Compressor / Sound equipment

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Compressor / Sound equipment

Postby DrJJO » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:38 pm

Greetings -

First time poster here, tried to find a specific answer in priors but no luck...

I lead an acappella group at Kansas State University. We just invested in new sound equipment. My question is regarding using compressors. From what I understand (just learning in the past two weeks...) compression is an insert vs. an aux channel and thus if I wanted to have compression on each individual singer (variable) I'll need each channel to have it's own. Thus 8-10 channels (or 5 stereo (2) channel compressors. As opposed to having compression laid over the full house mix. I am afraid to invest that if I don't need it. I'd rather spend more money on 1 nice compressor (800-1000) vs. a bunch of less expensive units. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Mackie 1640i Firewire Mixer
JBL PRX612 (mains)
JBL 518S
Behringer powered monitors
DBX Driverack Powered Speaker Optimizer
Individual SM58 for each singer (8) and VP (split signal into two channels to eq kick and snare/cymbal separate)
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Re: Compressor / Sound equipment

Postby Christian » Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:03 pm


Compression can be used at several stages in the signal flow. For pop a cappella, it is often used on individual channels to keep any individual voice, phrase, or syllable from getting too loud (or too soft). This means EACH channel needs a separate compressor. And yes, a "stereo" compressor can be used on two separate channels.

You can use compression on the master buss ("full house mix"), but if one voice gets louder than the rest and hits the compressor, it will bring the whole mix down (i.e. all the voices), which means your balance problem is not fixed. It just keeps the audience from getting blasted or your speakers from being blown.

As you start to do the math, you can see that buying compressors for every channel can get expensive, and it also means more gear you have to move. This is a big selling point for digital sound boards: compression is built-in to each channel.

While you decide what you do with your gear, the BEST thing you can do it to work on your mic technique and rehearse with the microphones as much as possible.

Good luck!
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Re: Compressor / Sound equipment

Postby DrJJO » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:55 pm

Thank you so much for your response. This was kinda what I was thinking. I did actually find some gear in a storage closet that I was able to get a hold of. I found (3) Behringer Multicom MDX4600XL - which I think are 4 channel compressors. Not sure how well they work but since we have 8 singers + V.P. I assume that means we can go with 1 compressor per channel plus one for the house mix...for a total of 10? Your explanation makes sense about applying the compression on each channel as opposed to just the full house mix.

Now I'll just do my best to figure out how to hook it all up!

Thanks again!
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Re: Compressor / Sound equipment

Postby lenatsider » Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:07 pm

A compressor can be extremely useful - even indispensable - in live sound applications. Some performers don't like them, and if the choice is between over-compressed or no compression at all, no compression at all would get most people's vote in most situations. Also, compression can have other undesirable effects (greater sensitivity to feedback for one, and noise for another), so compressors are certainly not one-way tickets to a better sound.
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