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Author Topic: Compressed vocals in the monitors?  (Read 11183 times)

Derek Konop

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Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« on: June 28, 2011, 04:21:24 pm »

First post on the new boards....

Does anyone prefer to have compressed vocals in the monitors? I know most folks advise against it, just wondering if anyone actually prefers it. If a sometimes quiet and sometimes screaming loud Singer can tear the heads off a crowd through the main PA if uncompressed, why should the band be subjected to that through the monitor rig?

Thanks,
Derek
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Shy Clyman

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 04:30:59 pm »

Hey, heavey compression like what youre describing can take the dynamics out of vocal somewhat which can make the vocalist compensate by singing louder and harder during softer sections, which is probably what he/she doesnt want to be doing. so most singers would rather have no compression the monitors, oh and it can also bring about some nasty feedback.

First post on the new boards....

Does anyone prefer to have compressed vocals in the monitors? I know most folks advise against it, just wondering if anyone actually prefers it. If a sometimes quiet and sometimes screaming loud Singer can tear the heads off a crowd through the main PA if uncompressed, why should the band be subjected to that through the monitor rig?

Thanks,
Derek
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Alan Sledzieski

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2011, 05:28:44 pm »

First post on the new boards....

 If a sometimes quiet and sometimes screaming loud Singer can tear the heads off a crowd through the main PA if uncompressed, why should the band be subjected to that through the monitor rig?

Thanks,
Derek

As far as the band being subjected to a screaming loud singer,,, maybe he will learn how to sing after he really hears his ups and downs in his voice.

 I run a compressor on each vocal to keep things at bay, unfortunately the monitors are compressed, and feedback can be a issue.  I made some splits, 1 xcrf to 2 xcrm, ( hope this works ) I'm going to run each vocal on 2 channels, one with a compressor for front of house, and another with the fader down but aux feeding there monitor mix.  I have a few singers that are so quiet at times, then they are at -12 db of compression a few seconds later.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2011, 05:31:58 pm »

I have read, many years ago, that Robert Plant hates to hear his vocals without compression. This was in reference to the recording of the Walking to Clarksdale album.

I suppose that if he prefers compression while tracking he might like it in his in ears as well, but that's an assumption on my part.
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Greg_Cameron

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2011, 05:36:14 pm »

I run a compressor on each vocal to keep things at bay, unfortunately the monitors are compressed, and feedback can be a issue.  I made some splits, 1 xcrf to 2 xcrm, ( hope this works ) I'm going to run each vocal on 2 channels, one with a compressor for front of house, and another with the fader down but aux feeding there monitor mix.  I have a few singers that are so quiet at times, then they are at -12 db of compression a few seconds later.

Splitting the vocals to other channels is very effective for both removing compression from monitors as well as providing separate channel EQ to the monitor mix vs. the mains. Another way to avoid compressed monitor mixes is to use group compression for vocals which can work well also without chewing up channel strips you might need. You don't get separate channel EQ for monitors though, but it's not usually a problem.

Greg
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Dave Dermont

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2011, 05:50:00 pm »

I have read, many years ago, that Robert Plant hates to hear his vocals without compression. This was in reference to the recording of the Walking to Clarksdale album.

I suppose that if he prefers compression while tracking he might like it in his in ears as well, but that's an assumption on my part.

It's a fair assumption, but keep in mind that tracking a vocal in the studio and a live performance are two different animals.

Another good assumption to make is that not all singers are Robert Plant.

Issue #1 is that a singer wants to HEAR. If they can't hear, they sing louder. If they sing louder and the compressor squashes the vocal, so they still can't hear, which means they sing EVEN LOUDER, which squashes the vocal more, which means...

You get the idea.

What eventually happens is the singer blows out his voice by trying to sing loud enough to hear what he is singing.

If the singer is subjecting the band to too much vocal on stage, turning the monitors down is possible.

No, really. I've done it.

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Derek Konop

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2011, 06:21:22 pm »

It's a fair assumption, but keep in mind that tracking a vocal in the studio and a live performance are two different animals.

Another good assumption to make is that not all singers are Robert Plant.

Issue #1 is that a singer wants to HEAR. If they can't hear, they sing louder. If they sing louder and the compressor squashes the vocal, so they still can't hear, which means they sing EVEN LOUDER, which squashes the vocal more, which means...

You get the idea.

What eventually happens is the singer blows out his voice by trying to sing loud enough to hear what he is singing.

If the singer is subjecting the band to too much vocal on stage, turning the monitors down is possible.

No, really. I've done it.

Mild compression allows a vocal to be loud enough to cut through the main mix but limit peaks that would dominate the mix or hurt people ears with volume spikes.

I'm a little confused as to how utilizing this in the monitor mix would create a situation where the vocals are squashed down to inaudible or unintelligible volumes in monitors.  I plan on trying some compression on the vocals in the monitor mixes this weekend. We've got 3 nights back to back for the holiday weekend so I should have plenty of trial and error time :)

I will check back and let you guys know what happens, hopefully not the death and destruction that I think this may lead to! Most of the time when I question something like this it turns out that the things everybody told me in advance were exactly right.  ;D
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Dave Dermont

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2011, 06:48:44 pm »

It's a fair assumption, but keep in mind that tracking a vocal in the studio and a live performance are two different animals.

Another good assumption to make is that not all singers are Robert Plant.

Issue #1 is that a singer wants to HEAR. If they can't hear, they sing louder. If they sing louder and the compressor squashes the vocal, so they still can't hear, which means they sing EVEN LOUDER, which squashes the vocal more, which means...

You get the idea.

What eventually happens is the singer blows out his voice by trying to sing loud enough to hear what he is singing.

If the singer is subjecting the band to too much vocal on stage, turning the monitors down is possible.

No, really. I've done it.

Mild compression allows a vocal to be loud enough to cut through the main mix but limit peaks that would dominate the mix or hurt people ears with volume spikes.

I'm a little confused as to how utilizing this in the monitor mix would create a situation where the vocals are squashed down to inaudible or unintelligible volumes in monitors.  I plan on trying some compression on the vocals in the monitor mixes this weekend. We've got 3 nights back to back for the holiday weekend so I should have plenty of trial and error time :)

I will check back and let you guys know what happens, hopefully not the death and destruction that I think this may lead to! Most of the time when I question something like this it turns out that the things everybody told me in advance were exactly right.  ;D

Some bands have singers who are quite capable of using compression in the vocal monitors. That's kinda what I meant by the "not every singer is Robert plant" comment.

Some bands want every wedge to light their hair on fire.

It just a matter of one guys 'good mix' being another guys 'I can't hear a freakin' thing'.

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David Parker

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2011, 07:49:07 pm »

more often than not vocal compression in the monitors will cause problems. I've never had a singer ask for compression on their vocals in the monitors. I've had plenty feel starved due to compression in the monitors. They keep asking for more of the vocals in the monitors until it starts ringing.
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Andrew Makinson

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2011, 09:37:00 pm »

First post on the new boards....

 If a sometimes quiet and sometimes screaming loud Singer can tear the heads off a crowd through the main PA if uncompressed, why should the band be subjected to that through the monitor rig?

Thanks,
Derek

As far as the band being subjected to a screaming loud singer,,, maybe he will learn how to sing after he really hears his ups and downs in his voice.

 I run a compressor on each vocal to keep things at bay, unfortunately the monitors are compressed, and feedback can be a issue.  I made some splits, 1 xcrf to 2 xcrm, ( hope this works ) I'm going to run each vocal on 2 channels, one with a compressor for front of house, and another with the fader down but aux feeding there monitor mix.  I have a few singers that are so quiet at times, then they are at -12 db of compression a few seconds later.

I have often done multi way splits where the lead vocalist had a channel just for their own monitors (uncompressed, but with eq to their taste), then a channel for the rest of the band member's monitors (that is compressed), and a channel for FoH.  This can be really useful with a vocalist that doesn't stay where they can hear their monitors.  With an analogue desk or when it is necessary to use only 2 channels for the vocalist, you can send the FOH (compressed) signal to the other band members.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 08:41:16 am by Andrew Makinson »
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2011, 11:13:19 pm »

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Some bands have singers who are quite capable of using compression in the vocal monitors.

YES!!  It just so happens I worked last weekend with a band that is internationally known and considered by many to be one of the top Irish bands in the world.  They all use in-ears which they control on stage.  Guess what - they use compression in every channel!

I have read way too many generalizions here at this forum on what "should" or "shouldn't " be done, but compression is just another tool that can be used or mis-used!
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Robert "VOiD" Caprio

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2011, 07:54:11 am »

YES!!  It just so happens I worked last weekend with a band that is internationally known and considered by many to be one of the top Irish bands in the world.  They all use in-ears which they control on stage.  Guess what - they use compression in every channel!

I have read way too many generalizations here at this forum on what "should" or "shouldn't " be done, but compression is just another tool that can be used or mis-used!

You're referring to using compression in IEM mixes which is a VERY different story than using compression in wedge mixes. Only with wedges (and to a lesser degree, sidefills) do you run the risk of feedback, especially if using compression. It is not uncommon to use comps on many (if not all) the channels when mixing for IEMs because it's often the goal of the mon engineer to make it sound like "the record" in the performer's ears. As we all know compression is rampant on recordings thus leading to it's use on stage for IEMs. Plus, if done correctly, it can be very useful and pleasant sounding.  You're right that compression is just another tool in our arsenal, it's one I make use of all the time.
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2011, 09:27:52 am »

There is no inherent reason why compression should cause feed back. If your'e trying to use too much compression and have the gain very high you could have feedback issues.  I compress vocals in wedges without problems all the time.  Of course it depends on the singer.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 10:13:56 am by Chuck Simon »
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Dave Neale

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2011, 10:15:07 am »

YES!!  It just so happens I worked last weekend with a band that is internationally known and considered by many to be one of the top Irish bands in the world.  They all use in-ears which they control on stage.  Guess what - they use compression in every channel!

I have read way too many generalizions here at this forum on what "should" or "shouldn't " be done, but compression is just another tool that can be used or mis-used!

IF it's the band I'm thinking of, the artists push their IEM's to stupid levels because of the compression and the main singer has strained her voice before.  Are you up in New England?
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 10:28:05 am »

Quote
IF it's the band I'm thinking of, the artists push their IEM's to stupid levels because of the compression and the main singer has strained her voice before.  Are you up in New England?
No, different band.
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Dave Dermont

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2011, 04:51:54 pm »

There is no inherent reason why compression should cause feed back. If your'e trying to use too much compression and have the gain very high you could have feedback issues.  I compress vocals in wedges without problems all the time.  Of course it depends on the singer.

The singer sings.

The comp reduces gain.

The singer stops singing.

The comp releases, and the gain goes up.

Feedback happens.

The more compression, the more gain there is when the comp releases.

Like most things, the more you know what you are doing, the less trouble you have.

There are a lot of reasons to not have compression in the monitors, and the consequences of doing it wrong can be pretty bad.
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chuck clark

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2011, 06:51:07 pm »

Hi Derek, I use limiting with the threshold set about 3 -6 db before clipping the monitor amp to keep levels from tearing anything up. Oddly, regular compression tends to bring feedback when there is NO singing and the gain comes back up from it's compressed (reduced) level.
Have you tried having that little talk about "mic technique" with the singer? It couldn't hurt! Ha!
Good luck, Chuck
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Dave Neale

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2011, 10:08:40 pm »

No, different band.

Just wondering. I toured mixing an "internationally known" band from Galway, doing IEMs and FOH on one desk and compressing everything for a radio friendly ears mix that caused me no end of grief in the house mix. 

Even on inputs I'd have compressed anyway, what worked for IEMs was never right for the house and vice-verse.  But I had a knowledgeable band leader with studio engineering experience and the guy paying the bills is always right, right?

I ended up splitting every input to both layers of the console, and even that was something of a compromise.  Sometimes things just got strange, as musicians responded to dynamics in their ears that were somewhat different than the house layer.  The lead singer I ran uncompressed in her ears, but the heavy dynamics some of the musicians preferred would really mess with her head, so she was always looking for maximum level on her vocal, sometimes pulling one IEM out to listen to the side fills.

If the step dancers wanted the side fills louder than usual on a given night things could get dodgy there too.

Anyway, over the course of a couple tours I gradually lightened up on the IEM input compression until it was very light or non existent,  with the exception of a few things that really did need to be squeezed fairly hard, and for the most part none of them ever missed it.

I feel that a talented player on an instrument with good tone really needs very little to no compression and can do all the dynamics processing with their hands,or lips, or whatever. 

That's not to say that less talented players don't need some help inserted now and then, but I always listen first, and if it doesn't need compression I don't use it.  If I do, I'll always A/B it with the bypass switch to make sure I was right.

And of course I always do vocals and almost always bass guitar. 

« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 10:13:37 pm by Dave Neale »
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Robert "VOiD" Caprio

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2011, 10:11:35 pm »

I feel that a talented player on an instrument with good tone really needs very little to no compression and can do all the dynamics processing with their hands,or lips, or whatever.

Amen. That's probably represented by 1 out of 100 artists, maybe less.
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2011, 10:16:06 pm »

There is no inherent reason why compression should cause feed back. If your'e trying to use too much compression and have the gain very high you could have feedback issues.  I compress vocals in wedges without problems all the time.  Of course it depends on the singer.

The singer sings.

The comp reduces gain.

The singer stops singing.

The comp releases, and the gain goes up.

Feedback happens.

The more compression, the more gain there is when the comp releases.

Like most things, the more you know what you are doing, the less trouble you have.

There are a lot of reasons to not have compression in the monitors, and the consequences of doing it wrong can be pretty bad.

Well gosh, if you are having all these problems with compression in monitors then you should not be doing it.  I seriously doubt that I am the only one here who can use compressors in the monitors without problems!
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 10:21:47 pm by Chuck Simon »
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Dave Neale

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2011, 10:25:21 pm »

Amen. That's probably represented by 1 out of 100 artists, maybe less.

Totally less.
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Sam Zuckerman

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2011, 02:21:12 am »

Well gosh, if you are having all these problems with compression in monitors then you should not be doing it.  I seriously doubt that I am the only one here who can use compressors in the monitors without problems!
I have used compression in monitors (not by choice) many times... I rarely had feedback issues (though I do know how and why it happens) but that doesn't mean it was the best thing. I much prefer to have no compression on my monitor mixes. I also believe that that there are many ways to do one thing. And if compression in the monitors is working for you and your band then keep on keepin' on.

I mostly work festivals and one-offs so I rarely even have compressors in my rack for monitors. But if I were to work with one band and they asked to be compressed then I would humor them if it's what they want.
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Chuck Simon

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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2011, 02:11:52 pm »

Quote
And if compression in the monitors is working for you and your band then keep on keepin' on.


Oh, I work with a lot of different bands too, and they all don't get compression in their monitors.  But if the guy paying asks for it, we should be able to handle it.
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Re: Compressed vocals in the monitors?
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2011, 02:11:52 pm »


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