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Author Topic:  The Art of Compression
Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 12 Sep 2016 1:40 am     Reply with quote

Daryl Thisdelle wrote:
. Last but not least I use the meters.


YES !

If the compressor you are using happens to have a meter on it, you can SEE it working. If it doesn't and you are plugged into a recorder or DAW, you can still SEE it working on the input level meter. If there are NO meters, then you gotta listen , they are easy to hear once you understand whats happening.

Turn the knobs and watch it work while listening.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 17 Sep 2016 7:29 am     Reply with quote

I've been watching this thread and picking up as much as I can. Thanks all!
Can any of you give me any pointers as far as the use of compression on the vocals to give them a little punch? Not limiting. Just maybe a starting point to give the vocals a little punch in the mix?
Thanks again !
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 17 Sep 2016 2:58 pm     Reply with quote

Bud Angelotti wrote:
I've been watching this thread and picking up as much as I can. Thanks all!
Can any of you give me any pointers as far as the use of compression on the vocals to give them a little punch? Not limiting. Just maybe a starting point to give the vocals a little punch in the mix?
Thanks again !


I am certainly not an expert, but my guess is that the amount/type of compressionnis going to be subjective.
I would think it depends on the singer and the song.

I'll be interested to see what others have to say on this.

FWIW, here's someone that I've been paying attention to for mix advice.
Maybe this will be helpful to you:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dVTFbuADKTE
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 17 Sep 2016 10:10 pm     Reply with quote

Rick Schacter wrote:
Bud Angelotti wrote:
I've been watching this thread and picking up as much as I can. Thanks all!
Can any of you give me any pointers as far as the use of compression on the vocals to give them a little punch? Not limiting. Just maybe a starting point to give the vocals a little punch in the mix?
Thanks again !


I am certainly not an expert, but my guess is that the amount/type of compressionnis going to be subjective.
I would think it depends on the singer and the song.

I'll be interested to see what others have to say on this.


My 2 cents: I assume by "punch" you mean that the vocal sits perfectly in the mix. That means that the track has been reduced in dynamic range, quiet parts have been brought up while loud parts have been lowered and the track has a quality that makes it seem to jump out of the speakers without being too loud. To assume that it's just compression is an oversimplification. It usually is a combination of compression and fader rides because over compression gets in the way of retaining that liveliness, that "breathing" quality. So a lower ratio, the correct attack and release times , combined with fader rides is a better way than just slamming it. EQ plays a great part as well, especially whether it's pre or post compressor. And distortion in small amounts can really help when it adds musical harmonic content.

Rick Schacter wrote:

FWIW, here's someone that I've been paying attention to for mix advice.
Maybe this will be helpful to you:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dVTFbuADKTE


I like what Warren Huart does in his videos but I can't help thinking that heis one of those guys that reaches for processing before he even listens and what you end up with in that example is just flat and boring sounding, even maybe but musical? Seriously, if you use a maximizer in addition to your 1176 on your individual tracks to even things out and then run it all into a maximizer in your mixbus and then run the bounce through some mastering plug in for some more maximizing (remember, that's a tool to make things loud, nothing more, and as such it's very destructive) then you shouldn't be surprised that it has that nasty fuzz riding all over the track which is very evident in the finished product at the end of each video. I would caution against using the maxim plug on vocal tracks unless you are going for "that" sound which is so pervasive these days.
And using a de-esser on that track? Why? If you have to, at least set it to attenuate the high end only when gain reduction occurs. My opinion, YMMV.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 1:15 am     Reply with quote

Interesting... The finished vocal in the vid sounds like that robot voice sound I find intolerable in pop music these days.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 1:15 am     Reply with quote

Double post....
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Last edited by Bob Hoffnar on 19 Sep 2016 3:09 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 9:47 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
my guess is that the amount/type of compressionnis going to be subjective

Yes Rick, it certainly is. Smile
Having said that, I agree with Bob, the vocal in that video sucks.
But thats OK! Smile I get your point & thanks for posting it. He did make the vocal somewhat better. And Werner's point-
Quote:
To assume that it's just compression is an oversimplification.

I was going back to an earlier post in the thread where someone, I believe Tony, mentioned a certain amount of compression being used, right from the get-go, as a starting point for steel, and I would like to apply that to the vocal, not to oversimplify, but to simplify a starting point from which to work from.
I realize this is a "steel" thread, but to my way of thinking, the vocal is #1. The vocal tells the story, literally. The vocals don't "sit in the mix". The mix, sits in the vocals. But again, thats just me & my ears. Smile Smile
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 1:02 pm     Reply with quote

Bud, if you are using plug ins go ahead and start with the vocal presets. I would print a copy of the vocal with compression on a separate track to see if it really sounds better or if it is just louder.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 2:13 pm     Reply with quote

That makes sense. Yes it's plugins & the vocal, actually sound & video are recorded. Thanks Bob. Idea
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 4:04 pm     Reply with quote

Bud Angelotti wrote:


I realize this is a "steel" thread, but to my way of thinking, the vocal is #1.


Actually, Bud, this is a "compression" thread in the "recording" section of the forum.
All discussions pertaining to compression, whether it's regarding vox, steel guitar, bass guitar, etc. are welcome.
All opinions welcome too.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 18 Sep 2016 7:03 pm     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
Interesting... The finished vocal in the vid sounds like that robot voice sound I find intolerable in pop music these days.


So it's not just me Razz

Just one more thing, Warren boosts his EQ around 5K with a wide Q ( "a nice lift") only to then de-ess (compress when a specific, typically sibilant frequency is detected) across the entire band with a frequency set to 5K (definitely not esses, those live a bit higher), basically creating gain reduction for the entire signal every time his boosted 5K is present. It's a nice trick to use pre-comp EQ to make the compressor or de-esser behave more frequency specific but again he seems to apply it out of habit, not because the track needs it IMHO. If siblance were the problem he probably would use HF compression only (it's a setting in the plug in) pre-EQ and pre comp and set the frequency to actual siblance frequencies between 6.5 to 8 K. I think he just likes that specific chain for everything, kinda the way people work a lot these days.

Bud Angelotti wrote:
... The vocal tells the story, literally. The vocals don't "sit in the mix". The mix, sits in the vocals. But again, thats just me & my ears. Smile Smile


I'm not sure what "the mix sits in the vocals" means. When someone says "the vocals sit in the mix" they don't mean that the vocal is in there somewhere, it means that it sits on top without sounding separate from the mix. The entire mix needs "glue" to hold it together while allowing for the important parts to be up front without seeming too loud. Compression, especially bus compression is often used to serve that function but it has it's drawbacks.

Bud Angelotti wrote:
... And Werner's point-
Quote:
To assume that it's just compression is an oversimplification.

I was going back to an earlier post in the thread where someone, I believe Tony, mentioned a certain amount of compression being used, right from the get-go, as a starting point for steel, and I would like to apply that to the vocal, not to oversimplify, but to simplify a starting point from which to work from.


My point is that the assumption that compression alone will give you the "punch" you seek is an oversimplification, not the procedure itself. There's nothing wrong with tracking with compression every time IF you know what you're doing and it fits the genre. If you have a great quality outboard compressor and you like what it does to your signal then by all means, print it. My concern is that one ends up using compression on every vocal track all the time. If , on the other hand you could print uncompressed (if ITB there really is no advantage of committing compression to the track) and use fadermoves (automation) and only small amounts of compression you might find the result more pleasing, I know I do.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 19 Sep 2016 2:52 am     Reply with quote

You folks are all most helpful. Smile
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 23 Sep 2016 5:48 am     Reply with quote

Another way to look at getting the vocals more present would be careful panning of the other tracks.

Also try using the graphic editor for volume levels. Try adjusting the vocals by just one db at a time. You can barely hear it but it can make a big difference. I would do that before experimenting with compression.
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