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How to improve my sound using compressor limiter expander

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by JAB8283, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. JAB8283

    JAB8283 Guest

    Hello all, I am a baritone bass vocalist and would like to improve my sound. I am using a standard handheld wired dynamic mic, and I'd like to incorporate my Peavey CEL-2 (Compressor Expander Limiter) into the chain. My projection is often over powering (causing distortion) and my soft parts are sometimes hardly audible. It is my understanding that this Peavey unit is supposed to help control my harshness and bring my softness out of the mud. Are there any engineers using this unit and if so could you offer some settings (dial positions) that I can use to put my vocals where they should be? I usually keep mic 1" - 4" from my lips or farther away when singing in higher than normal pitches for my low range capabilities. My singing style is much like Country Singer Josh Turner although not as low but close. My low range is in the mud and my high range causes distortion. I would like to keep mic close all the time and achieve the same levels all the way from low to high range without having to go into or away from the mic.

    BTW - I am planning a very near future purchase of the Electro Voice RE20 microphone to help even out my sound and introduce some warmth to my sound. I have heard from hundreds of listeners that love my laid back mellow tone and I'd just like to improve upon that.

    I am on a very limited budget and can't afford really top dollar high-end equipment at this time but I want to sound like a million. Currently I am performing from home studio through computer to a website. I would appreciate all directions and suggestions to obtain a better sound. If I need other types of equipment then I will consider those suggestions, I just want to sound better.
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Dear JAB:
    What you described by moving closer and/or away from the mic is typically referred to as "WORKING THE MIC" and is something virtually ALL PROFESSIONAL vocalists do in some form. The fact that you are expecting a box to do this for you is naive. A bit of compression is certainly welcome to help reign in the dynamic range that you have described, but you need to learn to use the basic tools FIRST...
    Besides, a compressor/limiter will not keep you from overloading the mic preamp with a "too hot" signal from the mic, as the compressor is a line level device that comes AFTER the mic preamp circuit. Choose the right mic for you and learn to work it.
  3. JAB8283

    JAB8283 Guest

    Okay I'm learning something here. In other words as I have been doing, when I am talking to the mic I should make love to it but when I'm screaming at the mic then I should pull away? Well that's what I have been doing but I didn't know that was proper mic technique. I am doing away with the dynamic mic because I feel it's not right for my purpose and until I can afford the EV RE20 mic, I have ordered a Samson C01U which UPS should be delivering any minute now and this in between mic package also includes Cakewalk software.

    I already have intentions of purchasing the Digidesign Mbox 2Pro with Pro Tools LE software, and the Electro Voice RE20 microphone with shock mount. I am also considering a purchase of a brand new Quad-Core dedicated computer only for the purpose of sound recording. I have the best intentions of purchasing the right equipment for the right job but that takes money and it's not going to happen as fast as I like.

    My business has grossed over $100K so far this year but diesel fuel costs consumed 70% of that and parts and repairs another 20%. I'm doing everything I can to enjoy two hobbies (ie: Trucking, Singing). I already own thousands of dollars in DJ equipment including this Peavey compressor and limiter and I was trying to see if it could be used in my performances. I can't sing through my audio mixer board because of latency issues. I'm just trying to find a way of getting the job done using existing equipment until I can afford to purchase the equipment I mentioned above.

    If my current method of working the mic is industry standard then I need to find a way to do it better because frankly I don't like the way I sound but continue to do it because the people who hear my music love what they hear and I want to do what I can to keep them coming back for more. When I reach the point where I feel I am ready for the big time then there is a professional recording studio in Indianapolis and they are the ones who will do the real magic. All I have to do is sing and leave it in their hands. Until then it's a home studio environment and whatever equipment I can afford. Either way I don't like my sound and it needs to be improved.

    If I shouldn't use this Peavey unit then I'll put it away but I need something in my mix that will give my vocals the edge it needs to make me happy and my listeners as well. All I'm asking for is suggestions and direction to get me there. Make me the singer that even I would want to listen too.
  4. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "My business has grossed over $100K so far this year but diesel fuel costs consumed 70% of that and parts and repairs another 20%."

    Is it just me or is this totally wtf?
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think you're suffering from too much diesel smoke?

    If you go from a whisper to blood gurgling, you have just wasted your money on a microphone not worth owning, to begin with. So you had a dynamic Mike which is what you should be using. You neglected to indicate what kind? Can you say operator error??

    You're talking about the RE 20 which is a dynamic Mike. It's a fabulous microphone. Yes, fat and smooth. And if you don't even have a mixer worth crap? You are terribly misguided my friend.

    If you need to record now? You need something that can do the job properly, now. You're going to overload cheap Chinese condenser microphones. Send the piece of crap back. You ain't heard overload until you hear this crappy microphone. You'll be a specialist in overload. You can't overload a dynamic of any type, at any price range (over $10) so even a $10 Uni-directional dynamic from Radio Shaft would be fine. Which is probably what you're using?

    You are overloading your $15 piece of crap computer sound card microphone input. Everything in computers has some latency. That's why you need a direct input monitor, external USB or FireWire interface for your computer. And that microphone input on your sound card is only for a multimedia headset so you can talk to your friends. It was never intended to be used the way you're trying to use it.

    I also have a big diesel truck. Mercedes-Benz 1117 which is a rolling control room on wheels that's 25,000 pounds. And I think my console weighs half that much? LOL! Look!


    Here's what you need and what it will cost.

    Shure SM58. $100
    Edirol UA-1EX $80
    DBX 286A Mic Preamp $180

    You won't be using your Peavey limiter. This is all you need. This will give you a wonderful sound without distortion with compression and limiting with an enhancer, including a bass cut filter which you should use. A line level stereo USB audio interface with an actual input volume control. 24-bit 96kHz capable. I provided just this system to a number of folks. The above items are available at Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, Guitar Center.

    If you still want to get a Digi design thingy and an RE 20, you'll still probably have problems. Why? Because you don't understand how to set levels. Work a microphone. Or record proper levels. Garbage in. Garbage out. Buy a book.

    And you have lots of DJ stuff??? What are you doing?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. TLTD

    TLTD Active Member

    I know this is an old thread, but not much helpful info so...

    Check for mics with varying polar patterns, some have switches for proximity effect reduction. The Peavey Cel2a version also have filters for this. With the regular Peavey Cel 2, it will help but you will need to try some things WITH IT ON to know exactly what. You are dealing with proximity effect with too much bass I'm positive as I don't imagine you are screaming and need to merely back off the mic. You probably figured out what you need to do but for others, the best sound card/mic in the world wont help and a "crappy" mic or sound card is not the issue here. If you are in a post production situation and your levels aren't clipping then you simply have to ride the levels with or without compression until you get the levels you need if moving physically isn't helping but if you use a high pass mic or on the Cel2a it will help and you may need to EQ the vocal track to bring the bass back in and it SHOULD provide a consistant level and may be the best solution.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It's an old thread and the OP is long long long long gone. You aren't going to help him much. And his purchase of a Samson condenser certainly didn't help him either at the time.
  8. TLTD

    TLTD Active Member

    It's not about helping him though, I mean it just sucks to google something and see someone just get blown off then wonder how many other people visited the thread and got nothing. Happens over and over and over on tons of boards.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Did you READ the responses all the way through? No one got blown off. The OP got a free lesson in mic technique as well as a tutorial on what to use and how to find out more about it.

    BTW....We're NOT "tons of boards"....We even respond to near-sighted posters with an obvious chip and a predetermined opinion.

    Before you go lumping something into something else before you investigate it, take a moment and do the very thing you're bitching about....look around and learn....then you'll have an idea about this place that holds water. Two posts and a membership starting this month doesnt make you some sort of expert on this site.
  10. TLTD

    TLTD Active Member

    I'm just trying to help, I might be the only person that actually has some experience with the compressor. Seems I'm always met with the same kind of attitude, let's just focus on adding something that might help someone else and not arguing. Apologies if I sounded like this wasn't helpful, but it just seemed like the answer was everything but what he asked specifically.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The OP had zero knowledge of what he trying to do. Its hard to explain something as complicated as a comp/limit/expander to someone with experience let alone NO experience. Inviting him to get a book and learn from it and to use the proper mic technique went further than trying to explain things that would be meaningless and probably more confusing.

    Look at the number of posts by the responders.....Do you think they understood exactly how to approach the situation?
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I feel for the OP and I'm with Remy and the others before this went sideways a bit.
    I'm a baritone and until I lost a really decent console, used a piece of crap for a few years and then went back to a quality console, I didn't know what I had and how important it was. Then, until I got a decent mic for singing, I had a hell of a time getting my voice to cut through when competing with higher frequencies. You should invest in the main things and go from there. The compressor isn't your answer at this point in my opinion. That will kill you before you have even started.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'll try more:

    Higher freq cut through with cheap audio systems easier and don't seem to be as effected in a example: getto blaster mix. Low freq sound muddy with cheap audio gear and become more burried and less definative in the mix. They are either too loud or burried all the time. I bet this is what you are experiencing and hoping the comp will help you?

    Investing is quality equipment is essential to get lower freq clearer and punchier, especially low vocals competeing with other freq in that range.
    Obviously this goes for high end too but from a very poor audio refference POV, for someone with little understanding in pro audio, maybe that explainastion will help him when it comes to trying to understand why and how to get a low freq voice to stand out more.. Its a big topic and like davedog just said, it isn't easy explaining this to anyone in a few sentences.

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