How to Mix: Vocal Compression

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How to Mix: Vocal Compression


30 Jan, 2023


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One of the most important aspects of mixing vocals is compression. Compression helps to regulate levels, and can be used as a creative effect to enhance or reduce sustain. This article will show you how vocal compression works, and provide some tips for using it in your mixes.

Mixing vocals is an art form that takes patience and practice to master. One of the most important aspects of this process is vocal compression. Compression helps to regulate levels, and can be used as a creative effect to enhance or reduce sustain. This article will show you how vocal compression works, and provide some tips for using it in your mixes.

When compressing vocals, you want to make sure that the compressor is set up correctly. The following are some basic settings that you should use:

  • Threshold - The threshold determines when the compressor starts working. You want to set this so that only the louder parts of the vocal signal are compressed.

    Ratio - The ratio determines how much compression is applied. A higher ratio will result in more compression, while a lower ratio will result in less compression.

    Attack time - This setting controls how quickly the compressor reacts to the signal. You want to set it so that the compressor doesn't react too quickly, or else you'll end up with a choppy vocal sound.

    Release time - This setting controls how quickly the compressor releases its compression after the signal falls below the threshold. You want to set it so that the compressor doesn't release too quickly, or else you'll end up with a sustained vocal sound.

Once you have these settings in place, experiment with different values until you find what works best for your mix. Here are some tips for using compression on vocals:

  • Use light compression for subtle leveling and control. A low ratio (around .50) and quick attack time (.05 seconds) will work well for this purpose.

    Use moderate compression for vocals that sound too dynamic. A low ratio (around .50) and a medium attack time (.05-.20 seconds) will work well for this purpose.

    Use heavy compression to add sustain, create more tension in the vocal performance, or reduce dynamics on overly dynamic material. A high ratio (above .80), slow attack time (.30+ seconds), and fast release time (.15 +seconds) will work best with these types of signals. With very loud peaks you may need even longer attack times — use your ears! As always, if it sounds right...it is right!

Common Asked Questions:

  1. Which parameter determines how quickly the compressor reacts? The attack time.

    What do higher ratios result in? More or less compression depending on how high the ratio is set.

    Vocal mixing is an art form — what does this mean for the average listener? This means that it takes patience and practice to get vocals sounding just right.

    How do I know when to use light compression and when to use heavy compression? You'll need to experiment with different values until you find what works best for your mix. As always, if it right...it is right!