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9 Famous Vocal Compressors

  • 1. Universal Audio 1176

    This work horse compressor can be heard on loads of recordings such as Supertamp’s Logical Song. Also: pretty much all the Bowie stuff and anything that came out of Trident Studios in London.

  • 2. Universal Audio LA-2A

    One of my faves on vocals and bass. Producer Joe Chiccarelli used this box for Jack’s vocals for the White Stripes. The LA-2A is a valve compressor, so you can drive the output stage and generate a very cool tube, distorted sound.

  • 3. AMS-Neve 33609

    You can hear this unit at work on the vocals of Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield. And you can hear it on some Celine Dion work as well.

  • 4. Manley Variable-Mu

    This unit has become a hit within the mastering circuit, so you’ve probably heard it on thousands of records. It’s a valve-Fairchild-style compressor. Ka’s The Night’s Gambit features the Vari-Mu. Lewis Watson’s voice on Some Songs with Some Friends was treated with it as well.

  • 5. Empirical Labs Distressor

    Coldplay’s Violet Hill features the Distressor on vocals; Neko Case’s vocals on her latest album went through it too.

  • 6. Cranesong STC-8

    Again, a regular in the mastering world. Sheryl Crow and Garbage use it as part of their touring rig. Alison Krauss’s Paper Airplane has the STC-8 on the mandolin and the acoustic guitar. And it was used during Roger Waters’ The Wall tour on the basses.

  • 7. Fairchild 670/660

    You’ll hear it on a lot of Beatles stuff as Geoff Emerick loves these units. They are no longer made and if you do find one, you’ll pay a lot of moolah for it. However, there’s a fantastic re-issue on the market for half the price and it’s made by Analogue Tube.

  • 8. Solid State Logic FX G384 (buss compressor):

    According to Billboard, 74.5% of No.1 U.S. singles were recorded on an SSL G series. More recently, you can hear it in action on Aerosmith’s latest work.

  • 9. EMI TG 12413

    (Or the Chandler Re-issue) The TG1 was used extensively on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

Chris Kennedy is the principal product reviewer for voicecouncil.com. Chris is a musician in the United Kingdom – you can see more about his work at www.chriskennedymusic.co.uk You can also see more articles by Chris here.