compressor for live use on vocals

Discussion in 'Controllers, Audio Consoles, Live Sound' started by LJ25, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. LJ25

    LJ25

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    Im not used to live work so to speak so could do with a bit of advice.

    I have recently got involved with a new band doing technical hardcore metal in which we have a vocallist whos voice can be described as nothing but brutal during his screams and angelic when singing.

    The problem I am having is his volume regulation. He is very consistent with both scream and sing when doing them exclusively. The problem occurs when he needs to do both in the same song. The singing is always much more quiet than the screaming so I am contemplating getting a compressor to even him out a bit.

    Are there any compressors on a reasonable budget that someone could suggest I have a look at that is easy to move and can easily be set up in any live venue? I am aware that a lot of the better venues will have them in house but being a new band we will most likely be playing in lesser venues initially which wont have a much of a comprehensive set-up.

    Cheers
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    dbx is the usual first choice for budget compression. The dbx 166XL is decent for a bit over $200. The 266 is cheaper. There are other brands worth considering, like RNC.

    Consider that if his voice is compressed in the monitors he may have trouble singing. If you have a spare channel, use an XLR Y-cable and put his voice into two channels. Use one with the compressor for the audience, and the other without a compressor for the monitors.
     
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk

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    The dbx 166XL is the least expensive compressor I've found that performs the way I feel a compressor should. There are less expensive makes and models (including one by dbx) that I don't think quite measure up. Most of the cheap units I've come across in my field work are basically useless.

    And since the 166XL is dual channel, you can put one on your lead vocal and use the other for whatever you would like control over. Gates and limiters on both channels as well for even tighter control. As far as ease of use, you can use it on your channel inserts, or it has XLR and TRS 1/4" connectors to use inline where needed.

    Other Options:
    The RNC is a great compressor, available in a single channel or dual channel.
    If you can find an old Yamaha GC-2020, I've had good luck with them too - but I don't think they make them anymore.

    We may have an entirely different definitions of "reasonable budget", but there you have 3 very exceptional dollar value compressors the really work well in my opinion. (dbx,RNC,Yamaha)

    Good luck!
     
  4. LJ25

    LJ25

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    Thanks loads!

    I will have a look at all of them and see which floats my boat. I understand the feedback issue so cheers for that. Budget is fine from the suggestions too.
     
  5. baze sax

    baze sax

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    I want to try the old school (motown) treick - spliting the signal in two channels. then while the first ch is set normal with reverb,the other is heavy compressed and equalised with 5-8khz upfront serving as a fill. is this clever idea for live vocals on loud stages?
     
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk

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    Any of the reasonably priced compressors mentioned would be suitable for that job.

    Is this a clever idea, or "sensible", to use in a live band application as you asked in the other compressor thread...?


    It depends on why you're doing it. If you have a really good PA and want to thicken up the vocal and gain a different level of control - I'd say sure, it's probably going to work as advertised. As a recording trick, this technique is time-tested and if you're doing Motown type material probably a direct hit.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to compensate for a lack of power in the vocal delivery, or trying to milk a little more performance from an under-gunned live sound system the results may be less dramatic.

    But if you've got a compressor - try it. You might find a method that is exactly what you're looking for, or discover a completely new trick you can share with the rest of us.


    When recording, it's not uncommon for me to take a direct out of a channel and mix the original signal with a processed version returned through another channel. And live sometimes I see other bands with borderline PA systems using their subgroups to add more meat to something. Assigning the channel to the main mix plus 1 or more subroups forces the signal through yet another path of amplification within the mixer before it hits the main. It defeats the purpose of having sub-groups, but some guys would rather have that one extra decibel of perceived loudness. It's a common trick, but no substitute for adding more cabinets and more amps. Just like having a compressor in the chain doesn't excuse the singer from using good mic-technique.

    Best of luck, I hope that's helpful in some way. If you try it let us know how things work out.
     
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    I think my biggest concern is phase. Adjusting an eq changes the phase of the frequencies affected, which doesn't matter when there's no other version of the signal to compare it to. But if you split a signal, eq one differently from the other and then mix them back together you have a relative difference in phase which may have undesirable consequences. Adding dynamics to one will make the effect vary dynamically. It could be interesting or it could be a train wreck.
     
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    For less expensive and great live compression lets not forget the Symetrix 501 or the 525 and of course the Valley People Dynamiter. Both out of production but both easily found on flea-bay or other used sites.
     
  9. baze sax

    baze sax

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    hey,what about the safe sound p1 pre/compr? they claim this is "the smoothest on the planet". and it's half rack, portable,70db clean input,has expander/limiter, easy to set up and finaly is hand made in the UK.
     
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    It's easy to claim things that can't be objectively quantified. The subjective opinions of engineers I respect carry more weight.
     
  11. baze sax

    baze sax

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    that's right too. but for 750$ it is a good deal. in that price range are also some nice ch strips like SPL track one, Drawmer mx60, Focusrite voicemaster, SSL alfa etc with more features.
     
  12. boxcar

    boxcar

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    one more vote for dbx for live screamy out of control vocals.
    try buying a used 1066(gate/comp/limiter) on e-bay.
    i got one of those and it works really well for live vocals.
    it does a lot of other things well also.
     
  13. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    I have owned a P1. It works great in a recording environment, but in a live sound situation, they are too prone to induce feedback.
     
  14. Live Sound Audio

    Live Sound Audio

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    It may also clip the monitors. Just try it both ways to see. Also see if he needs help eating the mic when he sings like an angel to get yourself an ounce of gain..
     
  15. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    Increasing the likelihood of feedback is simply a function of makeup gain. The only way one compressor would be more prone to feedback than another would be if it had uneven frequency response.
     
  16. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    How? I've never had that problem.
     
  17. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    That's not true. Most (if not ALL) compressors that utilize a set or floating threshold, rather than a manually-set Threshold, make poor choices for live sound due to the fact that they are constantly trying to pull up the gain on a weak source.
    And while the P1 does have a Threshold control, its' interplay with the downward expander made things very askew, as the time constants of the expander were too slow to not interrupt the gain increases fast enough.
     
  18. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    Agreed. I didn't bother to look up the manual like I usually do. But then I'm not sure why a boutique preamp/compressor specifically intended and designed for studio use even gets mentioned in the context of live sound. At any level of live sound where it might be used there will be a separate monitor rig rendering the problem moot, and any issues with FOH feedback would be worked out in thorough soundchecks.

    Ultimately its affect on feedback is still a simple matter of gain, even if there's no separate control for it.
     
  19. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    Well,I have over the too many years that I've done recorded and live sound, run across performers that prefer to use
    gear that is usually found in the studio. And how does a seperate monitoring rig render that problem moot? A soundcheck doesn't change the characteristics of a box, it simply aids in finding potential areas of concern.
     
  20. bouldersound

    bouldersound

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    Most of those I mix trust me to make them sound good without some special piece of gear. Fortunately, experienced singers generally know better than to compress their vocals in the monitors, especially after a bad experience with feedback or a strained voice. My fee goes up for the ones who don't learn.

    Until your last post I had assumed the engineer chose to use the gear, and that it was at FOH where he had control. That and a separate monitor rig would keep it out of the wedges where most compressor/feedback issues would be.