You are here

Good software compressor for tracking?

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:30 am

Owing to my recent clear out for the Sosage meet, I'm going over to using software comoressors on my DAW inputs from my mic preamps. These will be used to protect the inputs from clipping on our live sessions, which can get a bit "dynamic" sometimes, to say the least.
I have used ReaComp, in Reaper, but it leaves me a bit cold, and I can never seem to hit the sweet spot with it however I set it up.
I'm looking for something better TBQH, that's capable of being clean, but a bit dirty if need be.
I haven't any experience beyond free DAW plugs, and I need to know how much it's worth spending money on these things?
User avatar
Arpangel
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:49 am

A software compressor won't stop the A/D converter from clipping. And if the A/D converter isn't overloading, then you don't need a compressor at all whilst tracking.

Unless I'm totally misunderstanding you, it needs to either be hardware, or else nothing and a decent headroom setting on the pre-amp outputs.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9165
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby The Elf » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:52 am

You don't need compression to avoid clipping - you simply need to drop the mic gain! And the LAST thing to avoid clipping is a compressor AFTER the A/D conversion!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12540
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:12 am

Yep you can't stop the converter clipping that way. Just drop the mic amp gain until you have enough headroom.
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3769
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby MOF » Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:47 pm

Have you thought about the UAD system? You use Unison technology on the inputs and its Console application plus the (compressor) plugins’ virtual fascias will show you your levels.
MOF
Regular
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:49 am

Thanks folks, my mic preamp doesn't have balanced outputs, which makes things just a tad more difficult connecting to a compressor, as my best compressor only has balanced inputs, and the thought of yet another converter box is just a pain. I could dig out my Behringer Composer as that has a switchable input -10+4db, but it sounds a bit grim, so that's out.
I want to use my preamp, it's not negotiable, I think I may have to look for a better hardware compressor (with a good quallity converter box :frown: ) and I need something very transparent
I've tried keeping the levels down, as you say, to stop overloading my interface, but it just doeasnt work, our music is very dynamic, and it always catches us out. There have been a few takes that have been ruined due to major peaks.
I can't think of any other solutions to this problem, apart from a decent compressor, one that can be quite extreme, but at the same time, be transparent, if at all possible.
User avatar
Arpangel
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:55 am

What is the mic pre that you are using?

And you don't need an adapter box between the pre and the compressor. You'll just need the right cable, which depending on the connectors available could be as simple as a TS to TS lead.

If this causes a hum, then a pseudo-balanced cable should cure that.

So what are the input and output connectors available?
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9165
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:33 am

Wonks wrote:What is the mic pre that you are using?

And you don't need an adapter box between the pre and the compressor. You'll just need the right cable, which depending on the connectors available could be as simple as a TS to TS lead.

If this causes a hum, then a pseudo-balanced cable should cure that.

So what are the input and output connectors available?

Wonks, my mic preamp is an ITZA job, by Mike Skeet, amazing sonics, but a bit eccentrically made! 70db of gain on 4 channels, almost imperceptible noise, and headroom to the stars. I don't think I've ever managed to overload it! It's got built in M&S, phase reversal, 2 headphone outputs, and built in stereo field/phase LED matrix meter. It has 2 stereo outputs on two seperate stereo unbalanced jacks.
My compressor is a BSS DPR402 with balanced male/female XLR's.
I've tried putting unbalanced -10db signals into the compressor but the levels are really low, almost unworkable.
User avatar
Arpangel
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:56 am

But do you know what output levels the Mike Skeet unit runs at?

-10dBV is about 12dB below +4dBu. You may also loose 6dB with going from unbalanced to a balanced differential input. But with 70dB of gain available, even if the unit's output is nominally -10dBV rather than +4dBu (it doesn't have to be just because it's unbalanced) you should be able to get a decent output level; certainly when using capacitor mics, though some dynamics might push things unless on loud sources.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9165
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:36 am

It may just need a hardware pad to better match a high output pre to the converter's input.

But even without a pad why is it clipping? If using the DAW's meters, they should be telling you you're clipping. Are you seeing regular clipping (hitting 0dbFS) on playback?

OTOH if the pre's output is a little on the low side, and you're metering in the DAW, you may be clipping the pre rather than the converter.
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1777
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:54 am

Can you remind us what your interface is currently? I seem to remember something about a Behringer mixer. As has been said a software limited won’t help distortion of the converters, and a hardware compressor really should not be necessary even with huge dynamic range - unless there’s a severe limitation on your current interface.

Maybe an interface with analogue limiters would do the trick (if it’s really necessary) - MixPre?

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3872
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby The Elf » Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:31 pm

Adding a compressor to prevent clipping is like putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg. Work backwards and find out what is clipping and fix that first and foremost.

Aim for peaks no higher than -10dBFS when things are absolutely belting.

I have a couple of mic's that require an in-line attenuator when used with drums - that may be a solution you need to look at.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12540
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:29 pm

The Elf wrote:Adding a compressor to prevent clipping is like putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg. Work backwards and find out what is clipping and fix that first and foremost.

Aim for peaks no higher than -10dBFS when things are absolutely belting.

I have a couple of mic's that require an in-line attenuator when used with drums - that may be a solution you need to look at.

Thanks Elf, I always make sure reference levels are set at -12db or lower. I'm dealing with our Marimba, and my rather "all over the place" piano playing. It would all be great if I was just an engineer sitting there keeping an eye on things, but I'm playing as well. Hence the need for an intelligent dumb engineer, also known as "a compressor"
User avatar
Arpangel
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:31 pm

But a compressor after the converters will not prevent clipping as has been said.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3872
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:52 pm

Arpangel wrote:Thanks Elf, I always make sure reference levels are set at -12db or lower.

My reference levels are usually around -18dBFS and that's for reasonably well controlled material. Sounds like you should be going for a reference level of -24 or -30dBFS for your material.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8343
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby MOF » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:54 pm

I'm dealing with our Marimba, and my rather "all over the place" piano playing. It would all be great if I was just an engineer sitting there keeping an eye on things

Get someone else to play loudly and set a level that gives you plenty of headroom. If that’s not possible do some recording, review it, then decrease or increase your gain to the point where there’s reasonable headroom.
You can increase the level of quiet sections at the mixdown stage since hiss is not a problem with 24bit digital recordings.
MOF
Regular
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:39 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:But a compressor after the converters will not prevent clipping as has been said.

Bob
But we've already moved on to hardware compressors as software ones won't work. Why are you referring back to software compressors?
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9165
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:51 am

Wonks wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:But a compressor after the converters will not prevent clipping as has been said.

Bob
But we've already moved on to hardware compressors as software ones won't work. Why are you referring back to software compressors?

Because Arp's response to Elf was ambiguous?

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3872
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:08 am

Yellow is the new Red!
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1174
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby MOF » Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:53 am

we've already moved on to hardware compressors as software ones won't work.

Strictly speaking it would have to be a compressor/ limiter since a compressor set at a moderate ratio (you don’t want to overdo compression at the recording stage) acting on a source with Insufficient headroom will still exceed the distortion threshold.
MOF
Regular
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users