What's a good compression setting for a vocal with lots of highs and lows?


New member

I'm illiterate when it comes to audio processing using a software. Can anybody give me a good Compression setting (Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Release, Gain, etc.) for a singing vocal track that has lots of dynamics (very loud at times and whispers at some)?

Compression will get rid of all those dynamics, you know! If you want to tame them a bit, try a ratio setting of 1.75:1 or 2:1; if you want to make the vocal track sound completely monotone, crank the ratio to 10:1, it's as simple as that.

The other controls (except for attack/release, which you should leave at the default settings) are totally dependent on the actual level of the signal and you'll have to play with them.
In playing with the software compressor that came with Vegas Pro, I've gotten an idea of what you mean about the threshold value being dependent on the signal level you're starting out with. When looking at a Sound Forge XP display of a wave, two envelopes pop right out at you; the highest peak and the general peak level for the entire piece. Is there any formula for where within this region the sweet spot for the threshold value would be?
Or if not, is it at least closer to one or the other?
I once read to think of compression as a little man making many volume changes for you, the once that don't want to be bothered with. For vocals, I like to start off with a 2:1 ratio with the quickest attack and release (or just put it on auto). Then staring at unity (zero) of the threshold, slowly decrease the setting until the vocal track's high low volumes sound closer to the mix of the song (you may not want them totally equal to each other). You may loose some volume when you decrease the threshold. If this happens, simply increase your output gain to compensate the loss.
I just want to clarify in my previous message, that the two things that you might not want totally equal, is the high and lows of your track.

I agree with Dragon, you will most likely want to keep some dynamics of your track, so you might want to be careful not to overcompress your material.