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How To Get The Best Vocal Recordings using Outboard Gear

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Welcome back to, your go-to resource for professional audio production insights! Today, we delve deep into the art of crafting the best way to record vocals, exploring a vocal chain that has garnered acclaim across the Boston studio scene and beyond. Join us as we unravel the magic of combining the Neve 5052, Purple MC77, and Tube-Tech CL1b to elevate your vocal recording quality to new heights.

Neve 5052 Preamp: The Foundation of Clarity and Warmth

neve 5052 preamp with the red silk saturation setting enabled

The journey to impeccable vocal quality begins with the Neve 5052, a legendary preamp and EQ unit revered for its pristine sound and versatile tonal shaping capabilities. In our studios, we understand the importance of a solid foundation, and the Neve 5052 delivers just that. Its transformer-coupled preamp ensures that your vocals retain their natural warmth and richness, providing a smooth canvas for further processing.

But the Neve 5052 isn’t just about amplification; its EQ section is a powerful tool for sculpting the perfect tonal balance. Whether you’re looking to add some airiness to the vocals or enhance the midrange presence, the Neve 5052 offers unparalleled precision. We use the Red Silk saturation mode on all of our Neve units, and find that setting the intensity to about 50% gives a nice powerful boost to the high end.

Purple MC77 Audio Compressor: Taming Peaks

Next in line in our premium vocal chain is the Purple MC77, a compressor known for its ability to infuse vocals with a vintage vibe and audible punch. The Purple MC77 is FET style compressor akin to the legendary 1176. We appreciate gear that can add character to a mix, and the Purple MC77 does just that.

If you’re in the market for your first compressor, the MC77 is a great one to start with. The controls are straightforward, and it’s about half the price of other rackmount compressors.

studio equipment rack with an apollo x8, a tube-tech cl1b, and an mc77 limiting amplifier

With its fast attack and release settings, the Purple MC77 ensures that your vocals are compressed in a way that squeezes the loudest, most dynamic parts of the recording before they’re even printed into the computer. Compressing with an 8:1 ratio does a great job of taming aggressive vocals, while maintaining a sense of urgency and excitement to the performance. The Purple MC77 is at the top of its class at managing dynamic peaks, ensuring consistency without sacrificing the natural expressiveness of the vocals. Compression with a high-quality hardware unit comes in handy when you’re stacking vocals. As you stack uncompressed vocals, there are more resonances that build up. Great compression helps a lot when there are a lot of vocal layers being stacked and panned.

Tube-Tech CL1b Tube Compressor: The Final Touch of Smoothness

the legendary tube-tech cl1b shining in the sunlight

To round off our vocal chain, we introduce the Tube-Tech CL1b, a tube-based compressor celebrated for its musical compression and ability to add a final touch of smoothness to the vocals. In the competitive world of Boston and Los Angeles studios, having a tool that enhances clarity and consistency without introducing harshness is invaluable.

The Tube-Tech CL1b is one of the best compressors in the world for recording vocals – it ensures that your vocals shine with a warm and polished sheen, ready to captivate listeners and stand out in any mix.

Elevate Your Vocal Tracks with Outboard Gear

By integrating the Neve 5052, Purple MC77, and Tube-Tech CL1b into your vocal chain, you’re setting the stage for pristine vocal recordings. If you have the ability to copy this exact vocal chain, we definitely recommend you do it! Get perfect gain staging with the Neve 5052, tame harsh peaks with the MC77, and smooth the whole recording out with the Tube-Tech CL1b. Over the years, we have found that using two analog compressors is the best way to record vocals – try it out, and you’ll be amazed. The best part is, the vocals will sound incredible before you even put any plugins on. Just imagine the potential!

Enhance your tracks with unparalleled warmth, clarity, and character, and let your vocals take center stage with confidence. Remember, with the right tools and enough reps, the sky’s the limit for your audio productions!