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Tracking vocal with or without compression? Single-Channel Preamps
Old 30th July 2014
  #31
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sambo View Post

Mic technique isn't working im like 3 feet away from the mic on the rock screams for it not to clip!

Some opinions on this would be really appreciated thanks
There will always be some situations where a specific piece of hardware is usefully inserted in the signal chain prior to capture/record. A rule of thumb is that the general case is that the shorter the signal chain is prior to record/capture is more flexible, functional then piling on things that can not be undone later.

(& for the record this general case matches no specific real world situations otherwise we would not need microphones, for example)

But it should be necessary with any variation on minimally functional gear that if you are standing 3 feet from the mic that you have to have a hardware compressor/limiter prior to capture.

Again very generally a compressor is used to quash dynamics: the range of high to low is so extreme that when the loudest parts barely do not clip the quietest parts are not sufficiently above the noise floor to be functionally useful. If this describes your experience then a compressor is 'a' tool for which to reach.

Very generally speaking dynamics in the program are a significant component in sustaining audience interest . . . anything that prior to recording (that thus can not be undone) that limits the dynamics reduces edit/mix options in ways that can be problematic long term . . . become a compromise which in turn demands other compromises further truncating options.

Typically, prior to quashing dynamics one engages the pad, on mix or desk . . . an an out board attenuator (while never 'cheap') is another, different then compressor, useful option. 'limiting' as means of simply 'clipping' in a 'musical' way might be functional as well. Which option, among evolving different mic technique, placement, pad, attenuation, limiter, compressor that works for one is dependent on specifics of content, room and other gear in the signal chain. And might (will) be specific to a specific session.

Might also try a different mic . . . there is a reason why something like the Shure SM7 has the reputation it does and it's not because it is an absolute substitute for a U67 . . . it is a mic that is well suited, perhaps, to the kind of situation you describe . . . get lips on grill at quite part of content, step back 3 feet when screaming! (one can do that as well with a U67 . . . but I'll have to admit that the few times in the last decade I've used a U67 that I was uncomfortable having vocalist scream at it)
Old 30th July 2014
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by theOnlyMoment View Post
I know you already purchased your compressor but for anyone else who's reading, IMHO money is better spent on good mics and preamps. The bang for buck you get from good mics and pres go beyond any other part of your chain. For myself having a compressor for tracking is beneficial because it'll affect the way the musician performs. If the singer is singing through compression he/she will be able to "dig in" more for louder sections and let their voice sit in the pocket a bit better. The same with drummers, if you have compression going on the snare or kick, the drummer will play differently because of the different dynamics you're playing.
doing that with drums is in my opinion dangerous and your assumption is flawed, do you really think you can get the drums loud enough in the cans over the drummers playing to where they're hearing the compression? I seriously doubt it.
Although I will compress most things on the way in drums in my opinion are better left to the mix. or on the returns
Old 30th July 2014
  #33
Here for the gear
 

If you hook your outboard gear up, in your signal chain and can get a great tone out of it, then yeah go for it. This works when you're confident, know the gear well and know the sound you're going for. I feel like if you're not as confident in what you're trying to do, that you're better off recording the signal dry and then using that outboard gear later to print a new track, with the compressor on it. The thing is, if you record something dry, you can always add to it, but if you record something with any sort of effect in the signal chain, it's not like you can really go back and change it, unless you decide to re-record it.

Tl;DR: if you're confident in what you're doing and know the tone you want, go for it. If not, record dry and use the gear afterwards. I'd rather have a dry signal I could mess with.
Old 30th July 2014
  #34
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
doing that with drums is in my opinion dangerous and your assumption is flawed, do you really think you can get the drums loud enough in the cans over the drummers playing to where they're hearing the compression? I seriously doubt it.
Although I will compress most things on the way in drums in my opinion are better left to the mix. or on the returns
Why is it dangerous? Decibel levels or printing compression to tape?

Maybe a placebo effect but I've never met a drummer that didn't prefer the slightly compressed sound of his/her kick to an uncompressed kick while tracking. They always make a compliment/comment about it (i.e. "the kick sounds really tight")

Your credits show that you have much more experience than I have in recording so I'm leaning towards agreeing with you but I just finished a drum tracking session yesterday where we did exactly this. I always push for giving drummers as much of their drums in their headphones as possible so they can "mix" themselves. This really helps with cymbal heavy drummers. It obviously depends on the headphones that the drummer uses as well. In ear monitors with shooting range styled ear muffs block a considerable amount of mids and highs.

Here's a caveat, I'm definitely compressing a lot less on the way in then I would in the mix. For example if a kick drum for a song called for 8-10db of GR then I'd shoot for 2-3db. From experience I've much preferred compressing in stages over 1 single compressor.
Old 31st July 2014
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by theOnlyMoment View Post
Why is it dangerous? Decibel levels or printing compression to tape?

Maybe a placebo effect but I've never met a drummer that didn't prefer the slightly compressed sound of his/her kick to an uncompressed kick while tracking. They always make a compliment/comment about it (i.e. "the kick sounds really tight")

Your credits show that you have much more experience than I have in recording so I'm leaning towards agreeing with you but I just finished a drum tracking session yesterday where we did exactly this. I always push for giving drummers as much of their drums in their headphones as possible so they can "mix" themselves. This really helps with cymbal heavy drummers. It obviously depends on the headphones that the drummer uses as well. In ear monitors with shooting range styled ear muffs block a considerable amount of mids and highs.

Here's a caveat, I'm definitely compressing a lot less on the way in then I would in the mix. For example if a kick drum for a song called for 8-10db of GR then I'd shoot for 2-3db. From experience I've much preferred compressing in stages over 1 single compressor.
tracking drums with compression is risky because you can set them one way and then the drummer gives you a whole new level to record and now those compressors you set lightly are now smashing. And realistically it's hard to know how much compression you'll need in the mix. Also as I said before the drummer is hearing more of his kit leaking into the phones than what you're sending him unless you're trying to melt his brain.So the likelihood of him hearing the compression is very small. Sometimes I'll send the hat back in the que to a hi hat bashing drummer but really that's it. I do agree with compressing in stages especially with vocals, but I find with drums it's less of an issue. If the drummer is inconsistent, then compression isn't going to do anything for it anyway, you might need to retrigger and compression will make it more difficult to get a good retrigger. The other thing is it's got to take you a lot longer to dial in a sound patching in a bunch of compressors, and thats that much longer you're beating up the drummer. I just don't think the trade off is worth it.
Old 31st July 2014
  #36
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
tracking drums with compression is risky because you can set them one way and then the drummer gives you a whole new level to record and now those compressors you set lightly are now smashing. And realistically it's hard to know how much compression you'll need in the mix. Also as I said before the drummer is hearing more of his kit leaking into the phones than what you're sending him unless you're trying to melt his brain.So the likelihood of him hearing the compression is very small. Sometimes I'll send the hat back in the que to a hi hat bashing drummer but really that's it. I do agree with compressing in stages especially with vocals, but I find with drums it's less of an issue. If the drummer is inconsistent, then compression isn't going to do anything for it anyway, you might need to retrigger and compression will make it more difficult to get a good retrigger. The other thing is it's got to take you a lot longer to dial in a sound patching in a bunch of compressors, and thats that much longer you're beating up the drummer. I just don't think the trade off is worth it.
I think we can agree to disagree. I don't think there's any negative to save compression for the mix stage but my personal style is to process kicks and snares to make them sound more like the final product on the way in. Perhaps it's because you've recorded more drummers that didn't have as much control than I have and in a few years I'll change my mind about this as well.
Old 31st July 2014
  #37
Quote:
Originally Posted by theOnlyMoment View Post
I think we can agree to disagree. I don't think there's any negative to save compression for the mix stage but my personal style is to process kicks and snares to make them sound more like the final product on the way in. Perhaps it's because you've recorded more drummers that didn't have as much control than I have and in a few years I'll change my mind about this as well.
first off, a huge part of the sound of the kit is in the OVERHEADS and if you're doing rock, the room mics. So if your thinking your getting your sound from the close mic's unless you're making a retro record with the drums bone dry I'd question that. As far as the drummers I've recorded lets just say I've probably recorded more drummers than you, but I get to work with some amazing players, especially on the projects I produce so I kinda doubt you have more control than say someone like Lionel Cordew.
Old 1st August 2014
  #38
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
first off, a huge part of the sound of the kit is in the OVERHEADS and if you're doing rock, the room mics. So if your thinking your getting your sound from the close mic's unless you're making a retro record with the drums bone dry I'd question that. As far as the drummers I've recorded lets just say I've probably recorded more drummers than you, but I get to work with some amazing players, especially on the projects I produce so I kinda doubt you have more control than say someone like Lionel Cordew.
I absolutely agree with you on everything here. I never use more than 6-7 mics for drums and my typical setup is 4 (2 OH, 1 kick, 1 room). That being said, I still think compressing slightly on the way in is not a bad practice.

Wouldn't you agree a player like Lionel Cordew would play his kick or snare dynamically consistent and not be all over the place (except for artistic reasons)? That was my point, I'm not using compression to even out a poor player, instead I'm using it lightly to enhance the sound of the drum for the benefit of the player. With a good drummer I wouldn't worry about him/her all playing worse due to light compression.
Old 1st August 2014
  #39
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
The other thing is it's got to take you a lot longer to dial in a sound patching in a bunch of compressors, and thats that much longer you're beating up the drummer. I just don't think the trade off is worth it.
As far as this goes, this wouldn't ever be a problem. It's always defaulted to 1 distressor on kick, 1 distressor on snare. And settings are made in less than a minute for both.
Old 1st August 2014
  #40
Quote:
Originally Posted by theOnlyMoment View Post
I absolutely agree with you on everything here. I never use more than 6-7 mics for drums and my typical setup is 4 (2 OH, 1 kick, 1 room). That being said, I still think compressing slightly on the way in is not a bad practice.

Wouldn't you agree a player like Lionel Cordew would play his kick or snare dynamically consistent and not be all over the place (except for artistic reasons)? That was my point, I'm not using compression to even out a poor player, instead I'm using it lightly to enhance the sound of the drum for the benefit of the player. With a good drummer I wouldn't worry about him/her all playing worse due to light compression.
During a take yes he is consistent, but I've seen Lionel dig in harder or softer from one take to the other as he get's more excited or more sensitive depending on the music. Another area where we differ is, I use anywhere between 15-18 mics on a kit. I mix on an analog console, and I have 40 channels of outboard compressors so I just patch them in on the return channel inserts. You're right that 2 compressors aren't going to take a lot of time set. It may be fine for you, it sounds like your the drummer also so once you have a setup it may be ok, I just wouldn't advise anyone else to do it. There's this other drummer I recorded named Scooter Warner who plays with Cindy Lauper, when he was getting sounds he was slamming the drums then we cut a track with brushes, I had to totally re-level, imagine if I was resetting a bunch of compressors too. For me unlike a vocal where I think a little on the way in is an absolute necessity compression on the kit isn't
Old 1st August 2014
  #41
Gear Nut
IMO, depends on how dynamic the singer is. my gut says a soft opto coming in
Old 1st August 2014
  #42
Gear Guru
 

know your singer

some people are more enthusiastic hearing some compression on their voice as they sing, and you will get a better performance out of them.
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