The context is live PA, not recorded.

So I deal with a singer that has a very full voice -- the power is all over the low mids. It's actually a great strong voice. There's a catch...

Her mic technique is a bit rubbish and so she needs a compressor.

Thence lies the problem. Her voice is already plenty thick enough without a compressor. using a compressor basically means that to get any diction or separation from the piano at all means taking so much out of her voice that it loses much of its characteristic.

Hence the question in the title. Yes, I want to have my cake and eat it.

  • in the studio I'd use a multi band comp, so you can adjust the frequency balance over the dynamic range. Not sure if such a solution is available for live.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9, 2015 at 10:08
  • @Tetsujin Could you explain more about this technique? I have a realtime multiband compressor I could actually use -- would require a bit of wrangling but would work. Jun 5, 2015 at 10:13

2 Answers 2


For your situation I would at first consider teaching the singer better mic technique, if it is acceptable.

From technical side if her sound is too thick after compression I would use EQ and gently cut those low mids. You could also try little compression on piano to get better dynamic separation from processed voice.

  • It's a great idea. However she's a "professional" singer. So this is tricky. Jun 5, 2015 at 10:30
  • I would use the EQ after compression, also. And definitely process the piano also. Theoretically the voice is more important than the piano so the piano should be pushed out of the way a little bit. Give the piano a spot (or maybe two since a piano has such a wide range) to live in and then pull it back from everywhere else. I can't imagine a piano live without some decent compression on it - the dynamic range is just too great. Jun 5, 2015 at 18:51

you could try adjusting the attack and release of the compressor to just tighten it up or maybe try limiting instead of compressing. Any dynamic processing is going to throw the frequency spectrum off at least a little bit so sticking an EQ before or after might be a way to go.

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