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For recording - compress within the DAW or use a pedal?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by kesslari, May 7, 2018.


  1. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Which is preferable, generally? (I can guess that the answer would depend on which pedal and which VST). Or perhaps the better question - what are pros and cons of each?
     
  2. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    Depends on the player and the style of music. And if the song requires a dynamic style of bass lines. If the player is solid, you can do the compression in the DAW. With the latest DAWs and interfaces, you have a lot of headroom to work with. Thus, in the DAW would be the better way to go. Also, you can make adjustments to the compression after the fact. Once you compress too much on the track while recording, it takes a lot of surgery to repair that track, and the sound may or may not be ideal.
     
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  3. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    Audio interfaces have huge amounts of headroom. Much more than existed in the past even for high end studios. Might as well grab all the dynamics you can in the raw recorded track, then play with compression both on the track and on the whole mix afterwards. It's easier to add in when you need it, than to take it out when you don't.
    Tracks are cheap, so split your signal and try recording one track raw, and one with your pedal and then see what you can do more with in the mixdown.
     
    Badwater likes this.
  4. Aloe

    Aloe

    Apr 10, 2016
    Ukraine
    I've been playing with this for a while and I'd say that generally compression in DAW is better.
    the reason for it is that's it's easy to overcompress or not compress enough when compressor is baked in on the source track. you will be able to fix that in DAW, but it will sound worse that recording a non-compressed signal and compressing it in DAW.

    I will say more: I sold my Markbass Compressore once I figured out I can make the same sound in my DAW.

    if your sound source has huge peaks (like some wild envelope filter), you might need a limiter. this is not the case for most applications though.

    some folks will say a good channel strip with EQ and comp won't hurt and is also a good way to record, if you set it correctly before recording. but they will add that a good channel strip is expensive as well, the cheap ones are likely to be outperformed by your DAW.
     
    Badwater and Whousedtoplay like this.
  5. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Endless levels of undo in the digital domain have made people cowards with tracking. If you have a great sounding pedal compressor or rack unit, go ahead and track with it. Just make sure to take the extra time to really dial it in up front, and maybe use more mild settings (you can always run a plugin as well to add more, but you can't decompress later). Plus you could just split the signal and send one raw and one compressed.

    Always remember, the plugin is just trying to recreate what the pedal is doing, using math. But sometimes transistors and capacitors and whatnot sound better than math. Now, I wouldn't use a $40 (B word) pedal to track with, but even a dynacomp or similar could yield really good results depending on the circumstances. And then it's one less plugin you have to put on your mix using up processor power and ram.
     
  6. Aloe

    Aloe

    Apr 10, 2016
    Ukraine
    err, not really. this thing is called expander. it works to a some degree.
    I agree that overcompressed audio is evil though.
     
  7. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    I like both. Light compression to even things out and keep from peaking the meters in my DAW, and then more compression as necessary with plugins. Sometimes multiple plugins.
     
    warrplayer likes this.
  8. warrplayer

    warrplayer

    Apr 16, 2008
    Charlotte, NC
    Your question seems a bit vague. What do recording bassists prefer? Producers? Can I scrape by without an expensive hardware compressor? Sometimes for bass a compressor is an important part of the signal chain that contributes significantly to the part being played. Both options should certainly be available at all times if you are going to be recording other bassists. On a shoestring budget either option will render usable results.
     

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