Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Clip gain or volume rides on vox Reply To: Clip gain or volume rides on vox

James Gorman

    A way to look at when to ride, pre or post compression, is what do you want your compressor to do?

    If you ride pre compression (clip gain, pre automation, inserts) you can get even out the effect of the compressor. Originally loud and quiet parts will be effected the same, given more even compression artefacts.

    If you let it through as is, the louder parts will be hit harder, with more compression artefacts than the quieter bits.

    I tend towards favouring the latter as it help express the dynamics in the performance, rather than homogenising them. This is a taste judgement though, not absolute. If the dynamics are because the singer has poor mic control, then emphasising this is probably not a great idea 🙂

    If you want to get fancy, you could ride before between and after compressors, but that is getting into super detailing, but would emulate the console->tape->console->tape workflow if it was a straight to digital recording.

    I'm finally settling on something like this (ignoring EQ and effects) for lead vocals:
    - normalise things. CLA likes to be able to bring up his faders to unity and have a rough mix so would hate this (OK, probably not, but he is quite strident in his opinions). I like to now what signal I'm putting into my chain. Horses of courses. I use -4dbs as a start.
    - chop up parts. If the vocal parts are sufficiently different I'll treat each independently. This makes all the next stuff easier to think about with less automation.
    - buss things together, usually track -> part buss -> vocal buss. This makes glueing groups easier, but means I can glue different parts differently.*
    - first up with a tape model to do some soft clipping to tame the worst of the transients
    - set compressor, attack timed to the rhythm if the song. Here I'm trying to get some control of level, but mostly looking for groove, how well the vocal rhythms play with the rest of the song, does it have the right energy.**
    - listen for stuff that sounds bad, or could be better, and clip gain. Breaths up or down, over-loud and over-quiet phrases up and down. This is not to correct the level, that comes later, but to correct the compression artefacts and make the vocal coherent with respect to them. I do it in this order because (a) I'm lazy and if there's not much to do here I'm happy, (b) I like to discover and play with the artefacts.***
    - lop off transients, glue in with the backing vocals, de-essing, dynamic EQs, parallel compression, etc***
    - maybe clip gain again
    - mix most of the song until it's time for rides
    - do my post fader rides (on the lead, backing and vocal buss) to keep the vocals present and emphasise the mood (things like phrases, words and even syllables up and down)

    This is presented in a very linear fashion. In reality it can be a lot more fluid depending on how things go. For instance I may clip gain stuff that is obviously too loud or quiet up front.

    * I use folders in reaper for this, so get it for free from organising the tracks
    ** I used to be a drummer so I possibly over emphasise the need for a rhythmic lead parts...
    *** in the real, these may be chains of 2-4 compressors from track to buss, each doing a few dB, much like Guido. Commonly I have 2 compressors on leads, one one backing, then another on the vocal buss.