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If there is one instrument that greatly benefits from compression, it's the human voice. Most singers are unable to sing every word or line at the same level, so some words get buried as a result. Compression evens out the level differences so you can better hear every word. In this movie, I will show you how to set up the compressor to do just that. The first thing we're going to do is listen to the vocal just by itself, so we're going to solo it. (music playing) Now let's listen with the track.
(music playing) A couple of things. The first is that this track was already compressed when it was recorded, so it's fairly leveled already. Although towards the end of the turnaround in "never like this before," we start to lose some of the words there.
Another thing is you can hear a lot of sibilance, and that's an excessive amount of S's and that's because of the way it was compressed originally, but we'll talk about that in another movie and how to get rid of it. So what we're going to do is we're going to insert, once again, our generic compressor. Let's solo the vocal track, and let's set it up. Again, what we'll do is we'll take the attack and we'll set it all the way as long as it will go and we'll bring that back until we just about get rid of the transient. As soon as we hear the lead vocal begin to dull and the S's go away, then we know we've gone too far.
Let's listen to this. (music playing) So you can hear, that's too much already, because we're not hearing any S's. (music playing) We're just hearing the very, very, very tip of it. Let's bring it back. (music playing) That sounds pretty good right there.
Now let's set the amount of compression. Once again what we're trying to do is even out the peaks so we hear all the words pretty much evenly. (music playing) The next thing we want to do is when we use the compressor, we attenuated the vocal a little bit, so we lost some of the levels.
So now we're going to use the Gain control and Bypass control to make sure we get that level back. (music playing) That's about right there. (music playing) Now let's listen in the track. (music playing) So now you can hear those words as we get towards the end of the verse on the turnaround.
You can hear them a little more clearly. Probably what we'll have to do is ride that vocal a little bit, and that's not uncommon, to either automate it or just ride it with fader a little bit because the compressor can't get everything out, but it can get a lot of it, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make it sound fairly good, in your face, and even, and then the rest we do with fader automation and riding the faders a little bit. So to sum it up, we use compression on a vocal because it evens out the level of differences so you can better hear every word. Start with the attack and release set so it breathes with the track, then adjust Threshold and Ratio controls for the right amount of compression.
Remember that too much compression can cause sibilance and make the vocal sound unnatural.
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