Vocal Tracking Chain & Acoustic Guitars

Hi Sylvia,

I hope you’re doing well.

In your book “Recording Unhinged,” you mentioned a magic combination for capturing exciting and dynamic vocal performances. You described it as a chain consisting of a Neve 1073, a UA 175b, and a Urei 1176. I was wondering if you could explain why you start with a slower compressor going into a faster compressor/limiter, and what your usual start-up ratio is for the 1176.

Most of the people I’ve worked with so far start a similar chain with 1176 to reduce signal peaks and then compress the rest of the signal by a slower unit. However, I’ve noticed that using an 1176-style compressor at the end of the dynamic control chain helps to reduce its “harsh” characteristics and doesn’t colour the vocal as much as the other way around, but I might have fooled myself.

If there is room for the following questions, do you have any personal go-to acoustic guitar tracking/mixing?

Thank you very much in advance for the answer.

An admirer of your work,


Since every vocal situation is different, it is hard to say what the settings are on the 175b and 1176. I ask the vocalist to “get loud” and I’ll set the 175b to softly control the loudest passages while allowing the soft prases to be heard. The 1176 is set to capture any transients that poke out during a dynamic vocal performance. I’ve tried many combinations and different orders of things and like the 175b into the 1176 the best.


As far as acoustic guitars, there are usually two recording scenarios I come across. One way is to treat the acoustic like a percussive rhythm instrument. I will record in mono with a dynamic mic for this, usually a Shure SM57. It gives the guitar a woody sound. Perfect for rhythm parts. The other type of acoustic recording is for more melodic parts. For this I will use a condenser mic. The Soyuz SU-017 is a nice tube mic for that, or a Neumann U 47 will sparkle. On rare occasions I will record acoustic in stereo but find the details usually get lost in the track.

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