How to Simplify Parallel Compression for Vocals: StudioRack Unchained

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Producer/mixer Chris Baseford (Nickelback, Shinedown, Rob Zombie) shows you how to control a complex plugin chain for lead vocals, based on two layers of parallel compression – with his ‘Chris Baseford Lead Vocals’ chain preset, included in the free StudioRack plugin chainer.

Chris Baseford about his ‘Lead Vocal’ StudioRack Chain:

“What I love about StudioRack is that it enables me to do what I’ve been doing in Pro Tools for years, but simplifies it all. Before StudioRack when I worked with parallel processing, I would have plugins across multiple auxiliary tracks which combine down to one final dedicated buss for summing my complete vocal mixing chain. While this worked, I often found this approach overly complicated. The extra tracks I needed to do this also took up a lot of real estate in my DAW. As you can imagine, working this way didn't make it easy for saving and recalling entire chains and presets for use in other sessions. For me, StudioRack solves all those problems."

“My Lead Vocals chain is based around two side-by-side layers of parallel compression summed all within a single instance of StudioRack. To be more specific, before StudioRack my chain took up one audio track for a vocal, two stereo auxiliary tracks for two different parallel compressors and one addition aux track for summing the chain, which isn’t the case anymore.”

How to Simplify Parallel Compression for Vocals

“The plugins I use in this chain start with NLS Channel for adding some console saturation, Vocal Rider for evening out level before hitting compressors, F6 for filtering and dynamic EQ, and V-EQ4 for silky smooth broad stroke analog style EQ.”

“After these four inline plugins, I then incorporated my two favorite side-by-side parallel dynamics tools being CLA-76 and PuigChild compressors. As StudioRack makes using multiple parallel racks so easy I included an additional rack for aggressive sounding L1 UltraMaximizer limiting. This three-rack parallel split then automatically feeds back into the main single lane of StudioRack running into Sibilance for taming harshness, followed by an SSL E-Channel for further EQ, and, at the end of the chain, the amazing Abbey Road Saturator for adding color and richness.”

‘Lead Vocal’ – Macro Controls

  1. Rider Target controls sensitivity value in Vocal Rider
  2. Rider Output sets makeup gain in Vocal Rider if required
  3. F6 MIX controls EQ wet/dry balance
  4. F6 OUT sets output level of F6 EQ
  5. VEQ HMF controls gain of 2.7 kHz high-mid frequency band
  6. VEQ HF controls gain of 15 kHz high frequency band
  7. DeEss Thrs sets Sibilance threshold value
  8. AR Excite sets mix level in Abbey Road Saturator

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