Old 02-13-2018, 06:53 AM   #1
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Default signal path question

Hi All,
Pretty new to reaper but lots of old school know how.
My setup is very basic, using a steinburg MkII.
If I run a mic into the steinburg, is the signal going straight to "tape"?
In other words, if I apply a compressor in that channels efx chain, isn't it POST recording?
I know I can put my rack compressor between the mic and the steinburg, but I was hoping to insert the plug in compressor (within reaper) PRE recording.
Am I missing something here?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-13-2018, 07:13 AM   #2
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Hello Dansgrandpapa and welcome to these forums. You'll find many helpful people here and a lot of useful information. Make sure that you:
It all depends on what you want to do.
(a) If you add an FX to the Reaper track, then yes, it will be applied to the recorded audio ("post-recording"). That way, you can change the FX, add other FX etc, without having to record the track again.
(b) Or you can add FX as Input FX; they will be applied to the audio input before it is recorded. But that it a bit inflexible Right-click the [IN] button for the menu to get to the Input FX chain.

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Old 02-13-2018, 11:38 AM   #3
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Yes you can. No (IMNSHO) you shouldn't.

A compressor on the InputFX does nothing useful. It can't help keep you from clipping the interface because it comes after that stage.

One might argue that it forces you to make a real decision and commit to it. That's a valid argument, but then you could insert the compressor, set it where you want it and then never change it again. In hardware you sometimes just don't have enough channels of compression to leave everything patched and set all the way through tracking and mixdown. In any decent modernish computer, though, you can have about as many as you want. And if/when you do run out of resources, then you can Freeze/Render - commit and remove the compressor, but you'll still be able to get back if you need/want.

So go ahead, be confident, make your decision, but on that one occasion when you're way into mixing and realize that this one decision was completely (or even just slightly) wrong, you'll have the option to change it without having to retrack.

Also, TBH, Volume Automation is often better at leveling vocals and almost always sounds better when it comes before the compressor. Unless you're going way old school and riding the interface gain levels in realtime during tracking, probably just leave all that for after.
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Old 02-14-2018, 06:18 AM   #4
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Thanks guys! That's what I was missing!Thanks for the unparalleled support! I did go ahead and bought the book, I just have not the due diligence of reading the whole thing just yet! Again, thanks!
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:23 AM   #5
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I know I can put my rack compressor between the mic and the steinburg,
Actually, no... Compressors work at line-level, after the preamp. Except there are "channel strips" that combine a preamp, compressor, and EQ.

There are couple of reasons for using real-time compression. A hardware compressor/limiter can prevent clipping on "unexpected peaks". Software limiting doesn't help with that because the audio is clipped before the software sees it. But, if you leave yourself headroom that's not necessary.

Or, your singer may like the sound of the compression (and sometimes reverb) and it may allow him/her to perform better. Those effects can be hardware or software, but with hardware effects in the monitoring path you don't have to deal with latency. You don't have to record those effects.
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