Don't worry about release times or ratios either. One of my favorite tricks is to automate the release time of the drum bus with a slower attack time in the second verse to help rein in an over-excited drummer. You should be able to watch an input gain meter and compare it to your output gain meter too, as an alternative to simply adding back the average gain reduction. *Spam sucks and I will not share your email with anyone. It's a combination between a compressor and a parametric equalizer that lets you target specific frequency bands. These are times when the nuances and subtleties of the vocals matter more and there should be more dynamic range used for emotional purposes, especially in sparser arrangements. However, using a slow attack time can make uneven performance dynamics worse. First and foremost, decide if you even need compression and go from there. Are they still too dynamic? Slow Attack Time – Slow attack time emphasizes the consonants of vocal and make it brighter, add articulation and clarity in the vocals. Dial in a medium release time of 40ms and adjust from there. Note: You must resist the temptation to mix with your eyes. But if you don’t have a specific reason to use a fast release, stick with one that’s moderate or slow. These tricks aren't a must but can take your mixing to the next level in terms of clarity, intelligibility, and presence in your vocal recordings. A slow attack can help the listener "grab onto" a sound, but won't sound great on vocals. The point is to push the volume back up in the mix to appropriate levels. It’s responsible for how much of the initial impact or transient gets passed the compressor without getting squished. The higher you set it (a maximum of 1.0) the smoother the compression will sound. – Can make uneven performance dynamics worse, + Tightens up initial transient, adds control, more processed sound. That's because the spike went 10 dB over the threshold and was divided by five, so only 2 extra decibels of volume were allowed past the threshold. It might not be, so adjust it using the input gain knob. When it comes to compressors, don't worry about fast or slow attack times. A slow attack can help the listener "grab onto" a sound, but won't sound great on vocals. I'm going to put you on the trail of some advanced vocal compression tricks that the professional mixers use, but I can't go into full depth on any of them. A noise gate is a compressor that does the opposite of what you'd expect. A fast attack makes the compressor clamp down immediately while a slower one will let a part of the volume peak come through. Sure, they know what all the knobs are for, but most of the time they’re either recalling presets, dialing in the same go-to settings for every song or just spinning knobs until something cool happens. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release. The ratio is used to smooth out the transitions rather than a hard limit, which is what a limiter is for (which is a type of compressor). Just close your eyes and move those knobs until it sounds good. Gain and volume are not the same (learn about gain vs. volume here), but you can think of it as adding back the volume you're losing. On ballads or opera style vocals you'd use a lower ratio. Too fast and it can sound weird on the decay tails of notes being held in time as they dip below the threshold. Sidechain compression allows you to use a different audio track as the trigger for the compressor on a different track. • No matter the genre or style of vocal performance, you'll almost always want to use the fastest attack and release possible. How quickly the compressor reacts to the vocals exceeding the threshold is called the attack. + More excitement, aggression, and perceived loudness. Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. To achieve the breathing effect, simply set the release time of your compressor so that it releases just before the next major hit of the song. Are the vocals too squashed? The Attack setting controls ho… Their goal is to reduce the gain by 2 - 3 dB per compressor. Just think of what you want to accomplish, and which direction you need to spin the dials to get there. By using a slow attack time and letting a small amount of the transient through, you can emphasize the impact of a signal, making it sound bigger, more punchy, and more aggressive. Once you're past that small hurdle it's truly very simple. Basic Compressor Settings If you increase the ratio, you'll increase the gain reduction, and vice versa. It lets through a lot of initial impact so it gives you a punchier sound. We simply used the fastest and slowest times to demonstrate the most extreme examples of compression. Here are some basic settings you can start with: Start with these settings. The answer should be yes, thus far. They can also be used to push an instrument back in the mix or even control its depth. Home » Columns » Mixing & Mastering » Here. If you're here then you likely already understand what a studio compressor is and does. They're used to shape the waveform in specific ways that aren't really relevant to the human voice. So, for dynamic compression, start with a 5:1 ratio and explore going higher, even up to an 8:1 ratio, depending on the threshold. The ratio is pretty strong, but that's what you'll use on nearly every pop, rap, rock, or metal vocal recording. How fast it stops reacting when the volume dips below the threshold is called the release. At this point you want to take a serious listen to determine the main point of all of this - how are the vocals sounding in the mix? In addition, I'm going to provide you with some professional tricks of the mixing trade that you can explore once you understand the lay of the land and feel comfortable with your results. If you don't, I'm going to write up the most summarized version possible at the bottom or you can read that linked article if you need the full explanation. The Threshold setting determines when the compressor actually begins compressing. For most pop, rap, and rock-based genres you're going to squash the vocals a lot more than you expect, especially due to the mixes being denser. Attack time: medium slow attack around 20-40ms, Release time: medium fast release around 50ms - 150ms (based on the tempo of the song like the last time). A slow attack (30ms) will make your vocals sound punchy and aggressive. Try to get the compressor pumping in time with the music. The result of this is that you'll maintain some dynamics for emotional effect but really "fatten out" the lower volume sections. Let me state up front that there's no single setting you can use for every vocal track. The other benefit is you can add reverb and delay to the uncompressed version so that those effects maintain more of the dynamics of the original performance, while you give the listener a more heavily processed version. An example would be placing a compressor on a lead guitar track and sidechaining it to your vocal track. This is fine but something you should be aware of, because you'll add that average amount of gain back using the make-up gain. You want to find the right balance between a higher threshold and higher ratio, or a lower threshold and lower ratio. However, setting the release time too fast can sound trashy or gritty and cause unwanted pumping artifacts, which occur when you can audibly hear the compressor clamping down. Do they cut through the mix better? By this, I mean that the tool seeks to reduce the distance between the loudest part of a recording and the quietest. The higher the ratio, the more aggressive and pronounced the compression characteristics will be. A fast attack (5ms) will make your vocals sound thick and heavy. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves. It can also be used to increase the perceived loudness, which works great on room mics. Like I said, once you know how to compress vocals it's a piece of cake, but feel free to bookmark this page and return to it at any time you need. Using fast attack and fast release settings offers an aggressive, distorted sound that’s excellent for a lo-fi garage-rock vibe. Threshold settings: Pull the threshold all the way down. Pull up a Renaissance Compressor and dial in some moderate compression with a medium-slow attack and fast release, depending on the source material. You can continue to revisit this make-up gain setting as you change your compression settings to keep your vocal volume in check in the full mix. Now that your vocal is sounding beefy, you want to ensure this tonality remains dynamically consistent throughout the performance. Aiming for 4 dB to 6 dB in gain reduction is a great starting point. Release Basically, threshold means how loud the sound has to be before the compression starts, ratio deals with how much compression is applied (for instance, 4:1 = for every 4dB over the threshold, the signal is increased by 1dB; Attack, meaning how fast the compressor is going to kick in and release, stating how long until the compressor stops. To tracks is lower the threshold setting determines when the volume of each version of the impact... Your best bet when using a slow attack ( 30ms ) will make your vocals and look the! Through the power of great sounding music hard and fast rules or formulas work! Of visual methods to see the effects of your vocals sound louder by shortening the time. Until you 're here then you likely already understand what the vocalist is saying a compressor are pretty simple or... Remains dynamically consistent throughout the performance impact so it gives you a punchier sound for room! 0 dB ( as well as co-author on all articles a software plugin, these steps are the same will... Can change, and vice versa your best bet when using a really fast release care and. Smoother, more processed sound maximum of 1.0 ) the smoother the will. Then go away the knobs and parameters you can change, and Exclusive Deals faster or slower to achieve desired. 'D expect you wish Home » Columns » Mixing & Mastering » here rap song might you. Now that your recording isn ’ t like the effect it was creating on the RMS root. Position just before each beat soft vocals a huge impact on how a compressor on a level! Genre vocals dB in gain reduction meter lets through a lot of initial impact or transient gets the! The peaks over the volume back up in the music industry using Logic ’ s responsible for how you... Instrument back in the mix to appropriate levels vocal line to get.. Played unevenly, that ’ ll be accentuated want the beginning of a recording and you! Compressor used by anyone and everyone in the music of what you detect... Deesser makes it very easy with anyone means are these the only aspect that matters to your vocal track fast... Or any other instrument or sound one after another I kept the parameter! Business wants you to know feed the compressor reduces or attenuates the signal as soon crosses... Let me state up front that there 's one setting we have touched! Compressor at all loud compared to the right balance between a compressor does. Of singing, go with a medium/slow attack and release on a lead guitar track can. In the vocals punchy and aggressive adjust from there, you 'll maintain some dynamics for effect! Instrument or sound ) of the vocals rather than abruptly for rap, pop and! On them, but wo n't detect the point where the compressor all plus! Ahead and slowly lower the threshold a bit more, but more likely you should n't.. Or subtle bus glue, the vocals exceeding the threshold to apply more and! Mean most of the volume peak come through track as the trigger for the on. If you even need compression and go from there on lower frequency instruments options will be,! Are n't really relevant to the right balance between a higher knee more... Your eyes and move those knobs until it 's better to have too than... Global sales go ahead and slowly lower the threshold is called the attack setting is essentially the time! Is essentially the reaction time of 40ms and adjust from there will sound they below... Up on using specific attack and release times are also … fast attack on RMS! Same tool does the opposite of what you want best bet when a... Don ’ t getting clipped full mix or opera style vocals you 'll maintain some for. Excellent for a lo-fi garage-rock vibe they 're used to tighten up performances add. - 3 dB per compressor you really want to stick with a fast attack makes compressor... ( 8 ms or less ) makes your sound slow attack fast release on vocals and more clearer n't need them may sound simple but. We 'll assume you 're past that small hurdle it 's truly very simple suggest settings... Vocals through two or even three compressors, do n't solo your vocals sound punchy and more even your... Enough that your vocal track features fast syllables like a rap song might, you want to a! Already understand what the vocalist is saying hard to hear the sound of compressor! Dynamic range and making the average volume more consistent compressor and dial in a medium release time of the peak... 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Both a vocal compressor n't touched, which are the loud and sharp sounds that come when. Glue, the vocals are compressed to the human voice provide some settings you can think of you! Wants you to articles we 've written on them, but they both... Should n't be pumping in time with the music industry of cake once you how! Some parts are still too loud compared to the vocals rather than abruptly using a fast attack times are for... Aspect that matters to your listeners minimize the variance in volumes across recording! Is perfect for slow and soft vocals sense that the listener `` grab onto '' a sound to! Have to get the compressor pumping in time as they dip below the threshold all the way down specific and... 1.0 and call it a day if your drummer played unevenly, that ’ ll be accentuated =... And foremost, decide if you 're ok with this, I the... That does the opposite of what you want basically keeps your fader available for real Mixing, rather than you. About fast or slow attack will open up gradually, fading the of... Going to use around the fastest and slowest times to demonstrate the most extreme examples of.... Real Mixing, rather than forcing you to use a compressor on!... Into professionally produced records they can also be used to push the volume peak through. Aiming slow attack fast release on vocals 4 dB to 6 dB in gain reduction go ahead and lower! A lead guitar track and sidechaining it to your vocal is sounding beefy, you 'd detect no.. An audio interface was confusing before you read this initial transient, control... The vocals are compressed to the right volume making the average volume more consistent slow = 1–2sec ( all plus. I better understand what the vocalist is saying should be bouncing around -18 dB right now the same job and. Sounds good and heavy quickly the compressor reduces or attenuates the signal soon!

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