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Compressor or Limiter?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by dejacky, May 12, 2004.

  1. dejacky

    dejacky Guest

    I noticed (particularly) on drums I get digital overloads that sound horrible and I only like the sound of my mics on vocals with gain turned up (but this overloads the signal into the pc when I get slightly louder). So, I think I need a limiter or compressor so the loud parts don't overload the PC input.

    I'm feeding my audio signals through an SM ProAudio PR8 8 channel preamp directly into my RME Multiface A/D and I've tried adjusting levels to no avail...it ends up sounding useable, but not to my satisfaction as when the gain is turned up . My Drum setup is 3 mics for now (2 Oktava MK012 overheads & 1 AT3035 for kick drum).

    Do I need a particular compressor or limiter and what do you all suggest for under $200 & at least 2 channel (including used equipment)? Thanks in advance :? .
  2. huub

    huub Guest

    if you only have that little to spend, i'd keep the gain low enough to not clip the converters, and then compress using a plugin...cheap compressors or limiters sound crap...

    you could use a limiter just as protection, to make sure your perfect take isn't clipped....then i'd buy a behringer limiter..really cheap, and not overly terrible sounding.....
  3. dejacky

    dejacky Guest

    which behringer model and why would a limiter really make my sound worse if it's only going to limit the peaks? And what about this FMR RNC (stereo compressor) I keep hearing it? Not good for my needs?
  4. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    I'd stay away from the Behringer stuff. If you really want an inexpensive compressor go with the RNC. Drawmer makes some good stuff also.

    With that said, I'd go with huub's advise on lowering the gain first. Make sure you are recording in at 24 bits or higher and keep the gain down enough that you don't peak the converters. Make sure you don't peak the mic pre's as well. They don't distort as badly as converters do usually but still produce undesirable distortion.

    Once you have recorded the tracks, add a plugin comressor like the Waves Ren Comp. It has a descent "Drum" preset if your not big on compressors. Depending on how inconsistant the drumer is, I would set the threshold to produce anywhere from 3-10 db of gain reduction and bump up the makeup gain to get the desired volume from the tracks. It may take considerable time to get the desired results from any compressor, so don't give up.

    Check these out!

  5. dudge

    dudge Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    Record at 24 bit if you can. It doesn't matter if your levels are right up to 0dB.
    I usually just set up levels so that I'm peaking at around -6dB when I'm hitting the drums as hard as I ever would and then I never get overs.
    Then as tripnek suggested use a plugin comp and make up gain there later. Works for me.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Too loud is too loud. Turn down the inputs to average around -6dB on the digital scale. This will allow for peaks to hit the recorder at -2dB and prevent digital clipping (a no-no).

    This is the problem recordists encounter when they are using inexpensive front end ... the G.I / G.O. principal.

    You have great converters and interface (the RME) but your mic pres are very cheap. The reason you feel the need to turn the mic pre up is it has a certain "sweet spot" where it sounds the best ... unfortunately, that spot provides too much gain to record your tracks without overloading the inputs of your recorder.. better mic pres will provide a "good sound" over a wider range of input levels... (better linearity).

    Instead of recommending you go out and purchase more cheap front end gear (compressors) to compensate for the low end pres you are already using, I would rather see you consider re thinking your foundation (mic pres) and considering upgrading them to something that costs a bit more than $149.00 (list price) for eight channels.

    I know good mic pres are expensive but you seem driven to achieve the best "sound" possible... this normally cannot be done with low end mics, pres and comps. If you only want to record your stuff and you are happy to live with the thin sound of electronically balanced pres, then by all means continue on the path you have selected.

    I see this all the time, people who want to spend as little as possible, thinking that with tweaking and the weight of their sheer talent, they will get "that sound" . Well, I am here to say it, .... "You can't get there from here". Agree or don't, it doesn't matter to me ... but if you insist on pursuing that path, please don't ask how to squeeze chicken soup out of a turd, 'cause there is no answer to that question.

    Can you record something good with cheap gear? Sure ... I think what you record is more important that what you record it with but the minute you start in on the "that pre sounds better cranked up louder" syndrome, you are chasing the elusive "tone" thing. To "get there", the only path I know of is to use gear that "sounds good" in the first place.
  7. bap

    bap Guest

    If you are so inclined, you can also build a kit which will give a good quality sound at a much lower price.

    To do this you must know something about electronic circuitry and soldering or be friendly with someone who does.

    There are some remarkable preamp kits out there.
  8. thruzero

    thruzero Guest


    The Drawmer DL251 spectral compressor is an excellent unit. I made mine some years ago. It includes an exciter circuit to make good the apparent dulling of the sound, a common side effect of compression. It is also British and one has to push that sort of thing!
  9. dejacky

    dejacky Guest

    bap and thruzero, where can I get some of those plans or "kits" for building real quality gear. I heard some samples of a "Hamptone" kit but I wasn't really convinced with the sound...it seemed kind of "masked and grainy" to me. Oh, btw I just bought a M-Audio DMP3...i'm hoping this will provide better quality than the SMPro Audio PR8 :|
  10. radioliver

    radioliver Guest

    i use a Q10 soundcard and the preamps sound good at a louder level that I can't get to when recording drums. I was wondering if and inline pad (for example shure's) which will reduce by let's say 20dB the sound of the input will actually help me with my problem. I think it will because the sound being 20db lower, i can now boost my preamps by 20 db and reach the "sweetspot" without clipping. Am I right??!!
  11. dejacky

    dejacky Guest

    that sounds proper to me. What I ended up doing is changing the input level of my A/D to something higher than -10...+4dB or 0dB can't remember.. while the preamps output is still -10dB...this lets me run the preamps hotter, but now the dB scale in software isn't accurate since I'm running mismatched levels... I like the sound though :wink:

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