Audio Examples The Ultimate Rap Vocal Hardware Compressor Shootout - Part 1: Universal Audio Teletronix LA-2A


Squawk

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In this first part of our test, we will be checking out the Universal Audio Teletronix LA-2A. Everyone is probably familiar with this one. T4 onto compressor with only two knobs, "Peak Reduction" and "Gain". Pretty simple. Sounds big and smooth. In this case we are in the "compressor" mode, which is around a 4:1 ratio. The gain knob on the LA-2A is for makeup gain, so does not affect how hard we hit the unit. That's determined by the signal level going in to the unit.

I'll be going through all of the settings in increments of 10 on the Peak Reduction knob, while adjusting the makeup gain to taste. From 0 to 100, subtle to extreme settings.

On these tests, I've taken the file that b0se sent me, and imported into my DAW, then divided it into two parts. The first section is a "slower" verse, which is less aggressive and with a slightly lower average level. The 2nd section is a faster rap that's more aggressive, with a slightly hotter level overall.

Files were exported in real time straight from the DAW (in this case Cubase). Files are MP3 320Kbps.

First, here's both verses with no compression applied.


VERSE 1:

b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_0PR_24MG.jpg



b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_10PR_25MG.jpg



b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_20PR_31MG.jpg



b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_30PR_40MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_40PR_44MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_50PR_54MG.jpg



b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_60PR_60MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_70PR_70MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_80PR_75MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_90PR_80MG.jpg


b0se-verse1_0_LA2A_100PR_85MG.jpg
 
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Squawk

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VERSE 2:













Revisions:

 
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b0se

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This is going to be epic! Thanks for making the effort, had no idea you were going to be this detailed with various levels of compression.

V1 sounds great at 20 GR.

The fast rap (V2) has some nasty frequencies in the top end (too hot), love the way the LA-2A softens that out at peak reduction 20+ (if you want that sound of course). 40+ would be good in parallel.

Also: "Gafrican killer bees" is a thing, right? :p
 
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Squawk

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Thanks for the input b0se. I can definitely look at V1 again, as I want to get this right. I had boosted the vocal level on that track with the fader, so it might have just been too much. I'm also being conscious of trying to get the output a bit louder than I normally would in a session (pre-master), so it's easier for people to hear with headphones, on computers, etc. Let me revisit it her shortly!

Oops, just re-read your comment. V2 was at unity, so I may have just hit the makeup gain too hard, due to the reason I mention above. Let me revisit and just set to where I would normally feel comfortable. That should get rid of the high grit :)
 

b0se

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Thanks for the input b0se. I can definitely look at V1 again, as I want to get this right. I had boosted the vocal level on that track with the fader, so it might have just been too much. I'm also being conscious of trying to get the output a bit louder than I normally would in a session (pre-master), so it's easier for people to hear with headphones, on computers, etc. Let me revisit it her shortly!

Oops, just re-read your comment. V2 was at unity, so I may have just hit the makeup gain too hard, due to the reason I mention above. Let me revisit and just set to where I would normally feel comfortable.
V1 is fine dude!

V2 - My bad, I didn't mean hot as in input level. I was referring to the nasty frequencies in the recording itself. I used a bit of fixing/subtractive EQ but it was for V1. There's an offending freq in V2 that should have been removed. It doesn't impact the test, just gets my ears :¬)

Edit: this is the first time I've heard my vocals through a HW comp. Now I get what people mean. Plugins can't keep up. This thread is going to destroy my wallet :¬)
 
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Chain: Gefell M990 > Prism Lyra
 

b0se

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Oops, just re-read your comment. V2 was at unity, so I may have just hit the makeup gain too hard, due to the reason I mention above. Let me revisit and just set to where I would normally feel comfortable. That should get rid of the high grit :)
Might be worth trying, there does seem to be a lot of distortion quite quickly with V2. Perhaps feed the comp at -6 and then bump back to unit for export?
 

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Might be worth trying, there does seem to be a lot of distortion quite quickly with V2. Perhaps feed the comp at -6 and then bump back to unit for export?
Sure, let me have a look. Your levels weren't too hot and it was well tracked, so it's probably just too much makeup gain coming back out of the LA-2A.
 

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Sure, let me have a look. Your levels weren't too hot and it was well tracked, so it's probably just too much makeup gain coming back out of the LA-2A.
Cool! Tracked at -12dBFS, then bumped to -6 before exporting.
 

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Remember that I've not used a HW comp before - I don't know the distortion characteristics of the LA-2A at certain input levels.
 

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I don't think it's actually a gain issue, but revisiting verse 2, I'm certainly hearing some high sizzle on the track that's being enhanced by the compressor. Check the first file under "Revisions". I just did some very minor eq'ing, and ran it again with PR @ 60 and Gain @ 40 (compression mode). Let me know if that sounds any better... :)
 

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I don't think it's actually a gain issue, but revisiting verse 2, I'm certainly hearing some high sizzle on the track that's being enhanced by the compressor. Check the first file under "Revisions". I just did some very minor eq'ing, and ran it again with PR @ 60 and Gain @ 40 (compression mode). Let me know if that sounds any better... :)
Good stuff! Yeah 7.5K is where I had cut before on the solo high vox, forgot to do as (stupidly) I used only V1. Might be worth me sending over a new version with that freq fixed for the rest of the tests? Doesn't make sense to carry on with a problematic one.

Wasn't expecting the LA-2A to be so colourful. A lot of harmonics being added. Loving the sound at 20-30 dB GR.
 

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NEW VERSE 2 (RE-RECORDED)

b0se sent me a new recording of verse 2. (I'll keep the others up just for now).

First, no compressor:

The clips below will line up with the photos of the settings for verse 1 in the first post, starting with 0 PR and 24 MG.











 

b0se

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Thanks for redoing them - much better for comparisons!
 
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