do you guys find yourself using more compression when talent is not that good?
So when you guys get less than steller clients in your studio, do you tend to use morte compression to get the sound your looking for? Or do you find yourself going through the same paces and letting your skill shine through?
Instruments being played all over the place dynamically as opposed to in the pocket and on time?
I know its easier to mix a band when the players are great, but what when they are not? How does that affect your mix process?
Any insight or tips when you cant tell the musicians or if you get pre recorded stuff to mix would be awesome!
The short answer is yes, the long answer is not necessarily.
Short answer: Yes, you compress bad singers because their dynamics do not mesh with the intent of the song.
Long answer: Not necessarily; some great singers (Beyonce, Patrick Stump, certain screamo guys, etc...) are loud because it's the only way they can produce the tones in their voice that they intend to record. Compression, in this case, is more like an artistic liberator: it allows for loud tones to be bumped down in the mix while still retaining their emotional intensity.
At the end of the day, I say you should make your decision based on the style of music in light of the skill of the singer. If you think the singer is ill-suited to the style of music and poor dynamics are a reflection of that, then chances are you'll need to do more than just compression to make it work. On the other hand, if you think the singer has a ton of emotion going for him and just needs to be smushed, then go for it. Remember, this whole thing is an art form.
yes, yes and yes. also a direct relationship between no. of overdubs and amount of compression used. For me more live tracking, better musicianship, and less use of headphones all can lead to less compression
IME, use of compression totally depends on the style of music, density of the arrangement, where you want the vocal to sit psychoacoustically in the mix, and the consistency of the vocalist/musician.
I use compressors (and sometimes limiters) for several things:
1) To make the volume level more consistent between soft and loud passages
2) To make the place where the vocal sits in the mix more consistent at different playback levels (limiters especially useful for this)
3) To emphasize the proximity effect and/or feeling of intimacy on a vocal and make something seem closer in the mix
4) As an effect to alter the tone of a track, pump it a little, or affect the attack/decay envelope to bring out certain features of the sound (though I generally do this more with guitars, bass, and drums than vocals).
5) Compensate for bad mic technique of a vocalist or wildly dynamic bassist or guitarist in getting consistent levels to tape.
So of these considerations, only #5 depends on the talent, but yeah, it does play a role.
I generally do not find compressors useful as a tool to keep a vocalist from getting too loud or overloading the signal chain. For that I use a pad switch, gain knob, etc. If they consistently go from too quiet to too loud in the same take, I either split the track up into sections or try to find a mic/mic position that evens out the dynamics.