My favorite vocal chain right here.
• I always bring the level down to -18 based on peaks using Hornet Plugins VUmeter, so the analog compressors after it will have ample headroom, not introducing distortion (unless I want it, and sometimes I do).
• FabFilter ProQ3.
I use this to cut off the unnecessary mic lows and thumps as well as cutting out some of the low-mid room resonance that always happens, more or less.
It’s amazing how a vocal immediately sounds way less “homebrewn” when you get the boominess 120–250 Hz out; I usually watch out for two separate peaks in that range.
• Universal Audio LA3A and LA-2 compressors.
At some point I was experimenting with vocal comps, and just ended up having these two in a row: creates very transparent compression, and even if you squeeze the vocal really hard (7-8 dB), you literally can’t hear it. Just amazing.
Also, as a bonus, if you run the signal harder into these, the analog-modeled input stage creates this sweet distortion that can be so useful if the vocal sounds a little too tame and some vibe is required. Kind of “radio-ish” distortion.