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Distressor for tracking vocals??
Old 3rd May 2003
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Question Distressor for tracking vocals??

Hello Dave,

I'm not yet an "owner" of a Distressor, due mostly to not having a local dealer anywhere near Sarasota, FL or one that would even stock one.

I've read up on all the applications possible with a Distressor(or two) when mixing but how about tracking? Anyone using it as part of a vocal chain?

By the way, I've come to Florida via Cranford, NJ. I still miss the food.(it's been 10 years!!).

Thanks!
Old 4th May 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Saucyjack's Avatar
 

I'm not Dave but I'll chime in...BTW Hi Dave

I use the Distressor quite a bit to track vocals usually in the "Opto" setting but sometimes 2:1 or 3:1...flavor to taste.I've read some people don't like the Distressor as a vocal comp but
like anything else when it works it works.
Old 4th May 2003
  #3
Gear maniac
 
Sir Bob's Avatar
 

Dear Armando,

I live in LA and there are very few if any places you can walk into and buy pro equipment. The Banjo Center is not one of them.

I buy my pro stuff over the phone or on line. Buying out of state saves me at least 8 plus percent in sales tax. Sure I have to spend a little bit for shipping but it doesn't come close to the sales tax.

Try Mercenary. They are friendlier than you would think.heh And Atlas Pro Audio is a good recommendation as well. Nathan is very responsive to your questions.

There is not much room for negotiation unlike the Banjo Center.

I would say get yourself a pro mic preamp before a Distressor. You can handle most of your basic compression with a $200 compressor. I am not knocking the Distressor.
Old 4th May 2003
  #4
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Actually, about a year ago, I was passing through Boston, MA and happened to drop into their "banjo center". To my dismay, their "pro audio" room was stocked with the very stuff gearslutz is all about. They had Manley, Sony, etc...The salesguy did comment that this was pretty unique for banjo ctr.

We do have a few of the Pro Audio "business center" shops in the state. But they usually don't have a facility to try before you buy.

There's even a guy down here(shall remain nameless) who only takes cash!
Old 4th May 2003
  #5
jho
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jho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Armando
Actually, about a year ago, I was passing through Boston, MA and happened to drop into their "banjo center". To my dismay, their "pro audio" room was stocked with the very stuff gearslutz is all about. They had Manley, Sony, etc...The salesguy did comment that this was pretty unique for banjo ctr.

We do have a few of the Pro Audio "business center" shops in the state. But they usually don't have a facility to try before you buy.

There's even a guy down here(shall remain nameless) who only takes cash!

In Boston that's probably PK Pandy with GC Pro. They have killer deals on pro stuff. I have bought Dynaudio, Cranesong, Soundelux , etc from PK at the best prices in the country. You can reach him at pk@amsaudio.com
Old 4th May 2003
  #6
Gear maniac
 

I use one for vocals with great results.
Usually at 4:1 for tracking. The first time that I tried it , I needed it for the HP filter since neither the prefered mic or pre had one. Now the only time I don't use it is if I use an opto/tube limiter. heh
Old 4th May 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Mad John's Avatar
 

I have just finished a Garage album of mainly 60s cover music from "Gloria" , to "900 Million People Daily, All Makeing Love" (The Seeds) with 18 different groups!

I had the chance to Really try the Distressor on vocals and in some cases we really kicked it and sent Robbie Rouses vocals (from The Things) into overdrive.

On several occasions I was able to get some grit and real attitude with the Distressors on the vocals!

The Distressor will also be a big part of this 2 CD 40 song opus!

The name of the album is "Purple Iron Hat" and Dave, when it is finished I would be happy to give you a copy!

I will say this: The Distressor has to be used with a little imagination and the trick is to not over compress anything.
Old 5th May 2003
  #8
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Dang! Hiya Brian Eno. Long time no speak. Think the last time was in 92 about some H3000 issue while I was still at Eventide. Gil Griffith would be saying HI if he were here at the moment... along with Richard Factor. Those were great days!

Honestly, I think there are a zillion compressors that are fine to track vocals with just to control levels, and get something down on tape or hard disk. Just to answer the recurring question, yes the Distressor has been used on major artists voice, from Luciano Pavoratti, to Mark Anthony (via Mick Gazauski - one of my favorite mixers!), to Nine Inch Nails, to Rolling Stones, to Peter Gabriel... and Im not gonna go on and on...

That being said, Id place money that people have used the DBX160X on thousands of famous vocal recordings too...and that box is around $300! (Another incredible creation of David Blackmer?)

Pretty much anyone will tell you its not the equipment, but the guy who uses the equipment.

Its not the airplane, Its the pilot. Its not the paintbrush... Its the artist. Its not the wrench, its the mechanic. Its not the spoon rest... its the chef... well... ok... lets forget that last one (laughing).

Dave
PS: As an added touch of reality, when I get time, Im going to tell you about a relatively new "famous" group who almost ruined their record by the overuse of NUKE from the Distressor. Maybe someone closer to the project would do it for me...???
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Old 5th May 2003
  #9
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr

PS: As an added touch of reality, when I get time, Im going to tell you about a relatively new "famous" group who almost ruined their record by the overuse of NUKE from the Distressor. Maybe someone closer to the project would do it for me...???
I'd love to know which record it is. I have my thoughts but I won't say who I think it is until it's either confirmed or denied.

Personally, it's kind of rare that I can get a Distressor to work for me on a vocal. It always seems to grab it wrong and pump or do other strange things. Maybe it's just me, but it's happened lots of times. Though, it was a lifesaver at one point. The midband detector is great and kinda saved me from ripping my hair out on one project.
Old 5th May 2003
  #10
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

A guaranteed Distressor Vocal Setting:

I have used this setting 11,253 times (lol) and never had a pump or anything nasty happen.

Ratio 6:1, Attack on 6, release 3 - 5. Don't over do it by letting the compressor work all the time. Six dB of gain reduction should be totally invisible.

Dont use any additional sidechain or distortion modes. An exception is if someone is POPPING the mic on P's etc... then you have to take action and either move the mic, add a popscreen, or try the DET HP on the Distressor. (I recommend one of the first two).

But that being said, up to 14 dB on extreme peaks during tracking is usally jusssssssst fine! A person with good vocal technique would probably never come close to this. Lower ratios on the Distressor should be even more subtle.

The 10:1 can be fine due to its long release, however... like the LA2A, if you are using a lot of compression, the first word of a line can sometimes JUMP at you in an unnatural way.

Let me know if anyone ever has a problem with this 6:1 setting!
Old 5th May 2003
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Tim L's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by groove guru
I use one for vocals with great results.
Usually at 4:1 for tracking...
Ditto, but 4:1 is usually the highest I'll print at. For me 2:1 is usually what I end up tracking at but when it comes to mixdown, 'Opto' with a touch of 'Dist' can be the ****!


Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
Ratio 6:1, Attack on 6, release 3 - 5. Don't over do it by letting the compressor work all the time. Six dB of gain reduction should be totally invisible.
Cool... Dave, do you like to print this way or is this setting something you like to use at the mix stage?
Old 5th May 2003
  #12
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

I will track (print) that way (with the 6:1 compression setting) a lot!

Remember that I do (did) mostly Rock stuff with a dash of RnB/Rap. I probably wouldnt use so much compression on a classical or even Jazz recording... although... i think OVER COMPRESSION is almost a friggin rule these days.

My lord when I listen to something like Red Hot Chili Peppers or really any modern rock recording, I guarantee Im hearing 20 - 30 dB of gain reduction or more, by the time the record goes from tracking to finished mix. Erasing (or gating) breaths is an absolute necessity on present recordings, theres so much compression on them.

(All the pros out there are going "Yeah?, AND YOUR POINT IS..?") (Laughing!)

Extreme amounts of compression on voices is just the way modern recordings are made these days.

Two things to remember about setting attack and decay times:

1) Really fast attacks are apt to make the vocal sound more squashed (unnaturally compressed). That being said, the 1176 which is one of the most used vocal compressors, attacks under 1 mS!

2) Really slow release times are also apt to make the vocal sound more squashed. This is because the peaks will be grabbed and the part right after those peaks will be "sucked out" since the release hasnt let it come back to a normal level yet

SIMPLY (and conversely) PUT: Slower attacks and faster releases will generally sound less compressed on most compressors. There are exceptions, SO LETS HEAR THEM!
Old 5th May 2003
  #13
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Tim L's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
... Extreme amounts of compression on voices is just the way modern recordings are made these days.
You're absolutely right of course, I'm 'just-a-scared' to comp too heavily during tracking (I guess I don't trust myself as much as I should) and usually hit the vox much harder during the mix. I'll certainly be giving your 6:1 setup a shot, thanks for sharing it.
Old 5th May 2003
  #14
jho
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jho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
There are exceptions, SO LETS HEAR THEM!
Here's jho's odd distressor setting for vocals:

(muting or gain reducing breaths mandatory here! )

10:1, HP det, in 6, attack 2.5, release 3.6, out 7.

Believe it or not has worked wonders for me with a certain strong female vocalist.

I read somewhere the thread on Jewel's vocal chain with two compressors, so I'm not afraid to crush them if it sounds good. But that is the key, I will go anywhere from 4:1 to 10:1 depending on the vocalist and their style. I prefer to print what sounds good so I can move on and not get hung up on the minutia.
Old 6th May 2003
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I'll print vocals with 12:1 compression or chain a few compressors together if I have to. The only rule of thumb I have is that the higher the ratio is, the less reduction I use. Still, for some reason I can't get the Distressor to work right for me most of the time. I've heard other people use it and I love it but I just can't seem to get the knobs into the right place. I'll give it another shot next time I rent one.
Old 6th May 2003
  #16
jho
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jho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I'll print vocals with 12:1 compression or chain a few compressors together if I have to. The only rule of thumb I have is that the higher the ratio is, the less reduction I use. Still, for some reason I can't get the Distressor to work right for me most of the time. I've heard other people use it and I love it but I just can't seem to get the knobs into the right place. I'll give it another shot next time I rent one.
There certainly are alot of variation possibilities with it!
Old 6th May 2003
  #17
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Tim L's Avatar
 

Chaining comp's in series works well also but I'll usually set the second one up to lop off whatever peaks sneak passed compression before printing... ie, not as another compressor (below 10:1) but rather as a limiter. A db or two of reduction at the most, high ratio's, fast attack and release. I also try and stick to less reduction with the higher ratios, most particularly before printing.
Old 6th May 2003
  #18
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Kris's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I'll print vocals with 12:1 compression or chain a few compressors together if I have to. The only rule of thumb I have is that the higher the ratio is, the less reduction I use. Still, for some reason I can't get the Distressor to work right for me most of the time. I've heard other people use it and I love it but I just can't seem to get the knobs into the right place. I'll give it another shot next time I rent one.
You should definately give it another shot... the thing is extremely diverse... just tweak the knobs... you can get lots of tonal and textural variety from this box... I find it really really hard to make it sound 'bad' on anything... maybe I'm just lucky but I highly doubt it... maybe you should check out the manual and start out with the suggested presets... for starters...
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