Mixing Pop Vocals with Waves CLA76 + Waves CLA2A

What’s up, guys? Welcome to another video this week.

In this one, I wanted to talk about vocals in Pop music, and then even more specifically, I wanted to talk about compression within — on those vocal tracks.

Pop music is very compressed, it’s very in your face. It hits hard. This is a technique I’ve seen several guys on the web talk about. This is my take on it.

Basically, what we’re going to do is we’re going to use two compressors to do the job of one compressor, rather than have one compressor smash the hell out of the track and mangle it up really bad, you can sort of split the work between two different plug-ins — two boxes.

So I’ve got a scratch vox track here, it sounds like this.

[mix]

Right. Okay. A little pop vocal, working on a tune.

So EQ or whatever, and then I’m running into two chains of compressors — or two different compressors, rather, however you want to think about it.

We’re hitting the 1176 first, and it’s doing the bulk of the work. We’re at eight to one, medium on the attack, quickish on the release, three, four, five dB of gain reduction.

[mix]

Maxed out on four or five. At least in this spot. Then there’s a peak here it grabs.

[mix]

It gets really crazy there.

And then, you have the LA-2A coming in behind it that grabs like, another one, two dB of gain reduction. Kind of just rounds the rest of it out, and you get that LA-2A vibe.

[mix]

So let’s solo some stuff. I’ll turn off this plate and this delay.

[vocals]

So let’s bypass some stuff.

Now there’s going to be some volume differences here.

[vocals]

So there’s no compression. Here’s with the 1176.

[vocals with 1176]

It is louder.

Then bring in the LA-2A.

[vocals with LA-2A]

Uh, and let’s find sort of a more exaggerated example.

This is the second verse.

[mix]

Then the bridge I think we have this even more drastic.

[mix]

Okay. So you get the point. It’s really a concept. You can take this and run with it. I’ve seen people stack multiple compressors. Sometimes, you know, and it’s a tone thing, a vibe thing, as well as a dynamics thing. You know, those LA-2As have a really cool vibe to them. 1176s you can use to really shape sound tonally, and then, you know, also just controlling the dynamics of it.

So there’s a lot to kind of play with there. You can run with this and apply it to guitars or pianos or whatever. Just get creative with it. I’ve seen people stack limiters. I think Dave Pensado has a thing on Pensado’s Place where he stacked three or four limiters on a bass or kick drum or something and made just the ultimate brick wall.

So yeah, you know, if one compressor — if one compressor is just doing a ton of the work, you can kind of strain the audio track and mangle it a little bit harsher than maybe if you split the work up between two. You know, you can preserve a little bit more.

So again, this is a Pop example. Pop is very compressed, it’s very in your face, it hits hard. Would I do this on a jazz track? Probably not. I would probably just have an LA-2A and I probably wouldn’t want to hear the compressor at all. So it would probably only be knocking off two or three dB.

So genre to genre, song to song. This is just another technique for you to throw in your toolbelt.

So that’s that. If you liked the video, give it a thumbs up, like it, you can leave a comment, let me know your thoughts, let me know if you’ve done this before, let me know if you have any other cool compressor techniques, add us on Facebook, Twitter, all of that stuff. You know the drill.

We will see you in the next video.

Mixnotes

Mixnotes

Mixnotes is a YouTube channel with tutorials on mixing, recording, business, plugins and more. We've partnered with them to feature some of their videos on The Pro Audio Files.
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