Parallel Vocal Compression with Metric Halo Channel Strip 3, UAD Fairchild 670, UAD 1176 Rev A

What’s up, guys? Welcome to a new video. In this one, I’ve got a lot to talk about. A new plug-in and a new technique for compressing vocals. Not really a new technique, but new to me, new to the channel. Something I haven’t talked about before.

Anyways, let’s get into it. I’ve got a track, it’s a pop thing — it’s a pop/country thing. It sounds like this.

[mix]

So that’s what we’re dealing with.

First off, new plug-in, Metric Halo Channel Strip 3. Something I’ve never used before, but it’s been around for a little while. This is sort of a new update the guys at Metric Halo just released. I thought I’d check it out.

Obviously it’s a channel strip, obviously it’s big. I like big plug-ins. Plug-in makers watching this, make your plug-ins big, man. I don’t want to look at that all day. I want to look at that. My monitor sits a bit from me. If I can get stuff big, I like it. I’m getting older, I’m going blind, so.

Anyways, you’ve got a gate, you’ve got a compressor, you’ve got a six band EQ, you have sort of a master gain section, you have a limiter as well, and then you have all of your sort of GUIs. You can see your EQ line there down at the bottom right.

[mix]

It’s fairly transparent. It can be a little more vibey, depending on these compressor settings. You can sort of flip through and get it to sort of react like various compressors that we all know and love.

It doesn’t eat up a ton of CPU. You just click these little things in here, and you can kick stuff in and out. You’ve got shelving, filters, bell curves, all that stuff. Just click through it.
Really great plug-in. Comes with some pretty cool presets as well. You can flip your compressor post-EQ or pre-EQ depending on what you want. I like my compression to happen post-EQ. You can flip auto-gain on. I don’t like auto-gain, I like to makeup my own gain if I need to.

Really cool plug-in. I highly, highly recommend it. I know a lot of pros that use it. I know a lot of not pros that use it, so maybe it’s for you. Go demo it. Very affordable as well.

Anyways, so to our sort of technique discussion in this video, we’re talking about parallel compression on a lead vocal. This is kind of a thing that Brauer does, except I’m not as smart as Brauer, so I probably can’t explain it quite as elegant as him. It’s also something very new to me, so I’m not awesome at it yet, but I still thought I’d kind of do a video, because it may inspire you guys to check it out.

So the whole idea is to have multiple compressors running in parallel with your lead vocal that you can sort of automate in and out, or blend together to sort of change the character of the vocal in various parts of the song.

So maybe use one in the chorus, and one in the bridge, and one in the verse, or maybe use two in the last chorus, and you can subtly sort of make things brighter, rounder, fatter, whatever.

As you can imagine, different compressors sort of make sounds feel different, whether they’re crunchy FET compressors, or really squishy kind of tube or VCA things, or what have you, they all have their own characteristic and thing, and if you run them in parallel, you can see how that would sort of change the characteristic of a vocal subtly, but still sort of give it a new kind of emotional thing or energy or whatever. However you want to think about it.

This is what I’ve got. I have an 1176 from UAD. It’s a Blue Stripe. The settings are four to one, and I’m slamming it pretty bleeping hard. My attack is about down the center, my release is all the way fast to the right, and that one sounds like this.

[mix]

Soloed.

[vocals]

Second compressor is a Fairchild 670, UAD, because they sound good and we like them.

Also, very aggressive. I use this whole Smash preset, and then I tweaked it a little bit, and this is what this sounds like.

[vocals]

To me it’s a little rounder, it’s a little more fat. I’m not saying that’s better or worse than the other one, I’m just saying it’s different, and it’s a different vibe, and it may work cool in a verse, and if you want it more aggressive in the chorus, maybe use the 1176.

Let me go back and forth here, and you can sort of really here — again, this is a subtle thing, so put your headphones on, and hopefully you’re not listening to this on an iPad or something ridiculous. So anyways, here we go.

[vocals, switching between compressors]

Yeah, right? Pretty cool.

Just to get picky, I do believe the Fairchild, the output is a little bit hotter than the 1176, so I’m going to try to level match that a little bit better.

Let’s try that one more time.

[vocals, switching between compressors]

So yeah, 1176 is a little more crunchy. Not like in a distorted way, just in kind of a little more aggressive way. The Fairchild is a little smoother, a little fatter. It sounds a little — maybe a little more vibey in a sense. Here’s it in the track. It’s going to sound like this.

I’m going to start with the 1176.

[vocals, with 1176 compressor and Fairchild]

So yeah, pretty cool thing. Again, you can use any kind of compressor you’d want. They all sort of have a different flavor. A VCA would be cool, an opto would be cool. VCAs to me are a little more squishy, but not in the sense of an opto compressor, which is just very smooth and obviously it’s going to have slower attack and release settings.

LA-3A may be a cool option as well, so just things to try out. Try it for yourself. I think it’s pretty cool, I think there’s something to it. Again, I know this is a very brief example, and by no means am I an expert at this stuff, but it’s something I’m going to start playing with in my own work, and yeah. That’s all I’ve got.

So hopefully you got something from this. And yeah.

Hit me up with questions. Always looking for new content, new questions for videos. Let me know what you guys want to see, and yeah. I’ll see you guys in the next video.

Later.

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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