comp on the way in?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by sammyg, Dec 12, 2003.

  1. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Hello ALL,

    Would like to hear your thoughts on "comp on the way in". Reason I ask is beacuase I am looking at purchasing an eight channel pre (mainly to track drums), I'm in two minds, dont know if i should go for something with comps on board or just a straight pre. I usualy like to track an unprocessed signal, but some of my fellow producers have been urging me to comp on the way in. Well, im open to suggestions!

    Also, one last thing, I recently purchased a beta52a, tracked some kick with it and experienced a sort of graininess with it. Besides that its great! anyone else experienced that with one?


  2. Bobby Loux

    Bobby Loux Active Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    depends on the type of music. I write and record pop/rock/blues style and like a real open sound to my kit. I dont choke up the drums or compress much going in. I use about 8-9 mics total and have some outboard compressors that only get used on kick and snare even then the ratio is so low that I could do without it.

    I took back the Beta52 after I was experiencing a honky mid range sound that IMO and my style didnt care for. I replaced it with a D-6 that has made me happy.
  3. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    I have compressors on all the drum mics but I compress very little on the way in unless the drummer really sucks at consistancy.

    I've never noticed a "grainy" sound from my beta 52's but I can't say I care for them too much. They have'nt made it out of the case since I bought my D6's.
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Often artist's, so called producers, A&R clowns, and other experts that read the internet and trade rags don't have any real practicle experience or fricken clue what they are talking about and ask for things to be done based on their lack of understanding how and what tools to use and when or where to use them.

    Using a comp on input has it's advantages and disadvantages. If you need to re-track or re-record, it may be difficult to get the exact same sound again or remember what you did to get it. If you don't set the comp just right and screw up the recording, you will be forced to re-record to fix that correctly. Those with good experience and and pre-production skills may often use comps while recording to make less decisions at mix time and or because of the limitations of what kind and how many comps they have available to them.

    Using a comp when tracking or mixing is sometimes not even much related to it's ability to control the dynamic range as it is for the tone and the way it eq's the original sound. Other times and most often, a comp is better used not as a comp, but as a limiter to allow the wide dynmamic range up to the set max limit level.

    Most 8-ch mic pre units don't have comps they have limiters and usually real nasty crappy ones at that. One channel of a real good comp/limiter is likely to cost near as much as the whole 8-ch mic pre that you gonna buy. I can't think of a decent made 8-ch mic pre unit that is worth buying that has any built in dynamics.

    As for the Beta 52 mic, it is very likely that the graininess you hear is distortion overloading the mic and/or the mic preamp input.
  5. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    If one has tracks to spare, what about recording a simultaneous copy of the compressed track: one track is clean, the other is comp'ed.

    This might be of value to newbies like myself, who can then hear the difference between the two. It would also provide a safety net for the "oops" factor of dorking up the track and needing to record again.
  6. ErikFlipside

    ErikFlipside Guest

    while this may or may not be true, it seems reasonable and therefore is my take on compression. you have a kick drum, you're going to compress it one way or another. if you're working with the hyper-accuracy of the digital domain, does it really matter when you compress? the drum is always going to create the exact same sound, and the mic is always going to capture it the same way, so you have the begining of your signal the same at all times. you're always going to be altering the same original sound, except one way will occur after the mic and the other is going to be after that original sound is captured. does that make sense? the way i see it, when working with digital, compressing on input only limits your options later unless you are 100% sure of the sound you're getting. the only exception i could see to this is for vocals. otherwise, i would much rather leave my options open and avoid retracking....
  7. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I'll compress on the way in on occassion...if it's integral to the sound that I want.

    To me, it's like painting a picuture, and if a certain amount compression is required to get the effect that I'm looking for, then I'll commit to it in the tracking phase. It's just a different way of working, just like an artist would not always draw a sketch, and then paint after, sometimes they'll just throw colour at the canvas and see where they end up!

    I don't really see this as "limiting my options" for later, as much as it is focusing my efforts on maintaining whatever vision I had when I got the sound in the first place. Far better to commit to something that sounds great and is 'happenin' early in a recording than to let is slide by.

    I'll print effects too, if its part of the overall sound. Hell, sometimes I crank the FX (or the compression) in the headphone mix just to see how it will influence the performance. In those cases you need to print it 'wet', or you lose the context of the performance.

    That said, I never use compression as a form of overload protection...instead I do proper gain staging.


  8. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Thanks All for your input!


    P.S. Im glad i found this site which actualy contains real muso's and users of sound gear,
    I've been looking for something like this for ages. Keep rockin'!
  9. slicraider

    slicraider Guest


    Compression going in definitely changes how the converters hear the sound and that result is always IMHO different sounding then after the fact compression.

  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I very seldom compress on the way in.I pay a lot of attention to my gain staging,my levels and mic positions.If the sound of the source is alive and jumpin off da tape going in then I see no reason to adulterate it with processing.This being said, for certain types of sounds I would more than likely squeeze the living daylights out of it.These would include very heavy guitars,extreemly fast and heavy snare drum/kick drum,some bass guitar especially a mic'd cabinet,a very active sax part......that being said, I do like a bit of soft-knee going in on bass...usually a Dbx903.This is mostly on our own material which is acoustic bluegrassy kinda crap...the bass is an incredibly good sounding 65 P-bass with nylon flats on it, and I'm looking for an approximation of an upright in some cases.The compression gives it that upright kind of decay.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Things are much different nowadays. In the past there really weren't a lot of options but these days what you track to, can have a great deal to do with if you use compression or not when you record.. If you track with a stand alone digital multitrack then you may wish to wait to use compression as you have the chance to insert a comp on a channel at mix.. but if you are in DAW you may want to get that flavor or sound as you go into the "box" ...

    You also have choices you didn't used to have.. good hardware comps to be used at tracking or in send/receive loops at mix or no comps in front and high end plugs at mix.. or a combination of both. The best thing to do is to experiment, try a comp on the way in and then try it without... in DAW you have virtually unlimited tracks, so make a mult and compress one track and don't compress a second one.. then use one or the other or perhaps both at mix.. Try things out and build a "playbook" of moves and methods you like to use.. build work habits so that in the future you will have a "method" to the madness, a "way" in which you work.. you will begin to visualize the mixes before they happen and will be the result of an actual plan rather than the outcome of a series of lucky moves..
  12. nizl

    nizl Guest

    That gets my vote :tu:

    I'm generally much happier w/ my results when I compress w/ a nice analog compressor going in, versus only trying to do it later...
  13. MikoMader

    MikoMader Guest

    When going into a DAW i like to use a small amount of compression or limiting on the way in. But it depends on the source sound. For guitars I usually place a mic, pick a pre and go for it. But I like what happens to drums and bass when tracking with some gain reduction. Maybe I'm tricking myself into thinking it sounds like tape saturation. Maybe I should stick to making wigs.
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