multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

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multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by SteveKD »

Hi, looking for advice on how to set up compression.

I'm running the sound for a musical (just vocal mics- the band won't be going through the PA) there will be about 10 singers with solos of various sizes, soloists will also be singing in the chorus. Sometimes a soloist will sing above the chorus. I have 2 channels of compression available (outboard unit).

I take it that putting compression on the whole mix would be a bad idea (don't want a soloist suddenly ducking when an over enthusiastic chorus member joins in).
I could send required vocals to the compressor by Aux sends 1 & 2 - and then ride the pots to give compression to each soloist in turn.
Or I could send required vocals to the compressor placed on Groups 1 & 2 - then could just turn on/off the send to group button.

or is it best simply to not use compression at all?

ideas/suggestions very much appreciated
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by James Perrett »

SteveKD wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 2:49 pm or is it best simply to not use compression at all?

This is usually the best idea - just ride the faders. As this is a musical you should have plenty of chances in rehearsals to practice the moves needed.
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by SteveKD »

thanks, I thought that might be the answer.
Unfortunately I'm not going to have lots of rehearsal time, but you can move a fader with your fingers crossed can't you.
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by Sam Spoons »

I have only mixed one musical (though I've been involved in many others) and ended up using compressors on all the soloists. I was reluctant at first but it was a (very good) am dram production of Les Miz and the dynamic range of the 'nuclear sopranos' was awe inspiring and definitely needed some taming...

When is it and where are you?

edit :- I have a Behringer stereo compressor you can have for the cost of postage?
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by resistorman »

I've mixed something similar with just a buss compressor, but don't expect it to mix for you. Ride the faders with the current lead highest as usual and don't use too much. It does help glue things together and control peaks. If it's a dual mono model, you can run it in series with one side using fast attack and release handling peaks and the other with slow attack and release as a leveler. Again, not too much.
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by resistorman »

If there's a way to sidechain it to affect Sopranos and Tenors more that would be good :mrgreen:
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by SteveKD »

Sam Spoons wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:16 pm I have only mixed one musical (though I've been involved in many others) and ended up using compressors on all the soloists. I was reluctant at first but it was a (very good) am dram production of Les Miz and the dynamic range of the 'nuclear sopranos' was awe inspiring and definitely needed some taming...

When is it and where are you?

edit :- I have a Behringer stereo compressor you can have for the cost of postage?

Thanks for a really generous offer Sam, I've sent a message.
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by Sam Spoons »

:thumbup:
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by Luke W »

Be prepared for lots of arm exercise :D

Obviously a lot will depend on the performers and the material, but I tend to use compression on all of the individual sources. It's never particularly heavy handed, but it really helps in taming the extremes and making fader riding a little easier to manage.

Consistency in mic placement is key as well. It's a busy enough job mixing musical theatre without the added stress of peoples mics being in different places every time!
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by Mike Monte »

I have done sound with several high school musicals.
Besides individual lavs I usually have five small condenser mics (Shure MS202B/C) suspended from the lighting rig (3 across the front and two across the back).
This way I have five "zones" in addition to the lavs.

In the case of the entire cast singing I will bring down their individual lavs and let the OH mics pick up the chorus parts while keeping the soloist's lav hot.

Asking the cast to move five feet one way or the other (to sound better) is usually not too much to ask for.

It works well...
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by Bob Bickerton »

It needs to be said that compression can also be your enemy as well as your friend with a pile of open headset mics on stage - feedback is just stage left waiting to enter.

I've been fortunate to have done a few musicals with digital desks, which is great because you can programme scenes enabling channels too be muted, attenuated, or reinforced as per a solo - however even then you're always working hard to mix the show.

So there's no avoiding it you'll be busy mixing, muting mics when offstage (unless you want toilet flushes and expletives). By all means use some subtle compression if it helps, but don't feel bound to it.

Best advice is to really get to know the show so it's second nature to you.

Down side is that it can takes months to get the tunes out of your head!

Bob
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Re: multiple vocals and only 2 channels compression

Post by awjoe »

Bob Bickerton wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 1:00 am Best advice is to really get to know the show so it's second nature to you.

Down side is that it can takes months to get the tunes out of your head!

Bob

I guess in a way that's what they're paying you for. Not to get the tunes out of your head, but to make the show second nature, so that faders are easier. How much time it takes you to get there really factors in to whether it was worth it to you to have your head host those tunes for that long. I mean, even if you're Roger Nichols doing something as good as a Steely Dan show, your brain cells are still getting steeped in that stuff. It's a question I've always wanted to ask audio engineers. How do you deal with that?
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