Vocal compression - does quality matter?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by ivanhoe, Jul 26, 2004.

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  1. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Guest

    As a trained singer I do my best to sing at right kind of levels and have studied and practiced mic technique. I've been trying to find out more about the recording process and was suprised to be told by one engineer that the quality of the vocal compressor isn't that important. In my recording experience, engineers always seemed to save one of their best compressors for vocals. I do understand compression but don't really understand his comment that "because the input is not being amplified in any way the quality of compression is not critical".

    Could anyone elabourate and maybe explain why they use the type and quality of compressors they do?
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Quality always matters. Since the vocal is one of if not the most important part of a song, then it deserves a great or at least very good compressor. Also, a great compressor has less negative artifacts as a result of using it then those of lesser quality.

    What you have been told seems more like the actions and result of limiting more than it does compression. Many times both are needed and often at the same time.

    I and many professionals use a compressor or even a chain of compressors not just for dynamic control but to obtain a unique and specific tonal character. This may also include using a ratio as low as 1:1 and the highest possible threshold setting.
  3. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    The quality of a vocal compressor is more important than people think.

    When doing vocal tracking or mixing I find the best compressor I can and use that because I feel like you can hear the compression on vocals more than any instrument. Especially if the music is vocal oriented.
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    I can't even imagine why someone would say that the quality of the vocal compressor isn't important... In my experience, it's likely the most important (of course, depending on the song, etc.).
  5. thruzero

    thruzero Guest


    Ivanhoe - I suggest you pay that engineer a visit and hurt him!
  6. EricK

    EricK Guest

    Re: Compression

    My suggestion would be to never visit or pay that engineer ever again.
  7. Chance

    Chance Guest

    Perhaps he ment that the quality of the compressor isn't that important as compared to the talent being sung into it, or the talent sitting behind the board. When I had my studio in Boston, I recorded Natalie Cole in 1971 while she was going to college. I was always used to comping the vox. When she recorded she did her own comping with mic tecnique and all the dynamic range was all natrual & intact and nothing would have been improved by comping
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    No compressor at all, is a completely different thing than "the quality of the vocal compressor isn't that important." But what you say is not without merit. I read somewhere that Barbara Streisand goes ballistic if she sees a compressor used on her ...

    I had posted a totally harsh reply before Audio Gaff posted. After I read what he said, I deleted mine because IMO, he said it all and in a better way than I..
  9. Ollie1

    Ollie1 Guest

    I love the using compressors especially on vocals and yes, quality does matter. There are so few singers that know how to control all their dynamics on the mic. The compressor is not only about dynamics. It is about creating a tone. Different compressors have different colors. Once you get to know your comps, you start to instinctively know which vocalist sound good using which comps. 1176, distressors, dbx 160vu etc. Different compression curves and different transformers, it all adds to the sound.

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