Compressor Basics - Question On How To Setup

Hello. I am using the Tascam US1800 for my input device. My situation is that my wife is a powerful singer with a beautiful voice and carries a lot of volume behind it when she pours it out. We use Cubase LE5 for our live sets.

I check the clip light on the Tascam US1800 and make sure it is not clipping there at the source to begin with. I’m pretty sure you want the hottest signal at the source without clipping before going into the compressor… is this right?

Then I apply the compression with the VST Dynamic insert. I generally have started the compression at about -15db with a ratio of about 3:1 … but I have the output adjustment set to about +10db. I’m trying to bring out her soft spots in the singing, while keeping the maximum spots without clipping. Will the +10db of output gain help in this or hurt since she can sing very loud at times?

Should I set the threshold higher up and closer to 0db with more compression ratio? Maybe I am starting the threshold too low?

Also, Should I use the limiter with the compressor since she has a strong and powerful voice? If so should it be set to soft clip?

Does the limiter basically work as a backup to prevent any clipping from what the compressor could not handle?

I’ve read articles on compression but could always use some extra help on setting things up :slight_smile:

Any positive advice would be greatly appreciated as I desire to bring out the best sound using the standard Cubase LE5 dynamic plugins… thank you for helping and suggestions… Gary

If you have a highly dynamic source (going from quiet to very loud) and you need to reduce the dynamic to make it fit a lesser dynamic sound then the compression ratio would need to be set to a higher ratio than may be recommended in some general advice of vocal compressor settings.

Try going to 6:1 or more

A limiter could be used but I would only consider it for caching any momentary overs after compression and is generally not required if you leave headroom in the mix.

Sometimes I will use two differing type compressors on a vocal, first an optical type for the bulk of compression and then a fast compressor to catch any stuff that gets through.

Although a lot of people would recommend cutting, volume handles then compression and last automation.

Thank you for the suggestions. There is a lot to learn about compression and how to make it work, it took me a while to get our previous setup right, we had used a Boss BR1600 recorder and a DBX Compressor, but recently starting using cubase as the go to of live sets because of the VST instruments that we use and for the sake of not having to have so many external components to hook up by way of using the built in plugins. So many different variables to make the sound just right but it is all worth it in the end.

I suppose the best way to set this is to have her sing with intensity like she does and play with the compressor in real time to see how much it is compressing and what works the best. I just don’t want it to sound like I’m pumping the vocals to bring up the soft spots. Have super day! :slight_smile: Gary

Gary: You could still use your DBX Compressor with
Cubase 6 but probably not with Cubase Le5.
VST Connections in Cubase 6 has “External FX” which allows
a signal to be patched out of Cubase to Compressor. (out of your
Tascam US-1800–to DBX Compressor then back into your inputs
on your Tascam US-1800. I have a few Analog Compressors myself
that I’ve started using again since I upgraded to Cubase 6.
DBX Compressors were and still are great little units.

PS: I use cubase 6’s software compressors to

Don’t Hurt me now Steinberg :laughing: :laughing:

Jack :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Hi Jack. Thank you for your suggestion of using the DBX… it really is a good unit. I plan to upgrade to Cubase 6 … the US1800 does have the extra outputs on it to send to the DBX and I believe it can be done with LE5 and returned on another channel… we are travelling towards the next event and I did not pack the DBX on this trip… so I will have to make the stock cubase VST dynamic plugin work… I’m sure it will be fine… one of the big things that also helped our mix was the right amount of reverb that caused the vocal to smooth out in the mix better… so many many many variables to make it sound right for live sets and then you also have acoustics that change from place to place… but it is all worth it in the end when the sound is right on… :slight_smile: I am currently using the lexicon plugin for reverb… i like the variables it has to program it, though to make it sound like I wanted it took some time to figure out… our event is next weekend so I hope to post after next weekend and show the results of what the settings were for me… but it is always going to be different for each person… ha… have a super Memorial Day and be blessed… Gary