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  • Compression on live vocals

    Hello all! I need some help figuring out how to best amplify my vocals. When we play live, we play a range of songs, some where I sing quite loudly and forcefully and some where I sing rather softly. We have been having a lot of trouble getting a consistent live sound (unless we're using our own PA and running the sound ourselves), and it has been very frustrating to deal with. Last week, it struck me that running my vocals through some sort of compressor might help even out the volume I'm singing at and get us a better live mix.



    Have any of you tried this with your own vocals? What do you think? Any other tips on getting consistent mixes when playing live?



    THANKS!
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.jealouscreatures.com" target="_blank">http://www.jealouscreatures.com</a></div>

  • #2
    Possibly, if you don't overcompress and only worry about leveling out the louder stuff.

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    • #3
      http://www.dbxpro.com/product_downlo...s%20Manual.pdf



      Page 5. This is the guide I go by for vocals, however the one in the chart (smoothing out vocal performance) I only use about 2:1 on the RATIO, the chart goes 4:1 RATIO and that's too much compression I've found (see post # 2 don't over compress). You are going to have to play with attack and release, and thresh hold and I only suggest this is a guide.

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      • #4
        Sweet! Thanks for the link. I'm reading it now.
        <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.jealouscreatures.com" target="_blank">http://www.jealouscreatures.com</a></div>

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        • #5
          I use a separate compressor on each vocal mic, set at about 3:1 and start with the threshold at about -8 then watch the meters when each person sings. You'll still have to work the mic, but this helps even things out (well, it seems to work well for me). It's important to use your ears. When you're singing at lower volumes, eat the mic. Back away a few inches for louder passages--but listen carefully.

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          • #6
            Am I reading it correctly that you're looking for something to run your vocal through before sending it to FOH on the gigs where you're not using your pa and have house guy running the system? If so, showing up with something like a compressor that the house guy has no control of isn't going to win you any friends.

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by Crownman
              View Post

              Am I reading it correctly that you're looking for something to run your vocal through before sending it to FOH on the gigs where you're not using your pa and have house guy running the system? If so, showing up with something like a compressor that the house guy has no control of isn't going to win you any friends.




              Good point. I guess I didn't read the entire post. If you have a sound man, you need to rely on him to get your vocal where it needs to be.

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              • #8
                While a house PA operator may be able/willing to add compression to your vocals, you might consider whether you could work on your technique so that you didn't have to rely on technology. If you know (based upon experience) what compression settings to suggest to the house tech, you can do that. Whether your suggestions will carry any weight is an open question, however. (Hence the initial suggestion.). YMMV. Mark C.
                "Good tools are expensive. Cheap tools are damned expensive."

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                • #9
                  Frankly, I would work on mic technique first. It's effective, cheap and may end up allowing you to deliver a BETTER performance than messing with a compressor.

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                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by agedhorse
                    View Post

                    Frankly, I would work on mic technique first. It's effective, cheap and may end up allowing you to deliver a BETTER performance than messing with a compressor.




                    Aged, am I wrong in assuming that compression on vocals, for the most part, is only necessary for singers who do a lot of screaming or harsh and loud singing?

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                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by ChiroVette
                      View Post

                      Aged, am I wrong in assuming that compression on vocals, for the most part, is only necessary for singers who do a lot of screaming or harsh and loud singing?




                      Or who have poor mic technique, or for fine tuning some thickness and peak to average ratios (in the hands of a knowledgable, experienced FOH engineer).

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                      • #12
                        In theory - compression can make a lot of things better - in practice - it can also make a lot of things worse. I never use a compressor any more.
                        <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.myspace.com/steverobertband" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/steverobertband</a> <br />
                        Fav. Quote: &quot;Be the change you want to see in the world.&quot;</div>

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                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by agedhorse
                          View Post

                          Frankly, I would work on mic technique first. It's effective, cheap and may end up allowing you to deliver a BETTER performance than messing with a compressor.




                          ^^^THIS^^^



                          A mic is no different than the instrument you play. You have to learn how to select one and then learn how to "play" it.
                          NSA - The only government agency that actually listens to what you have to say.

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                          • #14
                            I watched some video and your microphone selection, coupled with the style being sung could make it very hard to "work the mic". I could tell it was an Audix, mic but couldn't make out the model. If it was an OM7 or OM5 you'll have a hard time working the mic for soft and loud passages to make them stand out the same because an inch makes a big difference. They are microphones you keep your lips on the grill with, which you pretty much did. In the video I watched the verse was almost mumbled, by design it seemed. That's tough to reproduce live without either extreme dynamics from everyone in the group (the band plays softly) or compression. If that was as OM7 or OM5 then you could likely get away with compression with less chance of feedback or unwanted "backline gak" than other microphones may give you.
                            www.nextexitrocks.com

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                            • #15






                              Quote Originally Posted by ChiroVette
                              View Post

                              Aged, am I wrong in assuming that compression on vocals, for the most part, is only necessary for singers who do a lot of screaming or harsh and loud singing?




                              Yes, you are incorrect.



                              Compression is also part of the sound of modern music. The sounds we associate with these genres are often not possible without heavy processing, no matter how good the singer or instrumentalist.



                              That said, as others have pointed out, it's quite easy to make things worse rather than better if you don't know what you're doing.



                              -Dan.
                              <div class="signaturecontainer"><i>Well, I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.</i></div>

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