My colleagues Dan Cooper and Julian Rodgers have both posted recently about their ways of using two compressors, one fast, one slow. In his video, Dan looked at using two compressors on a vocal. And Julian looked at using two different compressors on a kick drum and vocal as well in his video to illustrate the effects of each.
There are many ways to skin a cat or to use two compressors. In this song called After The Flood I have been working on with Rex Strother, we had our very own Audrey Martinovitch record some sweet kitschy sounding backup vocals to fill out the arrangement. Given the style of music, I didn’t want them panned too wide, with different harmonies sticking out too prominently at different positions in the stereo field. But I did want a beautiful full sound. How to get the best of both words - stereo width, but with a strong middle?
Watch in this video, as I group the backup vocals to a stereo bus, but also set up a parallel mono bus for them. Using a slow compressor on the stereo bus, I get an excellent thick, lush sustain to them. On the mono bus, I use a faster compressor to bring out the attack of the consonants at the beginning of each word. Combing this signal in the middle with the stereo image creates a vibrant full sounding backup vocal mix with beautiful sharp present consonants filling up the sound. The modestly panned harmonies on the stereo bus add just the right amount of width to the blend.