Academy Dashboard Forum Production Recording Techniques Using dual compression on vocal recording

  • This topic has 9 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by Cris Sabater Sabater.
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  • #4146

      Hi Warren,

      Thanks for all the great tips and your relaxed and supportive way of explaining stuff. I really love it! Makes me think that everything is possible.

      Can you help me out with compression while recording vocals?

      I totally agree with you that I should get the best results during recording. But it is not working very well for me so far.

      I (intentionally) sing very, very dynamic and try to find a balance between warm, intimate verses with a lot of proximity effect and earthshattering, edgy chorusses using a lot of twang on my voice (think Save Me

      When I use no compression going in I set the gain on the preamp (Apollo Twin/1073 unison) low so I can really dig in the chorusses without distorting the input. It really gives me a happy feeling. But I loose the warmth in the verses because the gain is so low. So I tend to sing too loud in verses that need warmth and intimacy. Makes me not so happy.

      I was hoping to find the perfect balance using two compressors so I can deliver a great performance in one take without the hassle of doing multiple takes of different song parts.

      I've used this combination:
      1176 (1:4/fast attack/release/10db reduction) -> LA2A (compressor setting/3 db of reduction)

      Works great for the verses because it brings up the warmth of my voice. But on the load parts the compressor really chokes/muffles my voice so it loses the edge and makes me feel uncomfortable during singing.

      Can you help me out? Would love to see you explain how you use it with specific settings on differt voices.

      I'm also aware of the two different "schools". One saying that the fast compressor should be first to catch the peaks (1176) and the second to fatten up the tone (LA2A). The other saying that the slower comp should be first and the fast second to catch the peaks. I'm a bit lost on what's working.

      Thanks in advance for your help.



      Nick D.

        how I set up that chain is the 1176 first 4:1 slowest attack quickest release and on the loudest parts have 5-7dB reduction, the LA2A comes in next also about 1-3dB of reduction. The 1176 controls for attack and release are opposite of what you would think, fastest release is all the way clockwise, slowest attack is all the way counter clockwise. if the 1176 is setup properly it should give you an aggressiveness.

        if you feels its choking your voice then you may not have the 1176 setup quite right and might have the attack to fast and the release to long. If you are still having this issue, then I would recommend you do each part separately. do a track of softer parts with higher preamp gain and have a track of louder parts with lower preamp gain, and process them separately. the way you describe your vocals I wouldn't try to do all on one track, is that like expecting a metal guitar and acoustic guitar to sound the same by using the same recording chain.

        I don't have the Apollo but I feel like doing this ITB/with plugins isn't the same as using hardware in the recording chain, and involves how you gain stage the preamp to compressor to compressor. Peaks in the preamp gain might clip in the digital world but be prefect in the analog one when using this techniques. Its one of the few things that doesn't feel the same to me.


          Hi Thunderhouse

          Thanks for your detailed reply!

          Are you saying that the slowest attack on the 1176 is still fast enough for catching the peaks? Or is the 1176 purely for aggressiveness and not for taming the peaks?

          Very nice analogy with the guitars. I guess you are right. Somehow I suspected that there was a way of doing both things in one take. Would love to know how Warren did this during recording of the Save Me song.

          I cannot compare the hardware with the Apollo plugins, but of all plugins I've used the UAD ones really move me in a way that I can't explain very well. Maybe it is that illusive word "musical" that I hear producers use while gazing in the distance 🙂

          Thanks mate!


          Nick D.

            The slowest attack on the 1176 lets the initial transient through, but still very fast, the fast release is what gives it the aggressive feel. I think if your vocals seem choked then you are compressing too much of the transient, and not letting it recover quick enough. you don't want the 1176 to be doing constant gain reduction just catching some peaks and recovering fast. you can paly with the settings, but this is almost where I always leave them for vocals, and then adjust the preamp output and the 1176 input to get the desired gain reduction and what I want from the preamp. I don't have real 1176 or a real LA2A, but use the Warm Audio 76 and Chameleon labs 7802, with slow attack settings, trying to emulate how the LA2A works.

            I do have UAD plugins, they are great and im a big fan, I just do not have the Apollo interface, and I feel like its a different balance working in the analog vs putting plugins after the fact. I really think for me it has to do with how the preamp signal goes into the converter vs how I push the preamp before the compressor, which is harder for me to get right with vocals going straight in. Out of all the analog gear I had, the vocal chain was one that I couldn't equal ITB on a majority of vocals.

            I still think it may be a good idea to work with 2 different vocal styles on separate instances instead of trying to get all in one. Trying to do what you are doing on one track requires some good monitoring and excellent use of microphone skills to know when to back off the mic, and to hear what you are doing in real time, basically using your ears to know where you need to be and how distance affects your voice and when to push and pull your tone. I don't really have many pro singers coming in, and not everyone has a natural skill to understand the concepts of microphone use or do it well. It also seems natural for many when they want to be aggressive/ louder actually go towards the mic, instead of backing off. I think of hardcore/metal bands when I see them live, they will be signing a foot from the mic, then when they want to scream they stick it in their mouth, going from barely audible to +20dB input... Live engineering nightmare...

            • This reply was modified 8 years ago by Nick D..

              hi man,

              I've fiddled around with the settings you advised. And I am getting killer results!!!

              I've attached a screenshot of my tracking setup as I think it is next level shit 🙂

              I do all tracking with my Apollo Twin (as seen in a Produce like a pro video):
              - M-Audio Sputnik mic (as seen in a Produce Like a Pro video)
              - 1073 in unison mode on the mic input (set to record)
              - 1176 and LA2A on the insert slots (both set to record)
              - Kemper profiler via SP/dif into the Apollo Twin. Recording both DI and Amp
              - Fairchild 660 as an insert on the Kemper Amp channel to get get rid of that last bit of fizz (Warren's tip)
              - EMT 140 plate reverb on the aux channel (not set to record)

              There is NO latency....

              The result is an amazing full, warm and edgy vocal sound!!! Finally I'm getting inspired by my own singing. I knew that had to be possible 🙂

              Working with the Console 2.0 software is also a breeze. I'm always connected and can start playing and singing without starting up the ol DAW.

              Very interested in hearing a side by side comparison of the hardware and the Apollo plungins.

              Thanks again for the excellent tip Thunder House!!



              • This reply was modified 8 years ago by Justin.
              • This reply was modified 8 years ago by Justin.
              Nick D.

                I don't know how virtual preamps respond vs hardware, but if you want to add a little more grit, turn up the input gain (like Warren says "until it distorts, then go back one") then use the fader to adjust the level into the 1176 to get the proper gain reduction. I use a Vintech 573 (500 series 1073) in the same manner.


                  Working with the Apollo Twin, Unison Preamp and virtual compressor plug-ins (and no latency) gives you so much to experiment with. I got inspired by this YouTube video from HOFA. If you have them you could also try the Fatso in 'Tracking Mode' as a fast compressor and the Fairchild (at 50% Mix) to fatten things up.


                    I often use dual parallel compression with similar settings but I usually parallel at 37 percent with both compressors. Great thread!


                      Hi Tblizz,

                      Thanks for the tip! I will definitely try out the Fatso. Heard a lot of great things about it.

                      I watched the HOFA video. Three compressors!! O my, I feel dizzy 🙂

                      I'm still interested to hear from Warren how he sets his compressors (DBX160 followed by a 1176) and if he uses it all the time or on certain voices.



                      Cris Sabater Sabater

                        Hi guys, I saw the video and what he is doing is what Warren preaches to us all. Use a few instances of a plugin like a compressor but subtly each instance is bringing you closer to the final goal as opposed to using a single compressor and slamming it. Great video!

                        Cheers guys,


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