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Can anyone give me a good starting point for setting compression on lead singers vocals live. Is it worth it.
I may be doing it all wrong, but set the threshold a little (a few Dbs) below the level that your vocalist sings quiter, or whatever the average volume is, then set the ratio fairly high, generally between 8:1 and 20:1 depending on style. You can set The attack and release to taste, but generally fairly quick. I keep the attack in the single digits, and the release can really be anywhere.. very dependent on the sound you are after and how much "pumping" or "throbbing" you want. I generally set my release to 5 to 10 times the attack. With that in mind, I rarely mix metal - Honestly, most of it is rock.. all genres of rock though, from hard to pop. So metal probably requires quicker action.
If all else fails....
EDIT - Most important thing to keep in mind is the end result - The goal in compression is to keep the volume consistant... that is, to limit the dynamic range - in other words, we are trying to make the volume (level) of a whisper and a scream relatively the same... or at least musically permitting. Without comp, screams would still be as loud as screams, and whispers would be as loud as a whisper, relatively. So yes, it is very worth it!