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  • Compression on vocal mic

    I'm looking at replacing my mixer setup and thinking i might want to add some compression on my vocals (either onboard or a separate processor). A couple reasons for this:
    1) I don't like being right on top of the mic, tend to sing about 6" away. And then if, say, i need to lean over to the side to adjust the mixer or something, my vocal level drops.
    2) Thinking about going to a headmount mic (that's another whole topic), where i won't be able to do my current trick of leaning in for extra boost when singing notes at the bottom of my range (where my voice tends to disappear).

    So i was wondering if other folks are using compression on their mics and how that's working for you.

    - Jimbo

  • #2
    I suspect you'd be better off putting the compressor money into a mic with the characteristics you want. Don't know what that would be, though I use an Electro-Voice N/D767a which sounds good with my voice and works well from farther away than an sm58 for example.
    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

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    • #3
      I think a supercadioid mic would work better for you.
      Compression can be a double edged sword. It may act as a limiter if you try to alter the volume dynamics. I have done it for recording, but never for live applications.
      Headset mics take a while to master, mainly breathing, but also the lack of placement dynamics. They are fine if you have a soundman riding your channel...god forbid you sneeze or cough...
      "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
      "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

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      • #4
        I use aTC Helicon play acoustic which auto eqs and adds compression adapting to the room and your vocal style. I never even think about it now all I do is adjust the volume and amount of reverb depending on the venue.
        Cheers Steve

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jimbo_Keys View Post
          I'm looking at replacing my mixer setup and thinking i might want to add some compression on my vocals (either onboard or a separate processor). A couple reasons for this:
          1) I don't like being right on top of the mic, tend to sing about 6" away. And then if, say, i need to lean over to the side to adjust the mixer or something, my vocal level drops.
          Because most vocal microphones are directional, you're going to have some volume level drop-off whenever you move to the side of them and out of their optimal pickup pattern.

          2) Thinking about going to a headmount mic (that's another whole topic), where i won't be able to do my current trick of leaning in for extra boost when singing notes at the bottom of my range (where my voice tends to disappear).
          A headset mic would allow you to move around with more freedom, but you're right - you would no longer be able to "work the mic" by getting closer or pulling back. Compression would help even out those volume fluctuations - I'd definitely recommend using a compressor if you do decide to go with this kind of mic.

          Daddymack, good point about the coughing... there's a box from Pro Co called a Cough Drop (now called the Sign Off) that is like a stompbox - you click on it and it mutes your own mic signal to the board, so you can cough, have a private word with the bassist between songs, or whatever... highly recommended for anyone using a headset mic.




          **********

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          • daddymack
            daddymack commented
            Editing a comment
            The problem with the Coughdrop/SignOff is that the purpose, for me, of a headset mic [especially a wireless one] is to allow you to move freely around the stage area...so having a fixed box would seem counter-intuitive...YMMV. A simple on/off toggle switch on the wireless xmtr unit would work, except most people put in on the back of their belt. I kept mine on my guitar strap, still hard to manage in a sudden paroxysm of coughing or sneezing. I have gone back to a fixed dynamic mic for live; it is what I learned on decades ago, and I sold my wireless headset mic after less than a year...good riddance
            Last edited by daddymack; 10-20-2017, 10:39 AM.

          • Phil O'Keefe
            Phil O'Keefe commented
            Editing a comment
            Put the box after the wireless receiver's output... That way, you can kill the signal via the box (which you'd set in a convenient spot onstage), but you're still wireless.

          • daddymack
            daddymack commented
            Editing a comment
            convenient? depends...I don't go far in my solo act, because of the set-up and the mic. If I was wireless I might wander into the room...which would make a stomp device pointless. Any device to cut the mic feed for a cough/sneeze should also be wireless and wearable.
            Last edited by daddymack; 10-28-2017, 09:37 AM.

        • #6
          I am a believer that the least amount of compression you can use, the better your dynamics and thus your expression will be.

          I don't use it at all.

          I agree, find the mic that suits your voice best. I use a Sennheiser MD421 and it works on both my voice and sax.

          As far as singing 6" away from the mic is concerned, I'd suggest that you to learn to get closer. In live settings, the farther away from the mic you want to position yourself, the hotter the mic channel must be, and the possibility of feedback increases.

          My Sennheiser has for all practical purposes zero proximity effect, so I can get very close to the mic. That keeps my voice more in the channel, the ambient stage noise/music less in the channel, and less of a chance of feedback. Of course YMMV.

          Insights and incites by Notes
          Bob "Notes" Norton
          Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
          The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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          • #7
            I will echo others; you basically want to change the laws of physics by using a compressor. That's a tall order. Why not stop leaning over? Or get a tablet mixer mounted on your mic stand. I just switched to a Mackie ProDX8 (see my thread) and now I can adjust levels without going off mic. I can even noodle on guitar with my left hand and adjust my tablet app with my right.

            I like to use compression for singers that have no self control, or on things like guitar where smoothing out those irritating mid range peaks helps the overall mix. Otherwise it's like using a cathedral reverb preset - just because it's there doesn't mean you have to use it.

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            • #8
              In the 'old days' we learned mic control. It's a good skill because YOU control the dynamics not the compressor.

              Like any other instrument, the mic has characteristics that can be exploited. Closer, father, off center, direction of your projection to the diaphragm, and so on all have nuances that color the sound.

              My guitar produces nuances on how I pick it, where I pick it, and what other things I do with my hands.

              My sax responds to the shape of my mouth, how much or little breath support I use, whether or not I half close other keys, in some cases which alternate fingerings I use, whether I pass the breath through my vocal chords or not, and so on.

              Why not use the mic the same way? It's a tool. Learn how to use it to your advantage.

              I played with a blind pianist/singer, Gilbert Montagne in the 1970s who is now a famous star in his native France. I remember him making funny faces to change the tone, moving all around the mic, sometimes even rapidly moving his head like a "no" nod to produce tremolo. This is when I realized that the mic is as much of a tool as my sax is.

              Charlie Parker is quoted as saying, "You don't play the sax, you let it play you." What I think he means is learn what the sax will do, and use that, learn what the sax will not do and don't try to use that. And the same goes for all musical instruments, including the mic.

              Just my 2 cents.

              Insights and incites by Notes.
              Bob "Notes" Norton
              Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
              Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
              The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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              • #9
                I agree, Notes: learning mic technique is learning the amplification aspect of your voice, no different from learning to control feedback, etc.
                "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
                "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                Comment


                • Notes_Norton
                  Notes_Norton commented
                  Editing a comment
                  A little practice and experimentation can deliver nice results.












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