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On using master compression when playing live
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author On using master compression when playing live
morgve
Hi all,

Do you use master compression on your mixes when playing live? By that I mean:

- Hardware solutions (like RNLA, Boum, etc...)
- Gentle "glue" settings to keep everything tight
- Maybe some "limiter" settings to catch unexpected volume spikes

How do you set this up? Is it worth it?

I was thinking of grabbing a Boum to just add a bit of body and glue all the instruments together.

In this case, I would route the main outs of my mixer to the Boum and then straight from the Boum to the PA. Is that ok?

Thank for your help nanners.
mckenic
Take this with as many grains of salt as needed as I have only played live twice but once was in an art gallery and the other was in a theatre.

1st time I just showed up patched and went stereo out to the gallery mixer - our university was providing the sound so I knew the gear was tip top and didnt worry.

2nd time I had no idea what I was walking into so I brought my RNC and as I needed one anyway and MylarMelodies recommended it, I got a Radial Pro D2. So I went from the stereo outs to the D2 and from the D2 to the RNC initially with fairly aggressive settings. During the soundcheck I could let the modular play and walked around the theatre and realized I could back off on the compression. Show went very well and should more gigs present themselves thats what Im going to use.

Hope this is some help to you!
PhineasFreak
i'm curious about the reasons for wanting compressio/limiting on output for live stuff - is it worrying about loud peaks/spikes causing damage to gear? or just for getting nice sound?

i always assume it sounds as good as it does going into my interface when in the studio...
mckenic
Well personally its for catching peaks etc for me.

I dont play traditional sequenced or pitched stuff, more abstract sound stage so Im often grabbing the pitch of an osc when jamming and freaking out on it so as you know it can often go from lfo range clicks to ear bleedingly high pitch in a very quick time. Need to catch those peaks!

Edit - and of course as morgve says it kinda glues everything together (for me).
PhineasFreak
is it realisitc to ask for a recommendation of a suitable hardwar limiter purely for killing peaks?

i'm in the process of filling a new case to be drims and percussives which will have a lot of feedback loops, and possibilities of relatively unexpected sounds - i would like to look into such protection just in case its needed

[to get an idea of what to expect bugetwise and so on]
xthrasherx
Are you looking to for something in your case (e.g WMD MSCL in eurorack) or separate hardware solution (RNC, RNLA, etc)?
PhineasFreak
xthrasherx wrote:
Are you looking to for something in your case (e.g WMD MSCL in eurorack) or separate hardware solution (RNC, RNLA, etc)?


unless there's something that works out as cheap/effective as outboard gear and isn't huge in hp i guess outboard - i don't know what's required in a limiter to make it suitable for the task and i'veassumed the eurorack solutions were not really designed for such purposes...
xthrasherx
PhineasFreak wrote:
xthrasherx wrote:
Are you looking to for something in your case (e.g WMD MSCL in eurorack) or separate hardware solution (RNC, RNLA, etc)?


unless there's something that works out as cheap/effective as outboard gear and isn't huge in hp i guess outboard - i don't know what's required in a limiter to make it suitable for the task and i'veassumed the eurorack solutions were not really designed for such purposes...


I’d say give the WMD MSCL a look. It is fairly small footprint (4hp) and works well as a “master bus” compressor/ limiter. It can be abused for effect if wanted or sidechained of course, but unlike a lot of Eurorack offerings, it doesn’t offer cv over any parameters and is stereo. I haven’t touched my RNLA since I got the MSCL. I have both specifically for “live” situations which even though I’m mostly jamming in my studio, I tend work with a lot of feedback based patches, so it’s nice to have something in the chain to protect everything else lol
PhineasFreak
oh wow! thats awesome - i can easily cram a module that small in with the mixer and other compression tool setc - easy to put on master bus or even as a channel effect when desired etc
cool - much than for recommendation smile
Navs
We did this a couple of times with Basic Electricity concerts to limit the final level/protect the speakers. This is sensible/necessary in small venues and works well until you get a musician who does battle with the limiter; the limiter will win and the music suffers. With or without limiter, and if possible, a soundcheck is probably wise.

On Powwow live streams, Hainbach and Dr. Wiener used a Bugbrand for glue and to protect audio interface input levels, which I guess was even more important/essential than in a live situation.

I used an FMR RNLA once at one of those streams. I set it for effect, to pump one particular patch. It sounded great live over the small speakers but overly squashed when I listened back to the recording. That may have been user error, but I personally wouldn't bother with a bus compressor again.
morgve
Thanks for your feedback everyone!

It pretty much goes in the direction of what I had in mind already, it might be a "risky" idea. I can imagine how it can easily turn into a battle against the compressor - it probably makes more sense to try and reach a decent mix... and let the audience's ears work their natural compression magic.

I've been looking for a Bugbrand SC for a while though - those are hard to grab these days smile.
Nagasaki45
Another possible solution, although not ideal and depends on the style or sound you are aiming for, is to have a mixer / filter that saturates to your taste close to the end of the audio chain with high gain settings. It's completely different approach to compressing the sound, but can definitely absorbs peaks. I usually have one eurorack voice going through the bastl cinnamon as the last thing before the audio interface, with gain quite high. The channels on my mixer (A&H zed10fx) are also set with quite high gain, and the volume adjusted not to clip the master bus. Yes, channels might clip, but it's rarely obvious and my music is noisy anyway. I assume that in eurorack the manhattan analog DTM mixer or similar can be used even better for this purpose (although I've never tried).
anomie
Navs wrote:
We did this a couple of times with Basic Electricity concerts to limit the final level/protect the speakers. With or without limiter, and if possible, a soundcheck is probably wise.


Wise words. Setting levels should be done in a soundcheck, and if you're worried about peaks, making friends with the soundman or just doing a runthrough is a better solution that slapping a limiter on your 2mix.
Steevio
I dont use compression anywhere, in the studio, or live.
I'm always very conscious of my levels, and always keep everything under control.
I actually have a bank of tube/ analogue compressors in my studio and I never use them, I prefer to hear the raw sound coming from the modular, and live I mix everything in an analogue mixer and keep an eye on the levels and never have any problems.
Because I effectively take my studio rig out when I play, ive had so much practice on it that I leave the mixer settings exactly as they are in the studio so that I barely need to soundcheck, i just know everything is right.
Virusinstaller
Godsbox lollipop the new DIY compressor looks cool.
I played live recently in a gallery with Bitbox, Assimil8or & ER-301 & took a recording and a couple of time the Assimil8or had a couple of loud surprises in there for me.
ersatzplanet
To do hard limiting well, that is to do limiting ONLY when there are dangerous peaks present, to act quickly on those peaks and to get out of the way when they are not there, and to not react to low frequencies wrong and chatter because of them, you need a Compressor/limiter with a good RMS detection circuit and good fast VCAs. Almost all studio 1U rack limiters will do this well. The "name brand" ones especially. Companies like DBx and Urban have been making C/L's for decades and have tuned their units to the best you can get. I used to work for a company, Symetrix, and we made a series of very good Compressor/Limiters using top notch THAT corp VCAs and a great RMS detection circuit. Avoid "Soft Knee" compressors if Limiting is your focus. They may be better at compression without wheezing and pumping, but may not be fast enough for the accidental High-Q sweep over the fundamental or other accidental loud signals a synth can produce. There are many older generation C/L's on eBay that will work well. Just set one between your final out and the house mixer and all will be well. Many house rigs have limiters in them already. They want to protect their speakers too.
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