My usual vocal chain is Shure SM7b, Api 512c, Wavearts Track5 (which I only use the Gate section) and Izotope Nectar. Recently I took my API Lunchbox and SM7b to a friends house to record. He didn’t have any plug-ins on his computer and I realized he needed compression on his vocals. When I bought my Lunchbox and 512c I also bought an API 527 compressor. It’s always been in the Lunchbox but I rarely use it. In fact, I’m ashamed to say I just use software compressors, mostly presets and never really figured out how to set my 527. That’s what this post is all about. This is a question to Wire to the Ear readers. What would be a good setting on my 527 compressor for vocals. What’s a good starter setting and what should I adjust?
I’ve already asked a friend (Cesar B. de Guzman aka @cyndiseui) on Instagram. I set my 527 as he thought would be a good start. He makes a lot of music but what do you think?
“527 is a VCA comp that has a very fast attack response. U could do this ratio 1 til 3. Attack 3 o clock. Release 8-9 o’clock. Set to new if you want something sparkling style or old as punch vintage type… The only thing you could adjust yrself is threshold. Technically you could leave from 2 to 3 db down from the threshold as a starter.” – cyndiseui
For Xmas my brother got me an Olloclip. It’s a clip on wide angle, fisheye and macro lens for the iPhone. The results are really great. Just look at that macro shot of an API 512c micpre knob!
“The API 512c remains faithful to the circuit designs of API’s founder, Saul Walker. Fully featured and still hand assembled, the 512c carefully preserves the original sound character that made it so much a part of the early days of recording. Offering high headroom and a wide variety of inputs and input access points, it is equally at home in the commercial recording studio as it is in the home project studio.” – apiaudio.com
A few weeks ago I was contacted by API (Automated Processes Inc) to say a few words about my API Lunchbox, 512C mic pre and 527 compressor. There is little reason not to endorse the American company which makes my vocals sound better than any string of plug-ins. As you can tell by this blog I enjoy music tech as much as making music and in the past I’ve endorsed products from TC Electronic, D16 and Linplug Instruments. If you have been on the fence deciding which brand of high end micpre to get just grab a 512c and be done with it. You won’t regret it.
“The 512c brings my voice from somewhere low behind the speakers directly into the center of my brain.” – Oliver Chesler
Here’s a few photos from this weeks studio upgrade. I’ve waited too long to add an API Lunchbox to my life. Within a few minutes of hooking up the 512c mic pre I was ear to ear smiling. Ableton’s routing makes things extra awesome because I can send any channel out to the Lunchbox and back with just a few clicks. The 512c also has seperate Mic and Line inputs with a toggle switch. It’s all very convenient and sounds absolutely awesome. I sent some softsynths, drum machines and iPad all quickly through the 512c and 527 compressor and back. The overal mix simply shined clearly. Once I added vocals also through the new toys and a new Shure SM7b mic everything turned into magic. Why did I wait so long?
“Founded in 1968, Automated Processes Inc. (or API) are manufacturers of high-end recording studio equipment including stand-alone preamplifier designs, equalization units and mixing consoles. They are perhaps most noted for their modular approach to equipment manufacture with their trademark lunchbox design which allows preamplifier, compressor and equalizer modules to be added to a recording studio design as budget allows. These modules include the 512c preamp, the 525 compressor, the 527 compressor, the 550a and 550b semi-parametric equalizers, and the 560 graphic equalizer.” – Wikipedia
I’ve used these API units in Lunchbox form and they are amazing. I once did a A/B test comparing my mic with 5 Powercore plug-ins vs a lone API 512c compressor. No matter how I tweaked things the raw 512c killed it. The new Channel Strip puts the very best API has to offer in a single rackmount unit. Expect a street price around $2700. If you do vocals and your sticking with making music for the next 10+ years it’s worth the price.
“The Channel Strip is made up of a 512c mic pre, our famous 550A EQ, the 527 Compressor and the 325 Line Driver, combining many well-known and highly coveted pieces in one package. Each processing piece can be switched in or bypassed individually and a Flip switch allows the compressor to be placed after the EQ if desired. Additionally, The Channel Strip includes an insert point, sidechain input, multiple metering locations as well as the famous API 2520/transformer combination.” – apiaudio.com
A real analog kick processed by some monster hardware boxes. Record it 65 ways and give it away free. That’s what Wave Alchemy just did. Hey, it got me to their site to look around.
“65 24-bit 100% royalty free kick drum (Jomox AIRBase 99) samples which have been recorded through an A-grade signal chain including devices such as the Thermionic Culture Vulture, Empirical Labs Distressor and API 512c pre-amp.” – wavealchemy.co.uk
“The tracks and city information is fetched from the SoundCloud API–in fact the list of cities and tracks is even updated in real time as new tracks roll into SoundCloud. Additionally, pictures for each city are fetched from Flickr.” – blog.soundcloud.com
Check it out for yourself and let me know which city your think is producing the best tunes: http://citysounds.fm/
The National Association of Music Merchants otherwise known as NAMM met for their summer event last week in Austin, Texas Nashville, TN. Here’s the new gear and software I personally thought was interesting. I know some of these are not actual NAMM debuts but they fall in the “outed summer 08” category and were featured at the show.
Korg nanoSERIES. These small, flat and inexpensive controllers are just what a lot of musicians have been waiting for. These are perfect to toss in a laptop bag. The nanoKEY, nanoPAD and nanoKONTROL will be available in October and will each be under $150. link
The Moog Guitar. Some people are scratching their heads on this one. A Guitar from Moog? Would Bob approve? According to Moog (the company) this was being planned when Bob was still with us. Personally, I have no problem with the idea. My main gripe so far is that all the video demos I’ve seen of the M.G. in action are not too impressive. The first of the Moog Guitars available is the The Paul Vo Collector Edition which will cost you $6,495.00. link
Arsenal Audio. A new brand from API. A few years ago a friend of mine brought a filled API lunchbox into my studio and hooked it up to my microphone. My voice never sounded so good and never has since. API as a company knows what they are doing so when they launch a new division I’m ready to give it a chance. I’m not totally sure why they need to branch off. Are these built in China or something? If they sound good I won’t care. Three products kick it off: the V14 4 Band VPR 500 Format Equalizer (fits in a lunchbox), the R 20 2 Channel Mic Pre and R 24 2 Channel 4 Band EQ. link
MOTU Digital Performer 6. I’m an Ableton Live fanatic but competition is what keeps the sequencer space evolving at high speed so DP6 is very welcome. This is the true Mac sequencer. Was born on a mac and always lived there so let’s give the guy some respect. What are the new tidbits DP6 has to offer? A new interface, Track comping, Masterworks Leveler plug-in, ProVerb Convolution plug-in, Final Cut Pro Integration, Enhanced Pro-Tools HD support and Direct Audio CD burning. Not bad! link
SPL Phonitor. Imagine you could mix solely in headphones. Imagine you wouldn’t have to pay for a studio space somewhere far away from cranky neighbors. The Phonitor could be the first product that could make this dream a reality. This is a high end piece of hardware costing about $2k. You spend a few minutes dialing in parameters to match the sound of your speakers with your headphones and viola! I can’t wait to read reviews and hear from users of this product. We need this to work! link
So those are the new things that really peaked my interest. Roland continued to bore me with it’s new Juno Stage and of course there were more amazing Melodyne Direct Note Access demos. Sonic State and Sound on Sound have some great videos from the show floor worth checking out. Did I miss something you really liked?