Compression

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of wing2015 wing2015 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #45082
    Profile photo of wing2015
    wing2015
    Participant

    Compression or no compression for background vocals and lead singer??

    #45083
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    Absolutely. Wouldn’t do a show without it.

    #45085
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    what he said… πŸ™‚

    Compressors can completely ruin the sound or massively improve it, but there is no such thing as a “preset” that just works best for everything.

    Most seasoned engineers use a compressor to either smooth out a sound or to make it more punchy, but it completely depends on the compressor as to whether or not it is capable of producing the sound that is desired by the engineer.

    Vocals are all different, some people eat the mic and others don’t.
    The most common settings that can be made on a compressor are threshold, ratio, attack, release and gain (often referered to as makeup gain)

    I will give a brief laymans description of what these setting do.

    Threshold, think of “threshold of pain”…. just how loud do you want the vocalist to get before you want your compressor to automatically lower the volume of that vocal.

    Ratio, the aggresiveness (20:1) or smoothness (3:1) that the compressor will alter the sound when the vocalist sings over the threshold.

    Attack, how quickly the compressor will grab and lower the volume of a loud note or passage that is over the threshold.

    Release, how long the compressor will hold the volume down after the threshold has been reached.

    Gain, if a compressor is purposely used heavily, then the sound is almost always above the threshold, so most of the time notes are compressed (tamed). Since the compressor will spend most of it’s time compressing the sound, we actually loose volume at the fader, so, to get some of it back, the makeup gain rasies our window of compressed sound to the fader.

    A good place to start for a vocal that is not “out of control” is 4:1 and the threshold will be determined buy the amount of level going into the compressor. If a vocalist is all over the place, then it is a good idea to radically increase the ratio to a much higher setting… maybe 10:1 and set the threshold (usually counter-clockwise) lower to smooth out the vocalist and keep them from being so uncontrollable.

    When a compressor is used to help minimize the excessive dynamic range of some singers and many in-experienced singers, it is critical that these setting be correct, if they aren’t, the resulting sound will be worse,… nobody wants to hear a pumping compressor on a vocal.. well, I don’t. πŸ™‚

    .02

    #45090
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    Very good description. I have also been a Nashville studio recording engineer much of my career. We had racks of compressors. I still own enough that value more than my first house. I have made 1000’s of recording projects and used them on vocals on everyone. Just use wisely. If you hear it choking the vocal back off the threshold a little.

    #45093
    Profile photo of Andreas
    Andreas
    Moderator

    Totally agree, but just wanted to point out that compression may get a little more complicated when it comes to monitoring. I’ve learned from some more or less unexperienced singers that they immediately reduce their volume when they start to hear themselves from the wedges. If the compressor tries to compensate too much for this and monitors are fed from post compressor (check global source for mix on the Qu) you may run into feedback problems when singers approach to the mics (from body reflections). Reducing vocals on monitors helps a lot to get more input from most singers..
    …and if you’re asked: There are no compressors used at all, of course… πŸ˜‰

    #45094
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    FWIW. I ran sound for Ray Charles on a show back in the early 70’s. No fancy console. Just some rack mounted Ampex mixers back then. I had a UREI LA3 compressor on the output of the final mixer. Ray sang about :30 of his first song during rehearsal and stopped. He asked if I had a compressor on his vocal. I told his manager I had an overall one. He said reduce the threshold or take it out. I did. I could not really hear much of what it was doing but he certainly could. Being blind affects senses differently.

    #45095
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    Reduce the threshold – or increase it?
    Probably a linguistic thing, but possibly he wanted it to be active more of the time, so that it didn’t “cut in”

    #45096
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    He didn’t want ANY compression on his voice. I mainly had it on there for system/speaker protection.

    #45099
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    That’s what I expected, but I’d have called that raising the threshold. No matter

    #45101
    Profile photo of av8en1
    av8en1
    Participant

    Thanks to all four of you for your feedback to WING2015 ; ) While I did not pose the question, the topic is one I always ponder.

    This is the type of dialogue I wish I could have with someone live and in person so you guys are educating me in the ways of live sound. Again, a sincere thank you.

    john

    #45108
    Profile photo of Mark Oakley
    Mark Oakley
    Participant

    My iLive is the first board I’ve owned where I can compress the vocal channels in the main mix but not in the monitors. This makes both the singers and myself happy as we both get what we want. Not sure if it’s possible on the Qu’s.

    -Mark

    #45109
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    Only if you use the groups and do vocal compression on a group rather than each channel (hence not on the QU16, unless you abuse a mix and return on e.g. ST1

    Can’t recall offhand if there is a compressor available on the FX units – that would be a nice way to sacrifice a mix for a sorta-group on a QU16

    #45114
    Profile photo of Andreas
    Andreas
    Moderator

    On the Qu you can configure per Mix if it is fed from Post-EQ (pre Compressor) or Post-All (including compressor). No need to use groups…

    #45115
    Profile photo of MarkPAman
    MarkPAman
    Participant

    See page 31 – “Mix Routing”. There are actually 4 possible options for pre-fade send for the mix groups. This means that it is possible to route monitors with eq but without compression from the “Post EQ” position for example.

    I’ve tend to run my monitors from the “Pre EQ” point, which gives me HPF and Gate for the mons. Any EQ needed must be done on the mix output, but I don’t tend to find this problem, and it leaves me free to tune the FOH without worrying about the monitors changing.

    #45116
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    XAPBob posted…”That’s what I expected, but I’d have called that raising the threshold.”

    you are of course correct πŸ™‚
    describing compression and other technical things concerning sound in text is not always clear to those who want to know and learn more.

    avBen1, your post made my day, thank you!

    MarkPAman, good, important information, since I did not go into full details about what happens when feedback occurs in monitors as a compressor “releases” the level at the end of a vocal phrase when too much compression is used. Good point to bring up. Talk about a runon sentance Dan πŸ˜‰

    Yes, raising the “threshold of pain” would reduce the compression. My experience with some musicians who “think” they know audio, is that they say just the opposite of what they really meant. Ray Charles most likely INDEED said…
    “lower the threshold or take it out”. I doubt GCumbee was confused with Ray’s terminology but instead automatically went into Auto Musician Interpretation mode, otherwise known as AMI,,, hey, I just made a funny … he he.

    The word “engineer” in this forum is usually understood as the person operating the sound, not the person/s designing the mixer or sound equipment that we use.

    This next somewhat off topic discussion is just me venting…

    Something that has aggravated me for years every timne I think about it, so, just for fun I am going to list some things that have always ticked me off, some of you will say … EXACTLY!

    The idiot “engineer” that decided to call a low filter a “high pass filter”,
    and the same idiot that decided to call a high filter a “low pass filter”.
    I understand HIS perspective, HPF (passes highs, cuts lows) and LPF (passes lows, cuts highs)
    but in all of his wisdom and knowledge (or lack thereof) he had no clue that it would be confusing to many users.

    The little MUTE switch on a wireless mic with it’s silk-screening words next to it…. ON/OFF
    The preacher, actor will look to make sure his/her mic is “ON” just before going on stage, where is the rolling eyes smiley? Why can’t these wireless manufacturers get it in their heads that the sound guy is not the one changing that switch? Why can’t they just change the word “MUTE” to ‘MIC” and have the words “OFF” on one side, and “ON” on the other? GEEZ!

    Again, engineers who want to save the manufacturer money by just “mirroring” the right channel printed circuit board (PCB), instead of designing the unit properly, so that one of the XLR connectors is not upside down. I once saw a chinese power amp that had Speakon outputs, and they were so close to each other that once you plugged a speakon cable into both channels, you had to get a skinny screwdriver for the release tab on the bottom speakon plug. OH MY WORD!

    There are many more I could mention, but in the interest of not sounding like a complete jerk, I will digress πŸ™‚

    oh yeah,
    inkjet printers

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