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Cubase 13: Stock Vocal Compressors Compared | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published July 2024

This audio example accompanies the Cubase workshop in SOS July 2024.

www.soundonsound.com/techniques/cubase-13-stock-vocal-compressors-compared

It’s split into a number of sections to illustrate the various stages of the discussion within the main text. The example features a short verse/chorus song section. This consists of a single female vocal part within a simple backing track (not a ‘finished mix, just enough to provide the musical context). The vocal also has a little delay and reverb added. The song section is repeated a total of six times and, in each case, different compression options are used allowing you to audition the differences between them.

The configuration for each of the six repeats of the song section was as follows:

(A) The vocal without any compression applied. Delay/reverb aside, it is left ‘unmixed’. Within the verse section, the vocal is obviously too quiet, and some individual words are particularly difficult to hear. However, the chorus section was delivered with more energy and is louder. These level differences could, of course, be refined with volume automation, but have been left ‘as is’ here for direct comparison with the compressed versions.

(B) In this second pass, the only difference is that Vox Comp has been inserted on the vocal track using the settings shown within the first screenshot in the main article. The end result is a much better balance between the verse/chorus vocal levels, an overall increase in the vocal’s level and, as a result, all of the words can be heard more clearly.

(C) In this third pass, Black Valve has been inserted on the vocal track using the settings shown within the first screenshot in the main article. The settings have perhaps added a little more overall loudness than the settings used for Vox Comp (although this could easily be adjusted using the respective Output controls). However, the influence of the Black Valve’s Drive control can also be heard, adding a little saturation to the sound that is particularly obvious on some of the consonant sounds, although it is probably a little overcooked here for illustrative purposes.

(D) In this fourth pass, Compressor has been inserted on the vocal track using the settings shown within the first screenshot in the main article. The result is clean and well balanced.

(E) In this fifth pass, Compressor has been used again. The settings are the same with the exception of much slower Attack and Release values. The differences within the example waveform (see the bottom panel of the second screenshot) are fairly obvious and the slower response of the compression has resulted in some noticeably louder words/syllables within the vocal.

(F) In this sixth pass, Compressor has been used again. The Attack and Release values have been returned to their faster settings, but the Ratio has been increased to 8:1. The differences within the example waveform (see the bottom panel of the second screenshot) are again very obvious with a much more controlled dynamic range. Pushed too far, this might result in an over-compressed sound that robs the performance of some of its life.

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