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Thread: Which compressor for what??

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    Which compressor for what??

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    Hey everyone,
    I recently got into the analog world. Coming from vs-2480. Now I have an old Fostex b16. I do mostly my own blues/rock stuff.

    I lurked around here and other sites trying to learn about different outboard compressor to get without breaking the bank.

    I've acquired a few but am just now getting around to doing some recording on the b16, and believe it or not I haven't really gotten around to trying out any of the compressors yet. Just racked and wired them all up.

    That being said, if you were going to record/mix with these compressors which one would you grab for what. I do realize there's know one fits all for each situation, but in general, for drums, bass, guitars, vocals.

    Here's what I have:
    Rnc
    Symetrix 501
    Art vla
    dbx 166 (blackface, colored knobs)
    Ashly sc-50

    Thanks

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    Hi there,
    With compression, it's all a matter of experimentation and preference. You can use them conservatively, or you can go all wacko with them and get some strange effects.

    If you end up being limited in terms of what has to have compression, the must have tracks I would compress would be:
    snare
    kick drum
    bass
    vocals

    I wouldn't necessarily list them in that order, it's all up to how consistent the artist is, too.

    I would recommend starting out by going conservatively at first. I try to use compression to make tracks sounds more consistent and fuller, but without it being so apparent that a compressor is being used.

    Welcome to the world of analog, and I'm sure many of us would be interested in hearing your results. I know I am!

    All the best,
    -MD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foamfoot View Post
    Hey everyone,
    the must have tracks I would compress would be:
    snare
    kick drum
    bass
    vocals

    Here's what I have:
    Rnc
    Symetrix 501
    Art vla
    dbx 166 (blackface, colored knobs)
    Ashly sc-50

    Thanks

    RNC: most transparent of the bunch, and pretty flexible with its switchable knees and wide attack/release ranges; it's a good one for when you want to keep your dynamic range in check without adding tons of color, so a natural around vocals and acoustic guitars, can also take a little edge off a clean electric guitar without clouding up the sound. Never was big on it for bass instruments and generally prefer to not hit it too hard.

    Symetrix 501: haven't used that one specifically but we have a 525 that I've occasionally used on tom groups to gate and "kiss" with a little compression (mix glue) and not something I'd use very aggressively. The 525's comps are pretty simplified so I'm sure the 501 is more flexible in terms of settings; I can tell you they're not as clean sounding as the RNCs but not as colorful as the ART and DBXs.

    ART vla--I assume you mean ProVLA: tube output, pretty slow attack even on the fast setting; it's good for thickening things up; bass, kick so long as you don't need a fast attack; you could try it on guitars too. Also not a comp I like to hit too hard, more of "big fat kisses" type, and you can play around coloration-wise with different tubes if that's your thing.

    DBX 166: I can't comment on that one speficially: I'm familiar with the 161 and 160A, the former on bass and sometimes guitars, esp acoustic; the latter on snare and sometimes bass; I'm not afraid to comp harder with those guys than the ones above--but when I really want to cream the hell out of a source I reach for Empirical Labs stuff.

    Ashly SC-50: We have an Ashly SC-something compressor in the cupboard; when we ran short on rack space we pulled it because it wasn't getting used. Can't say much else about it other than I recall being on the noisy side; I ought to play around with it some time.


    FWIW here's what we have in our compressor rack right now, if you're curious what I typically have at my disposal:
    Altec 436C
    ART ProVLA
    DBX 160A
    DBX 161
    a matched stereo pair of Empirical Labs Distressor EL-8Xs
    Empirical Labs Fatso Jr.
    JoeMeek SC2.2
    three RNCs
    Symetrix 525
    ...we also have a DBX 376 and a JoeMeek VC1 which are "channel strips" which have compressors in them.
    ...oh, and we're also 2/3 of the way through an SSL 4000-style DIY buss compressor build.
    Last edited by briank; 11-07-2010 at 21:32.

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    Thanks for the reply, MD. I have just compared some tracks recorded on the 2480 and b16. I split the signal with one going to 2480 and one going to b16. Not to get into a analog vs. digital debate but I like the way the drums sound MUCH better on the analog machine. I know I've heard many people putting down these small format machines, but it sure sounds good to me. It sounds more "real", for lack of better words. I do hear a little more "high end" on the digital or maybe a little more clarity on the 2480, especially on the vocals. But, aside from that there's something that's just a little more pleasing to the ear from the analog. I like it.

    Back to the compressors. I understand how to use a compressor, it's just that in the 2480 you get 1 for each track, but they are all the same. I've never used an outboard comp before (yea, really). So, I know I need to take one, say the Art vla and run each instrument through it to see how it sounds and then grab another one, run each instrument through it, etc., etc. I know I'll end up doing this eventually, anyway.

    I was just wondering if you guys had my outboard compressors, and were doing a rock/blues mix with drums, bass, guitars, vocals if there would be a certain compressor you would reach for for each instrument.

    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foamfoot View Post

    I was just wondering if you guys had my outboard compressors, and were doing a rock/blues mix with drums, bass, guitars, vocals if there would be a certain compressor you would reach for for each instrument.

    Thanks again
    In a home recording studio, it's more about using what you happen to have, instead of figuring out ahead of time which piece of gear to use for which instrument. Your own experience, in your own studio, will tell you over time how to assemble your gear to get the best sounds from each instrument.

    Another option is to compress your tracks as they are recorded on the machine. Although this will limit your control over the tracks later, with a rough idea of how to compress each instrument, you could in effect use your "best" sounding compressor on all of your tracks.

    -MD

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    Thanks for the response so far guys, really appreciate it. Been messing around with these comps a little. Mostly on drum stuff. It's kinda hard to decide.

    I like the pro vla on kick and snare, but when I run the kick through the symetrix 501 I like that too. A little different but both cool. The snare sounds good through the pro vla too, but also has a nice snap through the Rnc.
    They (kick and snare) actually both sound pretty good through the dbx 166 too, though more bright and snappy.

    I notice if I really want to crush something (say overheads), I can get much more gain reduction through the 166 or Rnc than through the pro vla, although I really like the way the pro vla sorta rounds things off in a smooth sort of way.

    Haven't really touched the Ashly yet.

    Anyway, hope some of that makes sense. Just thought I would let y'all know what I thought on my initial impressions so far. Kinda hard to tell exactly what I would use on what so far. I can definitely see where the song would probably dictate which one to use on what.

    Thanks again for the replies. Look forward to hearing more input!!

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    The Ashly seems, well, cool but seems a little more difficult to set up. Maybe it's just me (probably), but for instance when I move the attack setting I don't hear alot of change. Like on some of the others I can hear a fast attack really go to work on the transient. Not so much on the Ashly. Maybe it's just smoother.

    Anyone have any experience with these Ashly sc-50 comps?

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