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#617793 - 10/04/20 05:13 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Resolved]
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Tangmo Offline
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Everything I can find on side-chain compression relates to having the kick drum trigger a brief compression to the bass to avoid mud and accentuate the kick. This is ubiquitous in modern pop.

What I'm asking about is causing not the "volume" but the frequencies of a vocal to momentarily compress (make quieter) those same frequencies in something like a piano or pads backing (or any other instrument, for that matter). I'm not talking about "ducking" as in a voiceover or something, but compressing in another track just those frequencies present in the vocal track.

Is this a "thing"? Does anybody have any experience with this? Some other way?


Edited by Tangmo (10/04/20 05:35 PM)
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#617877 - 10/05/20 12:28 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Charlie Fogle Online   content
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Many DAW's can do this using EQ automation. It can also be done applying a standard EQ to boost certain frequencies of one instrument while cutting the same frequencies of another instrument that's competing at those same frequencies.
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#617902 - 10/05/20 03:39 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Tangmo Offline
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Thanks, Charlie. The latter is something I'm familiar with and try to do, but for what I'm thinking about is overkill. I'll look into EQ automation.
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#617921 - 10/05/20 05:13 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Mike Halloran Offline
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There are plugins that can make a sonic “hole” to give space for the vocal. WacesFactory TrackSpacer is one
TrackSpacer

And Izotope’s recent update to Nectar 3 is another
Nectar 3 Plus
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#618048 - 10/06/20 02:32 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Simon - PG Music Offline
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Tangmo - I think it would work well enough if you sidechained a multiband compressor or dynamic EQ. It wouldn't be compressing the exact frequencies from the vocal track, but if you set up a few bands of compression across the main part of the vocal range it would probably do what you want. Take a look at the TDR Nova for a great free 4-band dynamic EQ.
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#618070 - 10/06/20 05:45 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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rockstar_not Offline
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I don’t understand the ‘vs.’ in the title.

What do backing tracks have to do with sidechain compression?

Probably the first use of sidechain compression that everyone knows is automatic volume reduction of program audio when a radio announcer is speaking. Usually using a very long release on the compressor.

What you describe can certainly be done with a DAW with a modular signal path like Tracktion.

Split the vocal channel and send the split to an EQ that passes the frequencies you want to cut in the other track. Take the output of that EQ as the ‘key’ for the sidechain. The signal that you want to ‘cut’ should also be split. One side, let it go to the mix buss, the other side you send through the sidechain. On the output of the sidechain put an EQ on of the frequencies to cut on command.

See how this works?

It’s just eq’ed sidechain

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#618086 - 10/06/20 08:16 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Tangmo Offline
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Thanks, all. And Mike, That track Spacer seems very promising and I will likely have a copy soon.

What it appears to do is what I was asking about, albeit with 32 bands of EQ rather than specific points. Still...32 bands is pretty significant "honing".

I don't want to "duck" the overall volume of a track against the vocals. I don't want to carve out the entire EQ range of the vocals from the track I'm looking to affect. Both of those have their purposes. I want to keep the overall level of the track as high as possible, just "ducking" the frequencies present in the vocals so there is reduced conflict. From watching the demos and a few testimonials, Track Spacer fits the bill in ways that other methods currently don't. The Hi and Lo pass/cut filters are a good addition.

Here's an example: You have a vocal and a piano. Broadly speaking, they are going to share much of the same frequency range. And the amount they share at any one time is going to be shifting constantly. The ideal (for me) is to compress on the piano ONLY those frequencies currently on the vocal track.

My first thoughts on this were about how to seat vocals (or perhaps other instruments) better into the mix without endless tinkering. The more I think about it, the more applications I can imagine. I think it would work well in separating two acoustic guitars (a main and a support), in carving out some space for a lead instrument against pads, and in "arpeggiating" pads, etc. in a more extreme application. Imagine a synth (or drum?) loop triggering 32 bands of compression on the EQ of a synth pad or line, where both remain "up front" and banging.


Edited by Tangmo (10/06/20 08:30 PM)
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#618171 - 10/07/20 10:07 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Charlie Fogle Online   content
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It appears you're wanting the two competing frequency sharing instruments (vocal and piano in your example) to set together better in the overall mix. Although you're correct that the two will share much of the frequency range and the amount they share at any one time is going to be constantly shifting, it's the range that's critical to achieve a better mix between the two instruments.

Using the Piano and Vocal example, cut a range of frequencies shared by both instruments on one instrument and boost those same frequencies on the other. Since vocals are king of a mix, I'd cut the piano and boost the vocals. You are simply carving out some space to give the vocals free space to sit into the mix and reducing competition. Done correctly and sparsely, you don't really hear it. The vocals just clearly cut through the overall mix. It's a common technique.
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#618225 - 10/07/20 03:12 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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rharv Offline
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Also, simply compressing the vocals to begin with can help a lot to bring them out front, which seems like what you are after.
(multiband compressor even better so you have more control)

Once the vocals stand out more, less frequency tinkering on other tracks is needed.
That coupled with panning the other sounds around the centered vocal may reduce the need for what you are trying to do.
Just a thought
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#618260 - 10/07/20 07:52 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Tangmo Offline
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Thanks, all, for the input. It seems like I forgot much of what I knew about mixing in the decade or so I was away from music-making.

I think Track Spacer would come closer to what I am trying to "invent" if it had like 512 or 1024 bands of EQ. I'm no software developer, but I have to think that isn't impossible--merely unworkable on most computers, maybe.

I will use the methods you've listed where they make sense, which will probably be "usually", but I'm still interested in that plug-in for instances where I think it can do better/be more precise. And in instances where I just want to have some sonic fun.
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#618304 - 10/08/20 05:19 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Side-chain compression for vocals vs. backing tracks? [Re: Tangmo]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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The masking feature of Izotope’s Neutron 2/3 is designed to address this issue. It isolates the specific frequencies where two or more tracks are in conflict and allows you to manipulate them on one screen. Easy and effective.

Bud

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