Hardware compressors around £400

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Moderator: Moderators

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by Arpangel »

Initially you said you’d like a little colour, then you mentioned transparency? :think:
My advice is don’t waste your money, £400 isn’t going to get you much over using a plug-in, if you absolutely must have hardware, something cheap, like the FMR RNC, and dare I say it a Behringer Composer (it is transparent) will do the job, they are hardware, they have knobs, and give you all the expected joy those things bring.
IMO, unless you’re going to spend thousands on something classic that you are very familiar with and know without a doubt the sonic benefits it can bring to you, I wouldn’t spend anything, there are some good software compressors that come with most DAW's that will sound great, and cost you nothing.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12122 Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am
That’s another thing

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by jaminem »

Alternative (and apparently not as popular) opinion

Benefits of compressing on the way in:
- Getting a 'sound' you like - usually by driving the compressor - yes you can do that afterwards, and that's fine, but committing to something on the way in, does sometimes effect the way you work in a positive way by avoiding the 'so many many plugin in options not sure which to chose and takes loads of time to do it' creative blocker
- As others have said - you need to know what you're doing, but you ain't gonna know what you're doing unless you practice - so benefit 2 is it helps you learn how to compress on the way in!
- Controlling singers with piss poor mic technique and big transients - yes its better for them to learn good mic technique but I'm not giving them a lesson in that if they're in full flow and I just need to capture it.
- Bonus benefit HW compressors are more fun to use, generally sound a bit better (!!! opinion !!) and are more intuitive to use.

I'd echo Elf - The KT-76 or the KT-2A are good start, or if you have 500 series id build a JLM audio LA500 - really intuitive, forgiving great sounding opto compressor
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1276 Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:00 am

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by jaminem »

....or the Golden Age COMP 3A
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1276 Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:00 am

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by CS70 »

jaminem wrote: - Controlling singers with piss poor mic technique and big transients - yes its better for them to learn good mic technique but I'm not giving them a lesson in that if they're in full flow and I just need to capture it.

Agree on the rest but if you can't control singers without a compressor when recording at 24 bits, it's not only their technique that's piss poor! :D
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7798 Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

jaminem wrote:Alternative (and apparently not as popular) opinion

Benefits of compressing on the way in:
- Getting a 'sound' you like - usually by driving the compressor - yes you can do that afterwards, and that's fine, but committing to something on the way in, does sometimes effect the way you work in a positive way by avoiding the 'so many many plugin in options not sure which to chose and takes loads of time to do it' creative blocker
- As others have said - you need to know what you're doing, but you ain't gonna know what you're doing unless you practice - so benefit 2 is it helps you learn how to compress on the way in!
- Controlling singers with piss poor mic technique and big transients - yes its better for them to learn good mic technique but I'm not giving them a lesson in that if they're in full flow and I just need to capture it.

I'd agree with all of these.

Whereas in the days of analogue tape it was pretty much essential to compress wide dynamic range sources for technical reasons before recording them, we no longer need to do that simply because digital recording systems have such a wide dynamic range capability.

And for the inexperienced it is generally 'safer' to record flat without compression, and then mess about with unadulterated signals in the DAW where you have an undo option. So I would generally advocate recording flat where the knowledge and experience is limited.

But there are definitely situations where compressing the source on the way in is an important or even an essential part of achieving both the required sound character and -- more importantly -- the required performance.

And yes, committing to 'a sound' at the time of recording can also help to move things along during the session and save time in post-production. The issue here is that making the right decision when recording obviously requires experience, so there's a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

You need to practice to gain experience... so the obvious safety net would be to split the mic preamp output so that you can record both the straight sound for 'get out of jail' purposes, alongside the hardware compressed version as you develop your recording chops...

As always with these things, there are no absolute rules. it's all shades of grey that depend on the situation, the experience, and the requirements...
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 35057 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by Aled Hughes »

I agree there's no need to do it as such, but I still do.

At the studio we have a nice collection of hardware - real vintage 1176s and LA-3As as well as more modern Avalons and DBXs. Frankly, unless I use them on the way in, I wouldn't use them at all, because there's no guarantee that I'll actually be doing the mixing at the studio. Also, I rarely complete a project/mix in one sitting so recall becomes an issue. Sometimes if I have the luxury of time I'll print some tracks through, but I rarely bother to be honest.

It's a similar conundrum with the AMS RMX16 reverb we have. I love its sound, but it's very rare that I actually mix through it and render the tracks in real time!

I know what they do, they are fun to use, and I've reached a stage where I trust myself to not overdo it, so yes, I like to tickle the hardware on the way in!
Aled Hughes
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1512 Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am Location: Pwllheli, Cymru

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by jaminem »

CS70 wrote:
jaminem wrote: - Controlling singers with piss poor mic technique and big transients - yes its better for them to learn good mic technique but I'm not giving them a lesson in that if they're in full flow and I just need to capture it.

Agree on the rest but if you can't control singers without a compressor when recording at 24 bits, it's not only their technique that's piss poor! :D

Easy tiger...

...more of a safety net really, and most importantly avoiding the 'mic technique lesson' when they are firing because that's more important than anything - just one less thing to worry about...
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1276 Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:00 am

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by ken long »

James Perrett wrote:I'd look at the FMR RNC which is very transparent and won't colour the sound too much.

Came here to say exactly this. :)
User avatar
ken long
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3476 Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:00 am Location: Somers Town
I'm All Ears.

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by CS70 »

jaminem wrote: Easy tiger...

...more of a safety net really, and most importantly avoiding the 'mic technique lesson' when they are firing because that's more important than anything - just one less thing to worry about...

Apparently the one loudest female singer in the world can do 121dB so I stand corrected - you need a compressor if you have a piece of music with her starting with a whisper and ending with her loudest note! :lol:
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7798 Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by James Perrett »

Ramirez wrote: It's a similar conundrum with the AMS RMX16 reverb we have. I love its sound, but it's very rare that I actually mix through it and render the tracks in real time!

Though in that case you have the option to sample an impulse and then use that impulse in a convolution reverb. I had exactly the same issue last year when the client loved the reverb he was hearing in the headphones from an H3000 and wanted it for the mix. I wasn't confident enough to sample the H3000 right in the middle of a mixing session but it is something I ought to do for the future.

It isn't so easy to sample compressors - although not impossible for a real DSP expert.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 12640 Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by Aled Hughes »

James Perrett wrote:
Ramirez wrote: It's a similar conundrum with the AMS RMX16 reverb we have. I love its sound, but it's very rare that I actually mix through it and render the tracks in real time!

Though in that case you have the option to sample an impulse and then use that impulse in a convolution reverb.

Now that's a neat idea.

We also have a H3000 here, and a Lexicon PCM91, but I haven't really paid much attention to them. There's an EMT140 in bits in the workshop too...
Aled Hughes
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1512 Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am Location: Pwllheli, Cymru

Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Post by muzines »

Ramirez wrote:We also have a H3000 here, and a Lexicon PCM91, but I haven't really paid much attention to them. There's an EMT140 in bits in the workshop too...

You could go to the effort to make impulse responses of some of the settings of those items, and it can be fun and a learning experience, but others have probably already done it (google for impulse responses) - and of course you can get plugins which reproduce those things in detail with *all* the settings, so if you like the sounds those things make, grabbing the plugins would probably get you 95+% of the way there a lot quicker...
User avatar
muzines
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11670 Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 12:00 am
..............................mu:zines | music magazine archive | difficultAudio  | Legacy Logic Project Conversion
Post Reply