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  • Compression


    How important or necessary is compression on vocals? Is it more or less important on non powered speakers than powered speakers?

    Also does it make vocals sound better or does it degrade the sound?

    Sorry if the question is lame but i don't have alot of experiance with this and tring to find out some answers.



  • #2

    buy a decent compression unit and try it out.


    then spend literally years learning how to use it.


    i dig my acp-22 on vox a lot, no longer made. super icy or transparent. can also be fuzzy if you want.

    i also use some dbx stuff, its ok but 'colorful'. dbx compression tends to be really fuzzy to me.  the more colorful the better; you may have a different idea and that is ok.

    band status - "its complicated"


    • ChiroVette
      ChiroVette commented
      Editing a comment

      Never used one myself, but I have heard some really good things about the RNC compressors.

  • #3

    I think all vocals can benefit from at least a little compression, especially in a "full on band" where it's sometimes hard to have enough dynamics to let a soft vocal passage come through clearly. When you introduce compression though you are reducing (compressing) the dynamic range. Unless you're using your compressor as just a limiter that means your bringing the noise floor up. That, in turn, means you have less room before feedback starts, plus you're getting more stage bleed into the mains.

    A lot people get in over their head by overusing compression and ending up with nasty artifacts, feedback, and a polluted mix. I tend to use compression as a limiter for backing vocals to just keep things in the pocket as backing vocals are generally full voice chorus situations. When used as a limiter you don't need to add make up gain, which is what makes the noise floor come up. So you get limiting without increasing the chances for feedback and other undersirable compression characteristics. For the lead vocal I use something around 3:1, with the threshold set to barely compress on normal voice passages, but compress as much as 10 dB's if I'm screaming something. Probably averaging 3-6 dBs.

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    • FormerlyBassred
      FormerlyBassred commented
      Editing a comment

      Absurd, yes, it can be a very helpful tool. 


      To the original poster.. if you have those questions, one gets the impression that you don't know what compression is/does. If that is the case, it is better to not worry about it. 

      Do a little reading about dynamics/compressors and what they do and why you would use them, and how they work. When you notice a need for compression, then get a decent comp and spend a lot of time with it (starting with very light settings) and don't rely on any marketing jibber-jabber.... 


      Compression is best left off until you know what it is and how to use it. Can do more harm than good if not used correctly.

  • #4

    I hate when my vocals are uncompressed in a live setting---it just doesn't sit well with the mix.

    These days, I use a TC Helicon Mic Mechanic, which has a single-button compressor.  No, it's not as accurate as a full-on compressor operated by a knowledgeable sound man, but it's one hell of a lot better than uncompressed vocals.