[Ardour-Users] Parallel compression - Was OT: bus strain on computer resources

John Rigg au2 at jrigg.co.uk
Thu Dec 13 12:55:47 PST 2012

On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 07:47:55PM +0000, John Rigg wrote:
> Bob Ohlsson described doing that, either in an interview or on a web
> forum. I can't remember where, unfortunately, but I do remember the
> procedure he described. Lead vocals were sometimes recorded to two
> separate tracks, one normally and one heavily compressed with boosted
> HF. As a result quiet parts of a vocal track would still cut through
> an instrument-heavy (for the time) mix. The tape was too noisy to do
> this on playback so it had to be recorded that way. (There's a
> possibility I'm not remembering it correctly, but I'll see if I can
> find it again.)

Here's a quote from one of Bob Olhsson's posts on R/E/P PSW forum
which at least confirms they were using parallel compression (but
suggests my memory wasn't entirely accurate regarding the details):

"Was the distortion on Motown vocals ever intentional?...

We'd have certainly preferred that it wasn't! Our home brew 8-track had
very limited high frequency response on the outside tracks along with hum.
For that reason we put the lead vocal on track 1 and the bass on track 8.  

The bass was recorded as hot as we could get away with so it would cover up
the hum. The lead vocal was high-passed to get rid of the hum and then
parallel-compressed with the highs boosted on the compressor return to give
it presence. The return was also often run through a Fairchild Auto-Ten noise
gate. It was a cool, if distorted effect. It sounded like crap with the 16
track machines so we stopped doing it around 1968."

The forum thread this came from is at


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