Recording - May 2013 - 26

these frequencies (and some of their
neighboring ones) around and potentially
creating other problems in the process.
Too much salt or pepper can’t be easily
undone, and putting off some eq decisions until after tracking helps us get the
seasoning just right. It also provides a
clear path “back to square one”, in case
we wander too far away from the point at
which we started mucking about in the
first place.
Compression is another wonderful tool
fraught with potentially damaging side
effects. A compressor reduces the difference between the loudest and softest portions of your signal. One of the main benefits of using compression is that you can
place your vocal much higher in the mix
without having it jump out at the listener.
The right amount just sounds “mo’ better”.
but too much of this good thing can
squeeze all of the life right out of a performance.
At first, using a compressor can feel
about as intuitive as flying a helicopter!
There are several parameters that need to
be set and each of them affects the others: Input Gain brings your signal to the
optimal level where the compressor can
see it. Threshold is the point at which the
compressor starts to do its work. Think of
it like the height line at amusement-park
attractions: everything above this line
gets on the ride, everything below it
remains unaffected.
Ratio controls how much you attenuate
the signal, once it rises above the threshold. A ratio of 2:1 means that for every
2d B of volume increase above the threshold, the perceived volume increase is only
1 dB. A ratio of 4:1 signifies an even
more drastic reduction in volume,
because for every 4 dB jump in volume,
it’s being heard as a 1 dB jump.
Considering that 3 dB is essentially twice
as loud as 1 dB, a ratio of 3:1 renders
your peaks half as loud as they would be
without compression. Compression ratios
of 10:1 or more (up to infinity:1) are actually called limiting, creating a ceiling
above which the signal never rises; this is
usually used in mastering to prevent digital overloads that cause loud distortion,
but has musical uses as well.
26

RECORDING May 2013

Attack is the time it takes for the compression to kick in. This controls the amount of
transients you’re allowing to pass though before turning down (or attenuating) the signal. Slightly longer attacks allow the initial smack of a drum or pluck of a bass string
to get through before the body of the note is compressed, giving a feeling of more
“punch”, while shorter ones can smooth over plosives and spittiness in a vocal.
Release defines how quickly the compressor “lets go” of the signal, returning it to its
normal state. You may have heard of compressors exhibiting “pumping” or “breathing”. This refers to the volume constantly rising up at the end of notes, as the compressor releases the signal. Slower release times make this anomaly less noticeable,
but a fast release can be used at quicker tempos.
There are two basic types of compression knees, which are labeled simply enough
“soft” and “hard”. Hard knees are easier to explain, in that they work pretty much as
I’ve described to this point; everything above the threshold gets squashed by the
amount you’ve set your ratio to. Unfortunately, this can be less “musical” sounding than
a soft knee compression slope. Soft knee means that the dividing line between compression and no compression is rounded off, so that compression comes in at a lower
ratio right near the threshold. This makes for a less noticeable effect upon the signal.
Used on vocals, the net result might be described as more “natural” sounding.
Finally, Output (or Makeup) Gain simply takes your effected signal and turns it back
up to an optimal level. Since compression lowers overall signal levels, makeup gain
assures that your signal’s as loud, on average, coming out of the compressor as it was
going in.

FIG 2
De-Essing is a related form of this effect; it’s a form of sidechain compression, which
affects only a narrow frequency band. De-essers are usually set between 4–9 kHz to
combat excessive sibilance (‘S’, ‘Sh’, and ‘T’ sounds). As useful as this is, it’s also
advisable to skip this step during tracking, as it is very easy to overdo it and end up
giving your vocalist an unwanted lisp. I generally wait until mixing to employ this
effect. A great ‘old-school’ solution is to attach a pencil to the front of the mic with a
rubber band, at the center of the diaphragm (see Figure 3). This can work wonders on
taming those pesky ‘hot spots’, while retaining the sonic character of your mic.
Many manufacturers include preamps, eq and compressors housed within a single
unit. These are commonly called recording channels. This all-in-one approach streamlines and simplifies the vocal chain, reducing the amount of time spent patching cables
and tweaking parameters. Great examples of these are the PreSonus Eureka and
Studio Channel, Universal Audio’s 6176 and the Joemeek oneQ2.



Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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