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Tracking compression for rock vocals?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by MattRas, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. MattRas

    MattRas New Metal Member

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    Hey guys!

    I'm going to start recording the vocals for my band's debut soon. Rock vocals ranging from mostly cleans, to gritty and a few growls/screams.
    For this project, we purchased a SM7B and I preemptively figured I'd need a preamp with more gain that my interface can provide. Our drummer luckily works in a studio that makes audio for films and television, so we borrowed a nice mic preamp - Danfield MX30-t. There's not that much info on it floating around. - http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr13/articles/danfieldaudio-mx30t.htm

    Anyways, now I have plenty of gain, but seeing as I have a high-end channel compressor as well now, I figured we should track the vocals with some compression and this is where I come to you - I have absolutely no experience with this. I obviously will experiment with it a bit, but if you guys have some advice about starting points as well as any do's and dont's, I would appreciate it greatly! I don't want to go overboard and end up with a load of tracks that would have been better off if I just tracked without any compression to begin with.

    This paragraph from the soundonsound review is noteworthy:
    "Engaging the compressor instantly made me aware of its feed-forward peak-detection circuit, because it leaped out like a jungle cat and stomped on every consonant and lip smack. I seldom opt to use peak compression in the analogue domain, and this reminded me of my days engineering radio shows for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. I simply had to put aside how I usually set up a compressor, by cutting the ratio in half, tweaking the attack and release settings and just listening to how it behaved. The gain-reduction meter was a great help, providing a fast and accurate indication of how much compression was being applied, without any noticeable fluttering. I ended up with a ratio of just 1.5:1, 10ms Attack, 100ms release and the side-chain filter at about 100Hz."

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. MattRas

    MattRas New Metal Member

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    Also, is the variable impedance something I should use? If so, how do I go about finding the sweet spot for the SM7B?
     
  3. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    The problem is that none of us can listen for you. Pick the impedance that sounds best. If you don't hear a difference then don't worry about it. Since you're new to tracking with compression, I'd start with 4:1, attack of 10, auto release and set the threshold to do less than 5dB of reduction. Tweak to taste.
     
  4. MattRas

    MattRas New Metal Member

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    Sounds good, thanks! I'll definitely spend some time testing when my vocalist comes by tomorrow - and will rather go a bit too easy on the comp than a bit too hard.
     
  5. Eduardo Apolonia

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    If you are new to compression I would recommend that you don't use an hardware compressor in recording. You can compress it badly and then it will be very difficult to repair.

    If you aren't sure on how to compress it, use the hardware compressor to compress it afterwards recording.
     
  6. Nimvi

    Nimvi Member

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    I agree with Egan. I always track vox with compression, and the meter bounces between 2 and 4 reduction, depending on the passage.

    If possible, I'd suggest to try that compressor on some prerecorded clean tracks, and try all its limits. Either that, or have a friend sing/scream into the mic while you record a few takes with different settings on the comp. That should give you an idea of what the compressor sounds like and what it does or does not do well. It's a bit like using seasoning while cooking. You'll have to really know what they taste like to be able to put in just enough without ruining your dinner. And if you think it tastes better without the seasoning, don't use it :)

    While setting the attack time, pay attention to the first transient. Controlling it is good but you don't want to kill it. Just close your eyes and trust your ears.
     
  7. Jordon

    Jordon Member

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    I'm personally a fan of an LA2A on the way in, hitting about -5 to -7 GR on the loudest peaks. I've never had luck working with an 1176 on the way in. I know a lot of people who do that, but for me, it's just to aggressive.

    EDIT: Though I will slam the LA2A for screams/really aggressive vocals, if the singer is quite good.
     
  8. MattRas

    MattRas New Metal Member

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    Thanks for all your replies! We had a tracking session yesterday and the tracks sound great! The compressor seemed pretty aggressive, so I opted for a few db of GR and a fairly low ratio.
     
  9. MattRas

    MattRas New Metal Member

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  10. chdrummer

    chdrummer Member

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    Slate dragon. 4:1 ratio, mid attack, fast release. 5-10 db of GR
     

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