5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: Vocal Compressor Options

| 5 Minutes To A Better Mix, Audio Example, Mixing, Plugins, Pro Tools, Tips, Video

Part 22 of 31 – Part of growing as a mix engineer is developing your tastes. Today I want to give you permission to spend 10 minutes or so auditioning and comparing some different compressors on your lead vocal so you can form an informed opinion.

Every Compressor Sounds Different

Did you know that not every compressor plugin sounds the same? In fact, most compressors will bring some slight tonal nuance to your track that is different from the rest of the pack. It pays to spend some time comparing your compressors to see which sounds best on your tracks.


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19 Responses to “5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: Vocal Compressor Options”

  1. Andy

    This is great. So simple, and so obvious I would never think to do this! Doh! I will now though.

    Thanks Graham, keep ’em coming, mate.

  2. Jem

    Hi Grahame, I don’t wish to sound like a hater, because I really love and appreciate what you are doing here, its just that some of us, for varying reasons don’t have access to the SSL or Waves plug ins that you are using.
    Would it not be better to show the techniques you are putting across on some freeware options? Viewers could be under the impression that expensive plug ins are the answer to their needs, which I know is not where you are coming from. If everyone has access, without outlay to the same tools, then you are explaining a concept as opposed to possibly ‘plugging’ a product. I know you are not doing that but, same tools in everybodys hands.
    Much respect and thanks to you.

    • Andy

      Good point, Jem, but isn’t the point to try your own compressors (freeware, stock or any other) rather that the specific ones being demo’d here?

    • Matt

      The Waves plugins and SSL are pretty ubiquitous and I think are a reasonable choice to speak to the largest number of people. Not that I’m condoning it, but the Waves bundle is easily pirated online… again, not condoning, just saying that adds to their ubiquity. Also, I think the principles are more important here than the specifics.

    • Graham Cochrane

      Hi Jem,

      I used a combination of paid and stock compressors in this video. The point isn’t which compressors, it’s that all compressors sound different.

      I don’t use any freeware plugs. Just the stock stuff in Pro Tools and a few 3rd party plugs that I’ve collected over the years.


    • unknown

      Jem, you can download waves plugin bundles from torrent sites…. its very easy, you just need a bit torrent client (ex. Azureus Vuze) and Peerblock.

  3. Devon graves

    I always find myself coming to one of two choices. The LA-2A is great for a melodic vocal where the goal is to smooth out the dynamics and set it sit better in the mix. Kind of a no brainer when it comes to setting. For a more aggressive sound (would work for rap, which I do not do, but also really good to get a vocal to really cut with some bite) I like an 1176LN with a slow attack at 4:1. Both analog and plug ins in either case work for this. One day I will patch in my dbx 160x and give that a try. Some big name guys use the 160 and 1176 at 20:1 in tandem. I find though that I can do just about everything I need with only the LA-2A and 1176.

  4. Gary

    Hi Graham,
    Good tip dude. Just wondering how you keep the tree plugin windows open simultaneously?
    Keep up the good work ; )

    • Graham

      Hold SHIFT and click on the other plugins. Or click on the red target icon on the top right of the plugin window.

  5. Sasha

    “Not that I’m condoning it, but the Waves bundle is easily pirated online.”
    Why are you even saying this then if you are not condoning, or at least encouraging it?
    Software developers have to put food on their tables as much as anyone.



  1.  5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: Vocal Compressor Options (Recording Rev) | therecordinghomepage
  2.  What’s The Point Of Compression In Your Mix? | It's Studio Time
  3.  9: Use of Dynamics on Vocals – Research and listening | seanwilson5515
  4.  The Studio Detox: Uninstalling Plugins You Don’t Need | The Recording Revolution

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