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Does anyone not use a compressor while recording? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 7th May 2018
  #1
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Does anyone not use a compressor while recording?

I haven't been using a compressor for years and it seems to work fine. But everyone is saying you should use a compressor while tracking. How important is a compressor and also does high end vs low end matter if you're just going to be lightly compressing your vocals? Could adding a cheap compressor to your (pretty good) vocal chain mess up the quality of the recording?
Old 7th May 2018
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
everyone
everyone == sheep

Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
Could adding a cheap compressor to your (pretty good) vocal chain mess up the quality of the recording?
yes it probably will. You need a nice LA2A for vocals otherwise just track it to the DAW dry and use a good ITB emulator plug or envelopes to fix the peaks.

You don't need a compressor except for maybe drums. Even then it depends. It's all situational and depends on the source and the sound you are going for. Compressors are for adding texture as much as they are used as dynamics processors (their original intent)

If a singer has great control an great dynamics why do they need to be compressed? the don't need to be. People are just so programmed to hear "that sound" so they just comp vocals no matter what. It's become a certain cookie cutter sound in many ways. You are doing the right thing trying to be different. As long as the final product is pro sounding it's ok to not comp anything.
Old 7th May 2018
  #3
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i agree the the Cardinal .. but i would like to ask what you think a CHEAP Compressor is ??? and i use two compressors .. very light touch unlesss i am going for an effect ..

Jim Williams Modded 160A ... and innerTube Audio Squeeze Boxes ...

i just sold an 1176 which i used when i had it as well ...

cheers john
Old 7th May 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
i agree the the Cardinal .. but i would like to ask what you think a CHEAP Compressor is ??? and i use two compressors .. very light touch unlesss i am going for an effect ..

Jim Williams Modded 160A ... and innerTube Audio Squeeze Boxes ...

i just sold an 1176 which i used when i had it as well ...

cheers john
Cheap as far as pricing!
Old 7th May 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
Cheap as far as pricing!
ah .. maybe you can find a quality compressor used !!! i myself love to have gear modded .. so something to think about ..

if you find anything interesting used wise please come back and let us know .. there might be a Gem in the Forest !!

cheers john
Old 7th May 2018
  #6
Gear Maniac
Lotsa people don't compress. I think it's a try it if you have sort of decision. For most projects I prefer to record Bass through a comp. But not always. If it's easy to patch then it doesn't hurt to try. Plus with modern recording methods you can multi track record the same input to different tracks with different signal chains to do quick tests for the sound you are after.
Old 7th May 2018
  #7
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Compressor pre-AD or compressor while recording?

Pre-AD, hardware: only if arrangement is finished (band has demo) and only a good ones, for effect. Can't remember when was the last time, though.

While recording: always using SW compressors to get the sound i need, and for being alert of noises it brings up.
Bad idea is to record dry and using compression after recording, only when mixing, you'll get a lot of unwanted stuff...like a lot of hi-hat spill to top snare mic, or lot of mouth noises on vocal.
Old 7th May 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
Compressor pre-AD or compressor while recording?

Pre-AD, hardware: only if arrangement is finished (band has demo) and only a good ones, for effect. Can't remember when was the last time, though.

While recording: always using SW compressors to get the sound i need, and for being alert of noises it brings up.
Bad idea is to record dry and using compression after recording, only when mixing, you'll get a lot of unwanted stuff...like a lot of hi-hat spill to top snare mic, or lot of mouth noises on vocal.
pre-AD. Also I heard that Apollo Twin can compress in real time and act as a hardware compressor via plugins? Interesting seeing how that works...
Old 7th May 2018
  #9
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If your goal is to capture tracks of bands in your studio for money, it's fastest to not do anything but capture the track raw. If you want to use outboard, you can bounce with later.

If you have the time to set things up, say you are recording your own band on your time, then the compressor being heard by the singer while tracking can help out the finished track. If the converters are not top notch it can make a big improvement.

Taking that one step further. Once you have have your 10,000 hours in recording, then you know enough to use a compressor while tracking and not mess things up.

But if you are asking the question......don't do it. wait till the mix. The chances of it helping vs hurting are not in your favor.
Old 7th May 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
If your goal is to capture tracks of bands in your studio for money, it's fastest to not do anything but capture the track raw. If you want to use outboard, you can bounce with later.

If you have the time to set things up, say you are recording your own band on your time, then the compressor being heard by the singer while tracking can help out the finished track. If the converters are not top notch it can make a big improvement.

Taking that one step further. Once you have have your 10,000 hours in recording, then you know enough to use a compressor while tracking and not mess things up.

But if you are asking the question......don't do it. wait till the mix. The chances of it helping vs hurting are not in your favor.
So what you're saying is don't compress unless you really know how to use the compressor. And if you're tracking, you can just just gloss some compression over the vocal track in the DAW because it helps the singer?
Old 7th May 2018
  #11
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I start with a compressor patched into vocal tracks. It isn’t always set to do anything, but it is a Manley Vari-Mu that I like in whether it is showing compression or not. Bass is the trickiest for me. Some players are so controlled and consistent they don’t need anything. But on the other extreme, I record one guy who sounds like amateur night until you whack his DI and amp with a LOT of compression, and suddenly he sounds like a session regular.
Old 7th May 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
pre-AD. Also I heard that Apollo Twin can compress in real time and act as a hardware compressor via plugins? Interesting seeing how that works...
I use comps almost in realtime with a smallest possible buffer while tracking. No one complained about latency.

BTW, you always have some latency, realtime is impossible in digital, you still have AD/DA loop latency.
Old 7th May 2018
  #13
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Compressors? If was going for a lord Alge style song then I'd squish away both OTB and ITB otherwise no, but limiters always.. The best singers I've ever heard are rather dynamic, it adds weight and feel to a song. Although if you are a semi / powerful singer no amount of "mic control" is going to save you in every situation.

So having a limiter as a security net is never a bad idea, you don't have to go hard on it generally mine are never limiting more than one / two dB's and if your limiters are transparent it's hardly ever noticeable.. It also helps to get a mic "hot" for detail purposes but never suffer with digital clipping..

I wish it would help with untrained singers that like to go off axis though (doing a little jig), it's always great when things get quieter / muffled..
Old 7th May 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowAMD View Post
Compressors? If was going for a lord Alge style song then I'd squish away both OTB and ITB otherwise no, but limiters always.. The best singers I've ever heard are rather dynamic, it adds weight and feel to a song. Although if you are a semi / powerful singer no amount of "mic control" is going to save you in every situation.

So having a limiter as a security net is never a bad idea, you don't have to go hard on it generally mine are never limiting more than one / two dB's and if your limiters are transparent it's hardly ever noticeable.. It also helps to get a mic "hot" for detail purposes but never suffer with digital clipping..

I wish it would help with untrained singers that like to go off axis though (doing a little jig), it's always great when things get quieter / muffled..

Do you have any recommendations for light compressing?
Old 7th May 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
Do you have any recommendations for light compressing?
Again, you're probably after a limiter which for the most parts stops peaks jumping through / causing issues.. Not completely but it helps.

In the "cheap" end of the spectrum you'd be looking at a 1176 style limiter.. I believe the Klark Technic 1176 clone is well regarded.. There's also DBX stuff is great but I only have experience with either the vintage 160's or the rather expensive DBX 676..

I'm sure someone else can chime in on lower end DBX's but they tend to be rather transparent VCA's..
Old 7th May 2018
  #16
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bitman's Avatar
Me. I never track with any processor unless it's dynacomp for a guitar effect.
I'm afraid of printing something I don't like later.
Old 7th May 2018
  #17
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I guess it depends on if your making records as a commodity or as a form of art. If you’re in the second camp - tracking through hardware compressors can be a great tool for crafting sounds.
Old 7th May 2018
  #18
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Always on my stuff.
I have a mod Revive Audio Symetrix 525 that I use one side for recording bass direct through a JDI MK3 and the other side for my guitar (mic'd amp).
About 3/4 db reduction.
It just gives me a nice straight track to work with.
Old 7th May 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
I haven't been using a compressor for years and it seems to work fine. But everyone is saying you should use a compressor while tracking. How important is a compressor and also does high end vs low end matter if you're just going to be lightly compressing your vocals? Could adding a cheap compressor to your (pretty good) vocal chain mess up the quality of the recording?
A good tube leveling amplifier is important if you have a good singer and good song.
Old 7th May 2018
  #20
Gear Addict
Always since I can do it with nice hardware. Not heavy (I don't want to print something squashed) and with the right tools, it also prevents unpredicted clipping. I use a pre-eq-comp (or pre-comp-eq) chain always, even if some stays flat or works at their 5%. What they do to my tracks is absolutely unreachable with plugins.
Old 7th May 2018
  #21
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i split the mic signal and record both compressed (with a mild setting) and uncompressed signal if going to 2inch and with a limiter if recording digital.
Old 7th May 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal_SINE View Post
You need a nice LA2A for vocals otherwise just track it to the DAW dry and use a good ITB emulator plug or envelopes to fix the peaks.
A nice example of "here's what I prefer" delivered as if it were carved on a tablet.

Another one, slightly less preachy:

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
A good tube leveling amplifier is important if you have a good singer and good song.
And in refreshing contrast:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bitman View Post
I'm afraid of printing something I don't like later.
In the the world of GS where almost nobody will show you the goods, opinions are most definitely just opinions. And this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
So what you're saying is don't compress unless you really know how to use the compressor.
... is a good takeaway. In my opinion.
Old 7th May 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
everyone is saying you should use a compressor while tracking.
[insert old aphorism about "If Everybody Was Jumping Off A Bridge..." here.]
Old 7th May 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitman View Post
Printing as in shhh...... recording.
Assumed that. Recording, not typing.
Old 7th May 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Assumed that. Recording, not typing.
Would'a thought. Sorry
Old 7th May 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
A good tube leveling amplifier is important if you have a good singer and good song.
I don’t get this as it is written.
Do you only fire up the tube leveling amplifier after you decide that the singer and material are worthy of it?
A leveling amplifier, in my experience, is MORE important for lesser singers. A good singer and song can be recorded well with a huge variety of equipment.
Old 7th May 2018
  #27
JAT
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You don't have to have comp/limiter on every recording input. I usually use compression/limiting, but just a few dBs to "firm" up the signal and for unexpected peaks. However, an La2a-style etc. comp/lim can add more than firming to your sound with driving the tube, or the edge an 1176 gives.

But you can definitely damage a recording using outboard "live." Of course, you can also ruin a take when it overs. Pick your poison.

So, as said above, until you get competent w/ outboard, it is probably best to leave it off. And also as said above, I'd never use cheap hardware going in. Most software is better than most cheap hardware, and better software is almost as good as hardware.
Old 7th May 2018
  #28
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this is the NEw Regime ... track RAW and then use plugins or re-amp it (re-comp it with hardware) ...

sorry, i am old school and am Not Afraid to use a piece of Hardware on the Way In ... but i see many many folks saying that you should never ...

toss out the Rule Book and TRY IT !!! learn .. and keep learning ..

one person mentioned using both method at the same time .. Split - Raw and Comp/Limit ..

my .02
Old 7th May 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
this is the NEw Regime ... track RAW and then use plugins or re-amp it (re-comp it with hardware) ...

sorry, i am old school and am Not Afraid to use a piece of Hardware on the Way In ... but i see many many folks saying that you should never ...

toss out the Rule Book and TRY IT !!! learn .. and keep learning ..

one person mentioned using both method at the same time .. Split - Raw and Comp/Limit ..

my .02
Wow! I hear trumpets playing and flags flying behind this post!
“Try it” is sometimes good advice. “Try both at once with a split” is good, safer advice.
You write your own rule book, and you can save a lot of time living by the rules you’ve already tested. But when you have the time, the curiosity, and the right session (probably your own), take this poster’s advice and go off-roading.
Old 7th May 2018
  #30
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It depends on the sound you're going for, but most every record you've ever heard has made significant use of compressors in getting the sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imoan View Post
So what you're saying is don't compress unless you really know how to use the compressor. And if you're tracking, you can just just gloss some compression over the vocal track in the DAW because it helps the singer?
No, you never want to "gloss some compression" in the haphazard sort of way you're making this sound.

He's saying track with no compressors so you have the vocals in the purest form possible, and then do the correct and appropriate and finessed and fine tuned compression (in relation to the EQ/Fx on the vocals along with how it fits into the entire track) after the fact, either ITB or by running the vocal recording back out through outboard gear. That way if you end up not liking the compressed sound you come up with, you can go back to the pure vocal and try again without calling the vocalist back over.
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