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Thread: Can using a compressor while tracking w/mic enhance unwanted noises?

  1. #11
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    This is one of my reasons for not doing it, because my room is not perfect, and to be honest, I don't like what compressors do to the sound of a singer. I find it difficult to predict how it will appear in a mix I've not started. I've two issues. First is the increase in breathing noises compressors produce. I know I can cure most with eq, but I'd rather have eq choice for the voice not reducing what I consider as errors. In my room, compressors also reveal background noise. Not just continuous noise, but foot noise are sometime keyboard sounds as I do quite a bit simultaneously with pressing buttons or foot switches etc. What I want is the cleanest sound I can sort out later. I want best capture. Best, as in sonically the highest quality. I have to treat any form of in the machine or external processing as an effect, and while I understand other people's need to do this, I don't subscribe to it at all. I have never found a case for accepting compromise, and pre-record processing is a compromise I cannot do. I have archive stuff of my work going back to 1976 and it's paid the bills but the difference between the earliest recording I have and the latest is noise. Tape and equipment hiss in my case. I'd love to have the original individual tracks in a hiss free recording. I don't think I even had a compressor until the mid 80s, and teaching in college in the 90s dictated students using them, and a huge number could not hear them working. Going from the highest to the lowe ratio on a track left many clueless. I'm not sure if the few who were positive they could hear the difference between twenty degrees on the knob could hear it or just thought they could.

  2. #12
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    a good engineer should know how to use a compressor properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GONZO-X View Post
    a good engineer should know how to use a compressor properly.
    I agree, but sometimes that means pressing the bypass button. I like to get the final compression on vocals while checking them in the mix. On things I'm really familiar with I'll hit them a little on the way in. For performers I'm not so familiar with I prefer not to compress during tracking.

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    I simply fail to understand how I can set a compressor accurately, before I've recorded other tracks, and as I usually do double tracking on many projects, I cannot predict how much compression the prominent tracks need to have till I have the recipe. To me, this is like adding seasoning in a recipe, before I've been to the shops and seen what food is on the shelves. That, I think is how good engineers work - making the mix and blend as good as you can and never being in the position of wishing I'd recorded it differently.

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    I often add salt and spices to what I'm cooking at an early phase of preparing the meal. But it's generally because I've prepared meals like that before and I know what will be needed. That said, I'll probably be sure not to overdo the flavorings it so I can fine tune it toward the end.

    When compressing on the way in I'll use a high-ish threshold and a moderate ratio. The band I record regularly uses the studio for rehearsals, so I get lots of practice setting compressors. That's just a fundamentally different situation from recording a band I don't know well. That's when I bypass compressors and eq.

    I'm pretty sure a lot of engineers process things while tracking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesfordan View Post
    here I am worrying about using mic shields because of my untreated room. I've recently have become a believer in using compression before hitting the audio interface when I go direct. The improvement of my recorded sound has been significant. However, I have these beautiful sounding amps that I really would like to capture. Yes, I know about devices like the Waza Tube Amp Expander but that's a pretty penny I'm not able to drop at this time.

    I want to try to mic my amps, untreated room be damned. If I use a shield, a moving blanket or stuffed chair et al, will compressing the mic signal also enhance the stuff I don't want i.e. room noise? I sort of suspect it would
    Absolutely YES!

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    Judging by what I've read of pro engineers....some compress going in....and some don't. And there's shades of grey in between the two.

    In other words...try it for yourself and then decide what you wanna do.
    I really...really...REALLY have no idea what I'm talking about...AT ALL.

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    The word "compressor" kinda says it all when looked at in context.

    Use of one when tracking a source is always going to be a matter of choice with any engineer. Part of the beauty of doing so is to have several different flavors of compressor to choose from.

    Each type of compression delivers a different footprint even though in theory, the function is the same. The architecture in the design has a lot to do with how the compression is applied to the signal and what it's effect will be on it when hitting the DAW/Tape/etc....

    I do understand the desire to capture an 'unaffected' signal. It does leave your options open to future interpretations and maybe for some, this is a good thing.

    One thing I have found in compressors is sonic fidelity can vary a lot and unfortunately, this is one of those hardware things that doesn't seem to allow for cheap builds having the same fidelity as the more expensive ones. That's not to say there aren't GREAT budget comps out there, you just have to understand what a unit is capable of and use it according to it's abilities. I do find that a lot of the budget hardware comps are simply less capable of a wide range of application on different sources and therefore are more of the 'one-trick-pony' syndrome. Not that it's a bad thing..........Having a hardware comp that you know without a doubt anytime you strap it up in a signal chain it's going to add to the palette without fail, is something to keep.

    In my business, I always comp vocals going in....ESPECIALLY on clients I have little or no experience recording or they have no experience working a mic. In that way I will have a an even level playing field for the next step in the process. I do not always comp a guitar amp going in unless the player has poor picking technique. In which case, again, the comp is a tool more than a sonic choice for a vibe.

    Having a variety of different comps is the secret to finding the right tool. And also there's a reason why some of the circuits developed in the 40's 50's and 60's are still the go-to choices for recording to day. Either hardware or digital emulations. Even with a good sized library like I have, I find that nothing really sounds better than 1176, LA2A, Manley Vari-Mu, DBX, SSL G, Fairchild.........
    Chord with this, Teddy......

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