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therappereater 5th August 2019 03:44 AM

U87 Tracking - Compression on the way in
Just a hypothetical scenario. I’m new to outboard gear but I’m far from lost.

Say I’m tracking a U87 through a neve clone (1073/1272) and I have both an 1176 and LA-2A hardware compressors at my disposal.

First : Is there any difference in compressing the signal through both units before hitting the DAW and recording it straight to DAW and then sending it back out through the hardware and back into the DAW? If there is no difference than there is no reason someone learning like me shouldn’t just record straight to DAW first to ensure I have a clean file I didn’t potentially screw up by compressing on the way right?

Second: in order to get the type of coloration sought when recording through neve preamps how should I be driving the signal on the preamps as far as gain level and the output knobs are concerned and in a perfect world at what level should I be coming into the DAW at? And would this level be different if I chose to hit both comps on the way in?

Thanks so much in advance

elegentdrum 5th August 2019 03:52 AM

The cost is two conversions. If your conversion is good, then it will not matter.

The downside of compressing on the way in is that when you EQ, you are using that one a compressed signal. It sounds more natural to EQ before you compress. You gain more leverage over the signal by compressing first.

If you want to compress on the way in, sure, there is no problem with that. Just know what you are trading off. You gain color for commitment.

Compressing on the way in is a very common practice so that the color of the compressor is part of the track after your all in the box.

I personally believe you should EQ then compress than convert if you have the time to dial things in and know what you are doing. Have to have a great analog EQ for that.

The safe method is to capture everything direct from the preamp. Then you can play with the signal and dial it in when you are not trying to capture a performance.

Since you are asking. I suggest capturing things clean and bounce it later.

Level/Gain staging. This is about getting a decent level at the converters. I shoot for -20 to -10 range on the converters. Leaving 10+ for headroom all the time. If you want to run a preamp hot for it's sound, you may want some pads between the preamp and converters. Very common practice with hot API preamps. I have never used a real 1073, so I can't comment on that unit.

therappereater 5th August 2019 05:06 AM

Ok so compression on the way in, I’ve read that a good place to start is:

1176 with high ratio (10:1) fast attack fast release to catch the highest peaks for 5-6db GR


LA-2A lower ratio (4:1) slow attack medium release for general compression for another 3-4db GR

Is this accurate? If not, can you or someone correct me? I know these settings cannot be cookie cutter and are always subject to change but I am just looking for the general thought process.

Lastly, in both instances am I looking to do makeup gain for the dB I’m reducing through the compression?


BIG BUDDHA 5th August 2019 08:47 AM

ok. no absolute rules, but generally for vocals and an 1176 to tape you Should be on the 4 /1 setting.

i find a slow/meduim attack and a fast release works well. remember slow/medium attack on an 1176 is actually pretty fast.

10/1 is too high for general vocal tracking. you do want to retain some dynamics in the performance.

when pro guys track through an 1176 its usually 4 to 1 to tape, and 4 to 1 off tape (mixing into the console)
so you get 2 goes at it. personally i have never gone higher ratios than that.

yes make up gain is normal, and the process of compression plus make up gain results in higher RMS levels, so your recorded signal will be louder and more even in volume than uncompressed signal.

if you look at the DAW waveforms you will see it easily with your eyes if yo do an A/B

hope that helps. Buddha