITH a compressor is how an artist responds to that sound in the cans.

If an artist bangs on the cans- hears playback - sings that opening line - they instantly get that mental feedback of "this sounds like a record"
The monitored (sound in the cans) signal can be different from the recorded one.
I agree that the sound the artist is hearing is more pleasant with compression (and reverb for that matter) but that doesn't mean that the recorded signal needs to be that same signal.
Old 10th October 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
To tape because, the dynamic range of tape (analog) is limited so you might, depending on the dynamics of the source, want to limit your signal to make full use of it.
Not to digital because, there's no need technically and so you can keep all options open for later.
But sure you could also mix to stereo and record that straightaway if you know exactly what sound you're looking for and confident enough about it.

Guess it's just that, a personal preference or what you used to be doing, but with digital there is no NEED to compress on in when recording.

Btw you can get hardware comp on (recorded) sources later to.
The dynamic range, in so far as being able to make use of it, isn't much of a consideration for me. I choose to compress to tape more aggressively as opposed to digital because when you compress the noise floor comes up with the make up gain, so compressing a signal back from tape will increase the hiss/background noise, which isn't really a consideration with a DAW.

I also like the process of committing, often the decisions made when the performance is happening are good, and we shouldn't be afraid to print them.

Last edited by crosscutred; 10th October 2018 at 11:41 AM..
Old 10th October 2018
  #30
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what kind of room are recording in???!?...maybe you shouldn't be using compression coming in. especially since you are asking what kind of settings to use leads me to believe that you have no idea what compression is or what you are trying to accomplish with it.
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