Mixing Vocals Using Compressor Sends

Mixing Vocals Using Compressor Sends

After watching the latest episode of Pensado’s Place, the interview with Michael Brauer inspired me to try out some new vocal compression techniques. I implemented Michael’s multi-buss compression technique a while back, in which I use buss compression based on the role of a group of instruments – hopefully I will expand on this later.

Today, instead of using one, two, or three compressors on the vocal in serial, I tried out using 5 different compressors in parallel. This is extremely easy to do in Reaper, and once it is set up, the template can be used and tweaked on a per session basis. This is how I have my template set up:

  1. Set up a vocal track, create 5 pre-fader/post insert sends to 5 new aux tracks.
  2. Insert a compressor on each aux track. Work in a variety of ‘flavors,’ most likely including 1176, LA-2A, LA-3A, Fairchild, Cl-1B, RS124 etc…
  3. Solo each compressor to set the desired threshold and attack/release for the song.
  4. On the main vocal track, I make my EQ cuts and filters along with de-essing so the signal I’m feeding the compressor is clear of that junk.
  5. Create a new Vocal Sub group (folder) which contains all of the previous tracks. On this track I can use additive EQ and further processing if needed.
  6. While playing the song, blend the dry and compressed vocal tracks to get the desired tone and feeling – may end up using a few or all of the compressors.
  7. Control the final vocal level with the vocal sub group and create spacial sends from this track.

Of course in Reaper, you can also insert all of the compressors onto one track and use the wet/dry knob to get a similar effect – I just find it easier using faders.

I always like trying out new techniques, so I’m looking forward to implementing parallel vocal compression on upcoming mixes to see how it works out.


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