Vocal Mixing: How to Compress Your Vocals

The primary function of compressing vocals is to lower the dynamic range of a given record. With less distance between the quiet and loud sections, the full vocal can be brought up in level without clipping. Compression allows the vocals to sit more clearly in the mix and helps it to stand out. Reducing the dynamic range and allowing us to hear the low-level elements since their volume has been increased relative to the loud sections.

What is vocal compression?

Compression operates as a controlling device for the various dynamics of an instrument. Using a compressor, you can set up a threshold for the peak height of a signal’s amplitude. This means that any signal that extends above that threshold will be squished down. Engineers and producers utilize compressors on drums, for instance, due to their large dynamic range, or potential loudness. Vocal compression simply refers to the compression applied on a vocal track.

What Is A Compressor?

A compressor is a software (or hardware) plug-in that adjusts dynamics, it turns down the loud sounds and turns up the quiet ones. This may be immensely effective in smoothing out audio that fluctuates volume lots, makes a guitar performance even or helping compress a vocal recording.

How To Setup A Compressor? 

The compressor has a few features that are worth exploring, particularly when wanting to learn how to compress vocals.

So..

  • Threshold: The moment in signal volume when compression starts
  • Attack: is related to speed or how long it takes for the compressor to start working.

Tip: The attack setting on a compressor is critical (Slowing them down allow for the transient to come through before being clamped down)

  • Release: The speed it takes the compressor to return to its normal state (it is based mainly on the tempo of the song or the speed of performance)

How To Compress Vocals ?

Mastering vocal compression takes time and there are no specific methods for it but here a couple of TIPS to help you do it :

  1. First of all, try to level out some of the vocal levels with clip gain or a comparable method.
  2. Use a low ratio of around 3 or 4:1.
  3. Start lowering the threshold until you achieve some gain reduction
  4. Set release a fast release
  5. Set the attack as fast as possible then gently scale it down

Working with this initial degree of compression is a balancing act and will need a little adjusting. 
Enter the second Compressor.

2 Better Than 1

The first compressor in the chain is excellent to capturing and controlling any surges in gain. Enter compressor number 2 comes !!

By applying a slower, gentler compressor after the rapid one we’re able to manage the voice and smooth things out even more. A compressor like the LA-2A is perfect for this because to it’s shorter attack times and gentler approach to compression.

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