Ok, so almost all of my mixing experience has been on instrumental music, but lately I've been recording some folk/rock stuff with my dad and the uncle of mine who first got me started on guitar, so I've been working with vocals.
I'm not too worried about things like EQ and ambiance - a lot of that seems to me quite similar from how you handle melody line guitars in instrumental music, so that's been pretty intuitive. Dynamics, however, are very different. I've mostly been handling them by just slamming them with an opto compressor (Waves CLA LA2A) which gives me pretty even dynamics without sounding "squashed," to my ears, but is there another way you guys who generally mix vocals go about this stuff? Maybe chain a couple compressors, one pretty aggressive one to handle the peaks, and then something like an opto to smooth the rest out a little more gently?
It's been kind of a fun project for me, and end of the day I'm pretty happy with the way it's sounding (and, it's been fun to experiment with some different approaches - I've had a lot of fun with subtler effects, like I've been using the Bricasti M7 IR samples, and there's a pair that I've had fun with that represent a close mic and a far mic in the same room, so I've been using the two of them in the mix to give me a bit more range on where I'm positioning instruments in the depth field, and then doing stuff like sidechaining the vocal, smashing it with a compressor, and then sending a little bit of that into the "far" mic to open up the vocal a little on the choruses). But, you always want to know if there's a way to make it even better, lol.
I don't usually use just one compressor on vocals. I like stacking 1176's together (black into blue) or stacking an 1176 into an LA-2A. The 1176 is doing the bulk of the work and the LA2A does 3-6 db of GR depending on the signal. The cool things about the LA2A is that frequency screw, as you can use it like a sort of de-esser as well. Lastly, is volume automation. Sometimes that comes in more handy than compression itself. On a project where I recorded vocals at the house I automated certain syllables to either make them more even with the rest of the word, or have them stand out a bit more.
The bricasti stuff you're doing sounds cool. My lead vocals are generally one track down the middle with mono delay into reverb in an aux bus. Sometimes stereo effects sound cool though.
Here's the latest mix I have with vocals.