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

  • This topic has 6 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by James Gorman.
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    Brandon Novak

      I usually rely on the Waves vox rider and a couple compressors to do the heavy lifting on lead vox, but the latest PLAP mix has me in the trenches clip gaining and volume riding the lead vox. My question is what do people here usually do? I know clip gaining comes before plugins so that might be preferred in order to have a consistent signal hit your processing. On the other hand, I've seen Warren and others use the volume fader for rides and bus that track to one that has processing (essentially getting the same result?).


      Guido tum Suden

        Hi Brandon, I do something similar to you.

        First, if the parts have different volumes, I cut the tracks and change the levels of the individual regions.
        Then I often use the Vocal Rider though I always hope I don't have to. I'm most often too lazy to use automation.
        Next is a SSL style compressor with slow attack and release (e.g. 40 ms) to get an overall consistent level.
        Then I use the Fabfilter C2 as a very fast compressor to tame transients.
        Last is a typical vocal compressor (I often use Plugin Alliance Vertigo VSC-2 for that).
        All compressors are usually on 4:1 with the needle barely moving.


        Magnus Johansson

          You can also try to automate the Target Control ov the Vocal Rider. Has worked well for me whenever I have tried it.

          Brandon Novak

            Thank you very much for the tips!


              I do it in the same way as Guido describes, with the difference that my first compressor in the chain is the waves RCL. I also cut out all the breathings from the vocal track and move them on a separate track. On that track, I also insert the Waves RCL with a quite heavy compression factor of 8:1 or so, followed by a low-cut filter on +/- 300Hz. Usually, I give this track a bit more reverb than the vocal itself. This adds some air and "freshness" to the lead vocal.

              Michael B

                I do the same as Guido cutting and adjusting first. Then I use effects sends and choose pre or post send depending on situation. So I don't need to play with automating pre gain. I do adjust pre gain once per track to get the level low enough for the analog gear sim plugins and / or keeping my group busses happy with not too hot levels. Then I handle compression and eq at the group bus level. Then I autimate the vocal track volumes to bring out parts at specific times in the song to highlight a part. I'm still learning but that is my approach today. Cheers.

                • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Michael B.
                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.

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