Compression on a vocal
Last week we had an introduction to audio compression. Today let's take a look at why you might add compression to vocals!
For speaking vocals, I rarely use any compression. The main reason for this is that you will lose some of the dynamics and if you are not careful it can make them sound very unnatural. On the other hand, for singing vocals, I love being able to use compression! If I have a console that will allow me to, I like to do two stages of compression. For the first stage, I like to use compression as more of a soft limiter (somewhere in the 7:1-10:1 ratio) with a pretty high threshold. Most of the purpose of that compressor is to trim the loudest part of the vocal. Then I use a second compressor to “squish” the rest of the vocal a little bit (Ratio 2:1-3:1, a medium threshold (3-6db) ) and to make-up a little bit of gain to keep my gain structure correct. My main goal, as with any compression is to try and get the vocal more consistently coming out of a PA or on a stream. But, this doesn’t mean that it’s always the right choice! Sometimes adding a compressor to a singing vocal or adding too much compression can make a vocal feel un-natural or thin. So, use with caution and always mix with your ears and not your eyes!
Trevor- Lambda Audio Visual Sound Engineer
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