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Another ART Pro Channel question

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by tommyd, May 30, 2005.

  1. tommyd

    tommyd Guest


    So I've read that most here think the ART Pro Channel as a preamp in nothing great. Is it worth the money to get it as a compressor? Haven't seen much said about the rest of the unit other than it's preamp.

    Actually, let me expand a little more.

    We're putting together a home studio for our rock band. The only compressor I've got now is a DBX 266. It was bought mainly for road use. We're planning on recording everything live except vocals. I'd like to get a couple of pres and/or compressors.
    We've got no more than $800 to spend.
    At first I read a good review on the ART Pro Channel, so I thought we'd pick up that and maybe an SMPro TB202(2 channel mic pre/compressor).

    Suggestions? Should I just blow the $800 on one good preamp? Forget any preamps for that cheap and just use the preamps on the board? Spend the $800 on a few RNC's?

    Help please!!!

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Ohhh, I hate all the ART stuff.

    What are you recording to?

    If its a DAW I wouldn't worry about compressors until I had my preamp "ducks" in a row. You can always use the compressor plugs in the DAW.

    If it's one of those porta studio thingies ... then forget about all of it .... There's no way to work around the integral pres built into most of those things unless they have digital inputs or mic input channels that have inserts. Most of don't though.

    As far as an affordable mic pre ... look at GT's "The Brick" ... do a search here at RO on it, there has been lots of threads on it and all the reports have been favorable except one which turned out to be an improper interfacing issue that had nothing to do with the preamp.

    The Brick is "streeting" at about $350 each at places like Guitar Center. Looks like you could get 2 with what you have budgeted.
  3. tommyd

    tommyd Guest

    I guess it is a porta-thingy. It's a TASCAM 2488(24 track digital).

    So even if I have the initial gain pots all the way down, I can't use an outboard pre(or at least if I do, it won't sound right)?

    So if I am stuck with those pre's...what about one or two decent compressors? RNC's probably my best bets? The Tascam does have some onboard compression, but it only goes to about 4:1.

    I did read about the Bricks, and figured that might be what you recommend, but can I use it with the 2488? If so, should I get one of those before I bother with any compressors? I'm mainly concerned with the drum sounds and vocals. Already getting some great git sounds in the room.

    Thanks again

    P.S. Here's a link to the 2488
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I took a look at the link you posted (thanks btw, I wish everyone would do that ) and I do not see any inserts on the mic channels. So you cannot bypass those built in pres. You can as you discribed, turn the gain all the way down, but you're still running the signal through a lot of extra electronics ..and you're not going to hear the pure sound of any outboard pre you would employ.

    It does however have a USB port, so you could get a USB converter and run 2 mic pres at a time into that if you wished.

    As far as the comps only going to 4:1 ratio .... are you sure that isn't just for one type of comp plug they provide? Often on these types of recorders, deeper comps, limiters and eq's are found in the effects plugs ...
  5. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I'm not tryin to hi-jack your post tommyd. But has anybody ever used the ART Gold series pre-amps? I saw an ad for them in Full Compass. They don't even look like the same company ART.
  6. tommyd

    tommyd Guest

    Sure about that compression Kurt. The only higher comp ratios are for the stereo bus.

    Back to the question, you think it would be a waste for me to get any pre's I'm assuming? Even getting the Bricks? Should I grab some RNC's? Or maybe just one higher priced compressor? I keep saying RNC's because they seem to be the best cheaper comp's recommended here. I hear the Joemeeks are good, too. I already have a big for the ART ProChannel on Ebay(I know, you hate ART).
    But also have a bid in for an RNC. They have some Joemeeks available.
  7. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member


    I enjoy my art prochannel, and have heard very good things about their pro vla too. I've used it for about a year and a half now and I couldn't be happier. I've used it on bass gtr with great results. and the pre on rock/metal/screamo vox is good too, I can get a good saturation effect when i turn the preamp out up and let it it the comp hard and saturate the comp, and it gives a nice sizzle. especially for screams. Its my go to channel strip for mine and other bands kick drums, (i'm just a hobby recordist, so i don't have any api, etc pres yet for drums), Its great for that imo, i crank up the pre and set up the limiter and put it on vari-mu and then adjust the eq to taste. i like the eq on this unit too,

    I am comparing this unit to my presonus eureka, and i hate that thing, imo the compressor sucks big time, the eq it a waste of time. and i'm also comparing the the comp to the onboard comps on my dps24. plus i prefer the prochannel's comp over my radius 30 for kick drum limiting, and i like my radius 30 comp.

    well thats my 2 cents

  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    :?: No plugs called limiters? Comps usually have lower ratios but when the ratio approaches anything over 8:1 .... that's usually called limiting.

    That said, the RNC is fine for a basic comp. Not a lot to write home about, it doesn't impart a lot of fattness or tone but it does what it's supposed to do without a lot of side effects.

    I don't like the Joe Meek stuff at all either ... but I'm more picky about gear than a lot of folks. I suupose it's all in how fanatical you want to be with the audio. There's not too much budget and mid level gear that lites up my Christmas Tree ...

    I wouldn't say that getting a good pre or two would be a waste .. they will last you a lifetime. Probably a lot longer than you have the Tascam but how you will use them, unless you get a USB interface with line inputs, is the question I would pose. It's the same thing for an out board compressor. How in the world will you interface it with the Porta Studio ?
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The Pro Channel and the VLA though they are not in the same ballpark as Hardy,GML,Sebatron,Neve,Red Focurite,etc etc etc, are, without a doubt, the best of the midranged pres available. They are honest and they have dimension and anyone comparing them to the rest of the cheaper ART gear has obviously never heard one nor put them through their paces. In my checking out of many other recording sites which are populated by some serious heavyweight recordists and producers, I have found there to be a quiet useage of these two units for many things musical.I would not say its the "go to" pre for anything special, but it has a sound and is finding a place in a lot of racks you normally wouldnt expect it to be found.
    But dont believe me, simply research it for yourself. Again, these two(and only two) pieces are not to be confused with the cheap consumer grade gear. There are also several boutique electronic benches who have upgrades available for these that by the response to these upgrades seems to bring them fully into the next level.

    Just so this doesnt start some childish crap fest please note that these are impressions gathered by research and not hearsay.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Even though I don't like it, I have agree with Dave on that ....

    I know one well respected producer who has a Pro MPA as his over flow pre (that's the one you have isn't it Dave? ) right along side his Neves and APIs ... and I have heard others say the same thing. When you run out of the good pres it will work OK. Just goes to show you, sometimes even the big boys have to be concerned with cost.

    Anyhooo , I had the chance to rent that rack a few times and so I do know the pres. I personally just don't care for the sound (actually the lack thereof) of them ... that's all. It's moot anyhow as the Pro MPA is no longer available.

    If I had to choose between the two, I would opt for The Brick, especially if it's going to be the main go to pre for your rig.

    The problem with the mid priced stuff for the most part is in power supplies or that they are constructed using surface mount technology, which make service of an older piece almost impossible.

    The ART has a decent internal power supply and I am not familiar with the construction of it ... but I'd be willing to bet it is SMT ...

    Sometimes (actually a lot of the time) with SMT, they don't even use solder to affix the components to the PCB because the traces on the boards are so fragile that heat would destroy them ... So they glue :shock: the components to the board instead... Thin traces and glue don't make for a lot of current ....
  11. tommyd

    tommyd Guest

    Hey guys,

    I really do appreciate all the input.

    I still am unclear on whether using a pre will help or hurt the sound(regardless of which pre). Let's say I buy a $2000 pre and try to use it before I go into the TASCAM. I keep the trim all the way down on the TASCAM. Am I still going to get a shitty sound because it's still going through the TASCAM's preamp(at least a little bit I guess)?

    I was just going to run the compressor of an effect send and blend that second track into the first uncompressed track. Or run the compression before even going into the TASCAM.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    yeah ....... ummm, that's not the correct way to use a comp ... they are meant to be used in an insert send recive loop which devices like the Tascam do not facilltate. EFX send returns are for chorus's and reverbs, stuff like that.

    I cannot predict what the results would be if you were to stack anothe pre in front of the ones in the Tascam ... all I can say is that' not the accepted approsach ... so ymmv.
  13. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    What's wrong with parallel compression? :?
    Sure it may not be normal or best, but I've heard of people doing it quite a bit.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Nothing. I have even done it myself a few times but it's not the way compression is traditionally used ... and it's not usually accomplished through an effects send return loop, rather by copying a track, then compressing the copy and running it in tandem with the original which helps to keepl noise and undesirable side effects in control ... and that's a totally different ball game.

    Compression works on both ends of the dynamic range ... to control peaks and overs, in which parallel compression does nothing and to bring up the quieter elements, which parallel compression does.. keeping in mind that some of those "quieter elements" are going to be noise. When you compress it by routing it through a side chain send receive aux loop, you will wind up turning down the channel strip and cranking up the aux return which will really get things noisy fast! It's just not the only way to use a compressor and by far it is not the most conventional way to apply them.

    I'm just trying to save the guy some cash ... he wants a new toy that he really doesn't need or can EFFECTIVELY use at this point as long as he's limited with the Porta Studio. My advice to him is to learn and use the tools he already has ... save the money up and move into a recording rig that won't limit his options so much before he starts investing in mic pres and compressors. Good front end for the most part is wasted on the all in one DAW studio packages unless the have inserts on the mic channels or digital inputs that can bypass the cheesy mixer sections usually associated with that type of recorder.

    My take:

    If you have a good sound, in the first place .... if you have the correct mic and preamp, in the first place ..... if the person playing the performance knows how to play, in the first place ... if the recordist know how to set up their gain staging correctly, in the fist place, you shouldn't need tricks like parallel compression. I think of it as a band aid or a fix for something is a problem. Why not avoid the problem in the first place, instead of attempting a fix in the mix?

    Another point:
    I try not lead people into purchasing gear they can't effectively use. Those of us who give advice should be able to point out the limitations of products like the 2488, without feeling like we are being impolite. All in one studio packages are great for people who want the "all in one" solution. You have a mixer, recorder, mic pres, effects and dynamics processors all built into one handy dandy package. It's very convenient and cost effective. The whole idea of the "all in one studio" approach is to not have to get a lot of other stuff ... but this comes usually at the expense of not being able to use outboard and external mic pres. I know it costs a few more bucks but it would be far better IMO if the manufacturers of these types of "all in ones" would provide either some dedicated line inputs or inserts on the mic channels that bypass the mic pres altogether.

    You already have the DBX compressor ... the ones you're asking about (RNP / ART) really aren't significantly better ... Just stay with what you have and keep your money.

    You said the Tascam has higher ratios for the comps in the master section .... so route the channel you want to add compression by itself (turn down all the other faders) to through the 2-bus and add compression there .... record that to a new track ... and there you have it! Compression at a higher ratio .. There's always a way if you think about it. That's what is exciting about recording to me. Finding the work around to a problem. That's also why digital recording is screwing up the people who are just getting into recording. Instead of looking for mechanical work arounds, they go look for a plug. It just seems to me the innovation and creativeness level is slipping a bit ... something to make you go hmmmmmm ...
  15. tommyd

    tommyd Guest

    Thanks for all the input Kurt.

    I guess the main thing I'm looking for is to fatten up some drum tracks and keep the dynamic vocals in check.

    As far as the parallel compression, I was not even necessarily thinking of using both the uncompressed track side by side with the compressed track. Couldn't I record say the kick drum without any compression, then run the effect send into the compressor, fiddle with the dials until I get a nice punchy(or punchier, if I've done everything else right) sound, then record that to another track and use just that compressed kick and do away with the original?

    I also heard a nice trick to fatten the drums by running all the drum tracks into a stereo track, then squash the hell out of that track, record it and slowly blend that in with the uncompressed drums. I can understand if someone is using tape, not wanting to bounce to another track just so they can use some outboard compression, but with digital, wouldn't running the compressor throught the sends be pretty much identical to recording the track that way in the first place?

    And I can't forget the vocals, although I guess the onboard compression of 4:1 is probably enough to keep them in front.

    Maybe I should just use the money and buy some LDC mics. I'm using small ones for the drum overs now. Or maybe a very nice vocal mic..using a $200 Oktava right now.

    Thanks once again.

    In case you wanted to hear the type of music we're talkin about here....

  16. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member


    i do that on my daw, run the kick out of an aux out then into a compressor/eq then back into the unit and then monitor the the track that is coming in and not the original, and it comes out good.


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