Can anyone recommend a compressor for $1300?

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters' started by sach16, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. sach16

    sach16 Guest

    Hi guys, I've got upto £800 ($1400) to buy a compressor+limiter, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions... - are there any clear winners in this price range? I only want 1 channel for vocals (i use a u87 into a john hardy preamp) and i'd put it in at the front of the chain, right after the mic. Basically my vocals have a large dynamic range, in particular, loud peaks that suddenly appear and disappear - i blame my lungs. Anyway, I dont think the compressor in my roland 8 tracker is very good. I'd like something that will basically even out volume and get rid of mad peaks, without colouring the sound (optional colouring is welcome). If anyone has any suggestions I'd really appreciate it, thanks!

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Look for a used UREI LA3 or LA4 .... the LA3's are being re issued by UA as well but I can't say what they sound like.

    You should be able to find used LA3's for around $1000 usd and LA4's for around $750 usd.

    Either on of these units (used) would be better than anything new I can think of for the same price.
  3. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    The UA 1176N is in your price range as well and has a wonderful sound.
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I know Kurt doesn't care so much for them. But the Empirical Labs Distressor is real popular.
    I'm a gonna get me one!
    And if you do rock music or metal it's great for vocals and guitar. Reguardless, I hope you get something AWESOME, and of course share the info with us here on RO.
    Do you mind if I ask what type of music you are most interested in recording? Sometimes guys who record the same type of music have some favorite tools they use. Like certain compressors or pre-amps with certain gentries of music.
  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The Distresor is already a classic and must have piece of kit but I'm not a fan of it on vocals most of the the time. The 1176 is another great must have unit that often is the right spice for vocals.

    I'd be looking a used dbx 160S or 160SL that is just a little more than your budget and is a real work horse than can be used for anything. I liked and used mine so much I had to have second one. The buikt in limiter is pretty decent and has saved me from digital overs many times. I'm just about to ante up and get the digital output option for one of them.
  6. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Whatever you buy, you can't put it in front of the Hardy, only after it. Compressors work at line level, not mic level.
  7. Dosser

    Dosser Active Member

    The Distressor is very versatile and can do a lot, but if you're new to recording, you're probably better off with Kurt's recommendation on the LA-3A. It sounds great on most vocals, and the controls are simple and straight-forward.

    I'd stay away from the LA-4, though. It may be better than a lot of the cheap stuff, but by comparison to the LA-3A, its fairly dark and slow, and gets darker with compression.
  8. anxious

    anxious Guest

    For a moment, forget about the $1100 bucks in change you will get... just listen to the FMR-RNC before you make a choice. I find that for overly peaky vocals (in the dynamics sense of "peaky"), it just can't be beat. It is basically two stages of compression, and the results are hard to mimic with other boxes.

    Of course, there are several very good comps at your price, and others have made fine suggestions, too. You just might like the unique processing approach of the RNC for your voice.
  9. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Sach
    I hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread, but, I also use a U87 for vocals and I have John Hardy on my shortlist (along with Great River and Phoenix). How do you find this mic and pre' combination?

    John Stafford
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Don't forget about the venerable dbx line. Their 160 is quite a decent compressor for about $400. Of course, their 162sl is a great compressor, but it tops out your price range by a few hundred clams.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I don't "get it " when it comes to the Distressor. But that doesn't mean it's not a great piece. I have seen and hreard them in use and they are well constructed with quality components. A lot of folks just love 'em to death, so just because I don't "get it" doesn't mean it's no good ... it just means it's not my cuppa' tea ....

    In my travels I have observed that people either really love the Distressor or don't. I would encourage folks to try one out .... listen for yourself regarding the Distressor .... you may or may not like it.
  12. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    If your a compressor freak and collector as I am, the Distressor is a MUST have unit. Much more flexability in tone than most.
  13. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yeah, we all know you love Kurt. The fact is, some of us are getting concerned about just HOW much you love Kurt. I mean, pretty soon, you're going to cut off all your hair so your Avatar will look just like him. You'll change your user name to "It's that Foster again" and you'll name your children Kurt and Treena (even if you have 2 girls).

    There's a movie by the name of "Single White Female." It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda - you might wanna check it out... :wink:

  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Too funny Jeremy

  16. sach16

    sach16 Guest

    Hey guys, many many thanks 4 all the suggestions. I've got a few ideas now to look into - the distressor, used la-3, used Tubetech CL1B, RNC, something by dbx...

    The music I do is mainly rock n roll, but my style varies; my main influences are springsteen, libertines, neil young, dylan. My voice sounds a bit like dylan's. In singing I tend to have quite rapidly appearing (and disappearing) peaks, which is what I want to get rid off, with minimal colouring of the sound.... if any of those compressor/limiters are best suited to my application, then let me know... i wont be able to try before i buy. Are there any obvious main differences between any of these compressors that would help me choose?

    For John - the great river and phoenix were my other 2 choices when I was buying a pre-amp too. I found this really good site online that had clips of all 3. They all sound great, but I found that the JH sounds the least coloured to me, and that's what I was after. I'm very happy with the JH. If you like colouring, go for one of the others. I cant remember where those clips are, but if you hunt around google you should be able to find them...

    Again, i really appreciate your input guys, i chose a great preamp because of you a while back, and i'm sure i'll find a great compressor too!

    ps. Are there any sites anyone knows of which have clips comparing compressors?

    also something called the p1 at seems to get great reviews, anyone know anything about this unit?
  17. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Well, I can say if you don't want the sound colored by the compressor, the distressor on many settings is not what you want. It is a pretty heavy compressor. Don't get me wrong if you back off the attack and don't engage the brit mode or harmonic distortion, you can get clean compression, but on the whole it is geared to a heavier sound.

  18. sach16

    sach16 Guest

    hey guys, i've found a place selling a few old compressors - does anyone know anything about an audio&design f760xrs, or a dbx 165a? They have la-3s too but at £1000, a bit out of my reach. Are the la-4s significantly worse? i guess i may be looking between an la-4 and a new p1 - can anyone compare these?

    does anyone know if old compressors hold their value well?


  19. Dosser

    Dosser Active Member

    If those are your choices, and you can't afford the LA-3A, I would definitely go for the dbx 165A. The Vocal Stressor (F760xrs) can be pretty aggressive, and I don't think of it as super versatile.

    The LA-4, to me, is not worth having unless you have a lot of other compressors around. It is, by comparison to the LA-3A, slow and dark. I don't consider it to be in the same league as many of the other great UREI/Teletronix stuff.

    dbx 165A compressors go for around $500-ish around here (Nashville). I consider it to be pretty versatile, and I would think it would be a good compressor for someone new to compression.

    I haven't heard the P1.
  20. sach16

    sach16 Guest


    hey all, i've decided to go with kurt's advice and pick up a used LA3 that I've found for £750. Just a quick question for anyone that's used these units - I read on a post somewhere that LA3s don't have a release or ratio controls - will this limit its usefulness for my purpose at all? - mainly peak limiting with some nice compression on vocals.

    thanks 4 all the help, its been much appreciated :)

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