Time to start another little discussion on tracking with or without compression.
In the analog world the need for comression while tracking is fairly obvious. You need compression to help mask the tape hiss. As tape and analog improved compression became more of an effect.
Then when 16 bit digital came out there was the dual problem of the 96 dB signal/noise, and the need to avoid digital overs which create a non-coherent odd- order distortion. Using compressors as limiters helped tame the overs while at the same time made stuff seem louder.
So for the past 20 or 30 years people have tracked with compressors on anything that was truly dynamic such as kicks, snares, vox etc. Some of it was for level management and some of it was for effect.
With the introduction of 24 bit digitzers the available dynamic range increased 256x over 16 bit. This meant that one could track with enough headroom to not worry about overs and still have more signal/noise than any tape or 16 bit system ever had. SO this also meant that there is no longer a need to track using compression accept as an effect.
I elected about 18 months ago to stop tracking with any effects. I use compression and reverb plugins for the talent in their Cue mix so they can "perform to the FX" but I do not print it in the track. I have heard engineers comment that they just cannot get the "punchiness" of an analog compressor from a plugin. While I agree you cannot get the same sound I think engineers are just not aware of how to set a plugin compressor to sound like (dynamically anyway) an LA-2/LA-3 or any other opto coupled compressor. The key is to realize that the opto coupler used in these compressors has a VERY slow attack and an even slower release (they use luminescent back light which light up slowly and turn off slowly) as the light source. Thats why they have so much punch.
So I do not use anything on vocals or drums when I track. I get no overs by keeping 0VU= -14dBFS and tracking at about -14 to -10 dBFS. I also get better than 90 dB signal/noise at these levels and all the detail of 24 bit (you do not loose any bits by tracking lower). My vocalists and drummers really like the results.
I have nothing against using FX in the tracking process I just choose not too. My main point is that compressors and limiters are truly just for FX at this point.
Has anyone else tried this yet?
Is anyone having trouble getting any of this to work?
I will put together some examples of pieces tracked this way later for people to sample.