Compressor woes...

Discussion in 'rec.audio.pro' started by Scott Chasty, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. Scott Chasty

    Scott Chasty Guest

    I've been having some recent problems getting a good vocal sound in my
    studio. I have an SPX 990 unit. But the pot it's wired into gives me a lot
    of noise, and yes, it should be cleaned and / or put onto another module...
    but well, let's just say that I'm not trilled about our engineering
    department at this time, and the company refuses to get a new board, (this
    one dates back to '74 I believe). Okay, so that aside, I have some other
    options. I have an old Symetrix unit that's pretty user-friendly, but the
    compressor on it is a little too harsh. It has an EQ on it, but when I turn
    that off, or down too much, it gives me a really "hollow" sound.

    Also, I'm recording everything into ProTools, so my other option is to just
    record it dry, and add compression in there. But, my question with that is,
    should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel, or
    should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    there? Our other producer uses an older SPX unit but brings it up through
    his board and mixes it with the dry signal, so should I be doing the same on
    the software side of things in ProTools?

    As you can see, I'm kinda new at this. I do pretty good with guitar sounds,
    but have never mastered the art of good vocal sounds. Gimmie a break, I was
    hired for my editing abilities :)

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Rick

    Rick Guest

    You do this for a living?
  3. Sugarite

    Sugarite Guest

    > I've been having some recent problems getting a good vocal sound in my
    > studio. I have an SPX 990 unit. But the pot it's wired into gives me a lot
    > of noise, and yes, it should be cleaned and / or put onto another

    module...
    > but well, let's just say that I'm not trilled about our engineering
    > department at this time, and the company refuses to get a new board, (this
    > one dates back to '74 I believe). Okay, so that aside, I have some other
    > options. I have an old Symetrix unit that's pretty user-friendly, but the
    > compressor on it is a little too harsh. It has an EQ on it, but when I

    turn
    > that off, or down too much, it gives me a really "hollow" sound.
    >
    > Also, I'm recording everything into ProTools, so my other option is to

    just
    > record it dry, and add compression in there. But, my question with that

    is,
    > should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel, or
    > should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    > there? Our other producer uses an older SPX unit but brings it up through
    > his board and mixes it with the dry signal, so should I be doing the same

    on
    > the software side of things in ProTools?
    >
    > As you can see, I'm kinda new at this. I do pretty good with guitar

    sounds,
    > but have never mastered the art of good vocal sounds. Gimmie a break, I

    was
    > hired for my editing abilities :)


    I would argue that the mic/preamp is much more important to vocals than what
    compressor you use and how. I would just get it into protools with the best
    mic/pre/converter I had, and only use a hardware compressor if it were a
    high-end tube unit or a Distressor. If I didn't have any good comps kicking
    around I'd use plug-ins but leave things pretty thin and rent gear for
    mastering or let a good mastering house beef them up. I wouldn't recommend
    balancing wet and dry signals in Protools since each plug-in adds a slight
    delay, and the dry signal has to go through some null plugs to bring them
    back into phase, a lot of extraneous operations.
  4. ScotFraser

    ScotFraser Guest

    << my question with that is,
    should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel,>>

    Yes, the compressor is inserted in the vocal channel.

    << or
    should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    there?>>

    No, aux sends are for reverbs & delays, etc.

    << Our other producer uses an older SPX unit but brings it up through
    his board and mixes it with the dry signal, so should I be doing the same on
    the software side of things in ProTools?>>

    For reverb, yes, for compression, no. Even though the SPX90 has a compressor
    algorithm in it, you will die by lethal injection if you ever attempt to use it
    as a vocal compressor.
    Scott Fraser
  5. Bill Ruys

    Bill Ruys Guest

    "Scott Chasty" <scottychay@home.com> wrote in message
    news:2VA2b.848775$3C2.19014762@news3.calgary.shaw.ca...
    >
    > Also, I'm recording everything into ProTools, so my other option is to

    just
    > record it dry, and add compression in there. But, my question with that

    is,
    > should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel, or
    > should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    > there? Our other producer uses an older SPX unit but brings it up through
    > his board and mixes it with the dry signal, so should I be doing the same

    on
    > the software side of things in ProTools?
    >

    Are you actually trying to control the dynamics? The above paragraph has me
    wondering. I have heard that some engineers use a compressor on an aux bus
    as an "effect", but it's not something you'd do to control dynamics at all.
    For this, the compressor must be inserted into a channel.

    What exactly are you wanting the compressor to do for you?

    Bill.
  6. Chay

    Chay Guest

    > Are you actually trying to control the dynamics? The above paragraph has me
    > wondering. I have heard that some engineers use a compressor on an aux bus
    > as an "effect", but it's not something you'd do to control dynamics at all.
    > For this, the compressor must be inserted into a channel.
    >
    > What exactly are you wanting the compressor to do for you?


    Basically, just to round out the sound. The application here is radio.
    And yes I do this for a living, but it's a very small market. The job
    requirements were having at least three teeth, and the ability to stay
    vertical for eight hours a day.

    Any thoughts on good compressor / eq settings for spoken word?
  7. Scott Dorsey

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    Chay <scottychay@shaw.ca> wrote:
    >> Are you actually trying to control the dynamics? The above paragraph has me
    >> wondering. I have heard that some engineers use a compressor on an aux bus
    >> as an "effect", but it's not something you'd do to control dynamics at all.
    >> For this, the compressor must be inserted into a channel.
    >>
    >> What exactly are you wanting the compressor to do for you?

    >
    >Basically, just to round out the sound. The application here is radio.
    >And yes I do this for a living, but it's a very small market. The job
    >requirements were having at least three teeth, and the ability to stay
    >vertical for eight hours a day.
    >
    >Any thoughts on good compressor / eq settings for spoken word?


    I hate to say it.
    But if it's in good shape (and most of them aren't, it's true), the Audimax
    does a surprisingly good job of levelling out voices without noticeable
    pumping of the noise floor between words. The nifty hardware that locks the
    gain level during quiet parts really does work very well. It's a special
    purpose tool for a special job, really.
    --scott
    --
    "C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  8. Mike Caffrey

    Mike Caffrey Guest

    In article <20030826032505.02500.00000670@mb-m23.aol.com>,
    scotfraser@aol.com (ScotFraser) wrote:

    > << my question with that is,
    > should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel,>>
    >
    > Yes, the compressor is inserted in the vocal channel.
    >
    > << or
    > should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    > there?>>
    >
    > No, aux sends are for reverbs & delays, etc.
    >

    I know of some albums that are very well respected for their mixes where
    there were compressors used on aux sends.

    Thre's aslo the feed back trick where you put a compressor on a send, send
    your vocal to it, bring the output of the compressor back up on a channel
    and send a little of it back to itself.

    Aux sends are for when you wnat to make once device available to more than
    one channel and/or controlling the exact level that ou want to send to
    that particulart device.



    www.monsterisland.com
  9. Scott Chasty

    Scott Chasty Guest

    Cool, unfortunately they're not going to be spending any more money on my
    studio this fiscal, so I'll stuck with what I have.
  10. Scott Dorsey

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    Scott Chasty <scottychay@home.com> wrote:
    >Cool, unfortunately they're not going to be spending any more money on my
    >studio this fiscal, so I'll stuck with what I have.


    You don't actually pay money for Audimaxes... call up the other stations in
    the area. SOMEBODY has one at the transmitter site gathering dust that they'll
    trade for beer.
    --scott
    --
    "C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  11. ScotFraser

    ScotFraser Guest

    << I know of some albums that are very well respected for their mixes where
    there were compressors used on aux sends.

    Thre's aslo the feed back trick where you put a compressor on a send, send
    your vocal to it, bring the output of the compressor back up on a channel
    and send a little of it back to itself.>>

    Given the original poster's lack of expertise I think esoteric applications are
    not what he needs to hear about right now, & putting a comp on an aux counts as
    an esoteric application. He needs to start at a more basic level, i.e. a
    channel insert.

    <<Aux sends are for when you wnat to make once device available to more than
    one channel and/or controlling the exact level that ou want to send to
    that particulart device.>>

    Yeah, I think I know that. Given the original post I'm going to stick with my
    advice that he insert the compressor on the vocal channel.


    Scott Fraser
  12. Go ahead and apply the compressor on an insert in ProTools. I'm not familiar
    with the comps in PT, but you could start with a 4:1 ratio, and medium-fast
    attack and release. Go for about 5 dB of reduction, and tweak it by
    listening. They may have presets available on those plugs too. If there is
    none for V/O, use a gentle vocal comp setting.

    I think you may find that adding some low EQ adds to the sound nicely. Don't
    go crazy with it though. And listen to it kind of loud to make sure there
    isn't too much (low end disappears at low volume).

    Good luck.

    --
    Bill L


    "Scott Chasty" <scottychay@home.com> wrote in message
    news:dAM2b.845656$ro6.16767010@news2.calgary.shaw.ca...
    > Cool, unfortunately they're not going to be spending any more money on my
    > studio this fiscal, so I'll stuck with what I have.
    >
    >
  13. In article <2VA2b.848775$3C2.19014762@news3.calgary.shaw.ca>,
    Scott Chasty <scottychay@home.com> wrote:
    >Also, I'm recording everything into ProTools, so my other option is to just
    >record it dry, and add compression in there. But, my question with that is,
    >should I be adding the compression directly onto the vocal channel, or
    >should I be creating an aux channel and adding the compression through
    >there? Our other producer uses an older SPX unit but brings it up through
    >his board and mixes it with the dry signal, so should I be doing the same on
    >the software side of things in ProTools?


    When I do this in ProTools (TDM), I use plugin compressors inserted on
    the playback / record track and have a nice time of it. Why are you
    considering mucking around with hardware inserts (dealing with all
    sorts of converter latency) to random early 80s multieffect units that
    aren't even known for working well for vocal compression when you can
    run some seriously nice compressors as plugins?

    The McDSP CompressorBank is a great compressor for vocals, and it has
    only 2 samples of latency. I use it all the time for vocals - I
    record the preamp straight into the converters and use it on the
    monitor side with great results. The Waves Renaissance Compressor is
    also quite nice for this use, but it has 64 samples of latency, so
    it's not quite so ideal if your talent has to monitor through it. In
    the mix when noone's cue mix is passing through them, both sound
    great, are easy to control and are relatively inexpensive. The
    'freebie' Digi dynamics plugin is pretty mediocre and it's hard to get
    usable results from it, but I'll bet it'll work better than an SPX-90
    on an insert loop, and it's free to you since you already have it in
    your rig.

    These would be my obvious choices. If you want to use hardware, then
    how about inserting an analog compressor between your mike amp and the
    converters and printing your tracks through that? Maybe funds are not
    available, but heck - why do your bosses think that you can hammer in
    nails without buying you a hammer? Get the tightwads to pony up for
    some tools that work. Your task is so far from rocket science that
    it's not funny. Printing a competent voiceover has to be the A#1
    basic task of any recording room - if you can't do it with what you
    have, you have to ask some serious questions to yourself and those
    around you.


    Best of luck with Ebeneezer Scrooge,

    Monte McGuire
    mcguire@theworld.com

    (BTW, your other producer who brings up an SPX-90 return with the dry
    signal is adding a good bit of phasing to the audio, since the delay
    through the SPX-90 is not zero (and not an integer multiple of samples
    in any workstation I know of, so it's not even able to be compensated
    for). I'm sort of surprised that noone has noticed this, but do their
    tracks sound phasey and thin to you? Overall, this sounds like a
    seriously messed up place to work, somewhere where audio is taking a
    'back seat'. Are they at least paying you well?)

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