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How aggressive to be with compressing vocals during recording

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by musicproducer, May 9, 2011.

  1. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    Every recording/mix setup is probably a bit different. I've been advised by mixing engineers to be cautious with the compression while recording, because once it's done, it's done. But my experience has been that my Avalon 737 is more transparent than any compressor I can apply during the mix in Pro Tools. Therefore, I crunch it pretty good when cutting vocals, and just do volume moves when mixing, without any further compression to color the sound.
  2. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Many engineers will tell you to use caution for the reason mentioned, and it is true. But for the experienced engineer less caution is needed. If you really know your gear, and have a comprehensive understanding of what compression is and what it does, and if you thoroughly understand why you are compressing and just how and where the track will sit in the final mix, then compress to your hearts delight! But those are a LOT of "if's" and are satisfied only after years of experience and scores of mistakes.
    I agree with you that my Avalon 737's compressor sounds much more transparent than any software compressor I've used, and I love it! But we can't always tell in advance how a track will sit in a mix, so I will often use the 737 during mixing by running a track out through an aux and then back in. That way you preserve your options while still getting the transparency.
  3. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    Jeff, great studio! I grew up in Bothell; my dad used to talk about making deliveries to Vashon Island (he was a truck driver) but I was rarely there. I think I played tennis there a few times with some kid I met back in the day.

    I agree with all your observations. For the music I produce, I haven't found any downside to fairly aggressive compression. However, to me that means 10-12 db tops, and I'm sure some guys would get a lot more crazy with it than that.
  4. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Thanks! Vashon is a great place but it does give me challenges trying to attract a clientele from the Seattle area. It's only a 15 minute ferry ride from either Seattle or Tacoma, so it's more of a mental barrier than a practical one. Vashon's population is only about 11,000, and though we have a disproportionate percentage of musicians, they aren't enough to keep me as busy as I would like to be.
    Back to the compression issue, keep experimenting and do what works, never mind what someone may have cautioned if you can work it out. I specialize in acoustic music and as such seek to preserve a great amount of dynamic in my tracks. But too much dynamic range can be a problem as you will tend to lose quieter notes in the mix, so I always apply a degree of dynamic control on just about every track which eases the mixing process. I reserve the Avalon mostly for vocals.
  5. chavernac

    chavernac Active Member

    It s hard to tell...
    if you are the mixer and you know what kind of product you are looking for... then you can make drastic judgments during recording...
    Otherwise, I would say: Just control the peaks.
    This video is pretty cool at explaining how to use a compressor on vocals: Compression Overview - PUREMIX

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