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Pro Audio compressor side-chain inputs

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Gear' started by hollywood_steve, Jun 2, 2001.

  1. I have noticed that side-chain inputs are not common on the more traditional compressor designs. I understand why they would not exist on an exacting "reissue" model, like the "new" UA LA-2A & 1176 models - if the original model didn't have the feature, the reissue won't have it either. But can anyone explain why non-reissues like the Manley, TubeTech, Mercury 66, EAR, Requisite Audio and other "classic style" compressors (both optical and vari-mu) typically do not offer side-chain inputs? I'm guessing that it's not a cost saving issue, because these are all $2500 to $5500 units. Is it technically difficult to incorporate a side chain circuit into optical or Vari-mu designs? My reason for asking is that I am looking at several of these models for future purchase, and always thougtht that a side chain input would be a desirable feature ( and a feature that NONE of my existing comp's offer). Why do most all of the $500 compressors in the guitar store audio counter offer side chain circuits and seemingly so few of the high end models? Are there negative aspects to this type of feature that make it less desirable to some designers?
  2. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Member

    Some, like Crane Song, offer it...they just make it a pain in the ass to get to. The Avalon 747 [and for that matter, the 737] have the 'side chain capabilities' right on the front panel. The Drawmer 1969 has side chain capabilities...it even has my favorite one for '2 bus applications' on a switch on the front.

    I know the Pendulum OCL-2 has a "sidechain insert" as well as internal sidechain options, the ES-8 and the 6386 also have internal sidechain options [these relate to the time contants/variables of the units rather than frequency dependant variables], I don't recall if the ES-8 or 6386 have a sidechain insert point or not.

    I would reckon that the reason that alot of the 'upper' level people don't do it is cost. People (as in consumers) already piss and moan about the price of the units, so those folks do what they can to keep the quality high, and the price as reasonable as possible.

    It's not all that hard to do, in fact the most expensive parts to accomplish the task are the connectors (though if they put the connections on barrier strips it might not be that bad :p ).

    The $500 boxes do it because they want to give you every possible function known to humans for the least amount of money to make up for the nearly universal fact that they couldn't pass audio any easier than a kidney stone.

    I'd rather not have side chain capabilities and decent audio than a ton of a control and a cheesey sounding piece of superfluous dung [the RNC being one of the few exceptions to that rule]. But that may just be me.
  3. try2break

    try2break Guest

    Keeping slightly on topic, I'd like to ask how everybody has wired up their RNC's for sidechain operation. I know that the connectors have a switch in them that enables the sidechain when you insert a plug into it. So how would you go about wiring it up to terminate on a patchbay? Can I normal it to loop back to itself so when I patch into it the connection is broken? This seems like the only option without modifying the connector/switch.
  4. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Member

    That's why "the ultimate bully" made 'normalled' patchbay connections...
  5. vanimal

    vanimal Guest

    To put side chain inserts in our Variable Mu, and to do them, like, really nicely, is a royal pain in the ass! Sure we could just "stick them in", but to do it well, would probably require buffers going in so your "thingy" (who knows WHAT you're gonna try to throw in there--gotta be ready!)doesn't load down the main tube stages and out so your "thingy" doesn't adversely load down the side chain. You want it tube-buffered? Hell, man, there's 8 tubes already in the thing how many more do ya want? ;)

    Ok so we'll do it with chips. Aw rats. We don't have a plus AND minus 15V or 24V supply in there! Gotta add that. But don't want to compromise the nice lo-flux power tranny that's in there with adding more windings.... but ok, we will.

    So now make it TWO of everything 'cause it's a fully differential circuit.

    Dang! Make it FOUR of everything 'cuz it's STEREO!

    I wish it were as simple as adding a couple o' jacks...
  6. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Member

    Well, it really wouldn't have to be "buffered" by tubes, because no actual audio travels through the 'side chain' path, only control voltage to the detector...so chips are more than fine for the task.

    It doesn't need to be a "differential" circuit, because it doesn't need to be balanced...because no actual audio travels through the 'side chain' path, only control voltage to the detector.

    From what I understand [which we both know ain't alot...but it is slightly more than nothing], a simple break in the 'detector' path, with a 'normalled' connector, even a 'normalled' TRS 1/4" will be just fine.

    As for powering the 'chips'...something tells me there must be a 'low voltage' rail in those things somewhere...which I'm sure could be 'tapped and regulated' to operate a 5532 to act as a buffer.

    Then again...I could be wrong.
  7. vanimal

    vanimal Guest

    Hey-yo Fletcher,
    You're welcome to try to do what you're thinking, but I don't think you want your inserted processor, whoever he may be, playing with DC volts there in the side chain. You want to let him play with AC volts which resemble tunes with which he's used to playing... and that would have to come at the point between the output stage plates, after their blocking caps, but before their side-chain vacuum tube rectifiers. It is still a differential audio signal there (and must remain so) and even though you aren't listening to it per se it certainly is audio from which the control voltage is derived.

    The buffers would be mandatory to isolate and interface the outside world from/into this spot but the good news is yes, there is another 15V winding powering up the meter lamps that could be enlisted with the other 15V supply to power up some buffer chips with some reconfiguration of those PSU circuits.

    I'll email you a schematic so you can speak next at least armed with one. ;)
  8. miketholen

    miketholen Guest

    Eve Anna postedHell, man, there's 8 tubes already in the thing how many more do ya want?
    Maybe a box that doesn't smoosh punchy low end into a glob of bile colored slime...
    Why don't you get those tubes to do something usefull?
    she also said To put side chain inserts in our Variable Mu, and to do them, like, really nicely, is a royal pain in the ass!
    then I would assume that doing your stuff "really nicely" is a pain in the ass?
    no wonder your boxes seemed a little "half-assed". they sure look cool though!
    Oh I forgot, it took you ten minutes to come up with the design for the voxbox (i can barely say the word, it hurts so much...). so I guess it's not a pain to design cool lookin' $*^t but try to make it rock? It's too much of a "Royal Pain In The Ass"
    whatever... :p
  9. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Member


    Eveanna took the time to post here in order to answer questions about a specific piece of gear that was being commented on. It looks like this dialogue may become a nice way to use instant-feedback from users, and may lead to developing a new modification on that unit.

    This shows that Eveanna is open to suggestions about her gear, and has the willingness to work WITH us to find and implement improvements to that gear. If other companies had that attitude, we would not have to complain endlessly about how much their gear sucks, because we would at least know improvements are being made - damn the bottom-line, corporate mentality.

    You could have voiced your concerns in a way that opens the door to further communication and cooperation with Manley, in order to make improvements on those pieces of gear you are dissatisfied with. But instead, you took potshots at someone who has clearly exhibited a desire and willingness to improve the quality of their products. IMO, this doesn't make much sense.

    What's more, there are few people who feel so vehemently about Manley gear as you do. Ok, so they're not your cup of tea, but they're not anywhere near as bad as what you're making them out to be. There are plenty of reaaaaly crap companies constantly mentioned on this BBS that you never bother to comment on. Why this personal vendetta against Manley?

    (Dead Link Removed)
    RO "Virtual Bar & Grille"</A>. Better yet, write some emails to yourself, print 'em out, put 'em in an envelope, and then mail 'em to yourself. Just don't do it in here.

    Thank you.

    p.s. Fletcher, sorry if I'm stepping on your toes man. I felt compelled to say something about this.
  10. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Member

    Originally posted by miketholen:
    Eve Anna postedHell, man, there's 8 tubes already in the thing how many more do ya want?
    Maybe a box that doesn't smoosh punchy low end into a glob of bile colored slime...

    Hey Mike, there are ways, and there are ways. I too think the low end on the Vari-Mu is kinda washy [nothing I haven't said directly to EveAnna], and if you had mentioned just that you would have seemed like an intelligent fellow. "Glob of bile colored slime", while descriptive, doesn't really describe what happens to the low end when it emerges from a Manley 'Vari-MU'. I have no idea what 'bile' looks like. Is it green? I think it's used to break down food in the digestive track, but am really unclear about it's color.

    The "smoosh punchy [good god, couldn't you come up with something other than an asshole marketing term here..."punchy", give me a break] low end" part is pretty descriptive. I understood the "smooshes the low end" part.
    Economy of language is often the best method to convey your message. The 'bile and vitriol' part is unwarranted.

    Why don't you get those tubes to do something usefull?

    They are useful, you didn't make a point here. Let's try to stay marginally constructive. From my perspective, I'm interested in hearing all comments about all kinds of equipment. From time to time, I will also have comments about equipment. But discuss the hardware, not the people behind the hardware.

    From what I understand, the tube selection and implementation on the Vari-MU is fine. From the bit of research I've done on the 'how's and whys' of the bottom getting 'washy', it's the way the output transformer is implemented that is causing this to happen, not the tubes. You didn't take the time to do your homework, you just shot from the hip with a juvenile display of pent up aggression, so, exactly what did you gain by that?

    she also said To put side chain inserts in our Variable Mu, and to do them, like, really nicely, is a royal pain in the ass!
    then I would assume that doing your stuff "really nicely" is a pain in the ass?

    Well, you know what they say about "assumptions" and putting words in her mouth doesn't change anything. I believe what EveAnna pointed out was that a side chain can indeed be implemented, but at fairly substantial cost, without what is perceived by the factory as a 'benefit that warrants the expenditure'.

    She didn't say anything about building her stuff nicely being a pain in the ass, only the implementation of a side chain in their 'Vari-MU' limiter to be a pain in the ass. If you go back to the very top of the thread, today's topic is: "Compressor side-chains", let's try to stay 'on topic' shall we?

    no wonder your boxes seemed a little "half-assed". they sure look cool though!

    "Half-assed" how? What do you find to be "half assed" about them? The designs? The construction? What? Do they use cheap components? Have you had problems with them on the road? Exactly what's half-assed about Manley product. Tell me what the ^#$% you find half-assed about it. You're a big boy, you know what you said...now explain it. [reference the Joe Pesci "you're a funny guy" schtick from the film "Goodfellas" to get the timing right for that little section].

    The designs are excellent. You may not like the sound of them, which is perfectly cool, but they're time tested principles that are pretty well executed. The construction is very solid, we've had very few Manley units fail in the field, which is a testiment to good construction and quality control.

    As for "looking cool", is that a liability? Did someone pass a rule when I wasn't looking that it's not "chic" to have good looking equipment? What the ^#$% is that all about? They should make it ugly? It should look like Behringer gear? What's your point here? I don't get it.

    Personally, I would save the term "half assed" for a unit that isn't well designed, or is poorly constructed; Manley equipment is neither.

    Oh I forgot, it took you ten minutes to come up with the design for the voxbox (i can barely say the word, it hurts so much...).

    Let's break this into two parts, the first where you attack EveAnna for a unit that wasn't part of the conversation...the VoxBox. So, exactly when did EveAnna say anything about it taking "10 minutes" to come up with the design for the VoxBox? I don't recall that as part of the conversation.

    Have you ever met 'Hutch'? If you knew 'Hutch' then you'd know that he's quite diligent in his design efforts, and it took significantly longer than "10 minutes" to design, implement, test and produce the VoxBox.

    You may not like the result, which is perfectly fine, anything that is 'universally loved' scares the $*^t out of me, but why get personal in a 'dumbass' way?...

    Something tells me that you wouldn't have made these comments to EveAnna's, nor Hutch's face, so why make them here? I would have said all of what I'm saying to you now to your face, so, unless you drop by the Manley booth at a trade show [AES would probably be a good one], find Hutch and EveAnna and say this BS to their face...then you're just being a 'cyber-pussy'. There are enough of those, I'd like to think the folks that come to my forum are better than that.

    If you give examples, without the personal attack BS, of what you don't dig about the tone of these units, then you will not only get your point across, but may teach somebody something in the process. By attacking the "people" as opposed to the "product", you just look like a fuckin' jerk.

    And to illustrate the "fuckin' jerk" part of your program we have the part below:

    so I guess it's not a pain to design cool lookin' $*^t but try to make it rock? It's too much of a "Royal Pain In The Ass"
    whatever... :p

    Exactly what does: "It's too much of a "Royal Pain In The Ass" whatever... :p " mean? Why are you attacking the person, rather than the product? That's kinda like 3rd grade $*^t [my 4th grade daughter knows better, my other daughter doesn't...she's in 2nd grade...hence the 3rd grade conclusion].

    I don't know what crawled up your ass and died, I don't know what you have against Manley product, but you seem to have a personal bias against EveAnna. Is it because she's a girl (I promise you, she does not have "cooties").

    Personally, I think it's great when participants in this forum challenge manufacturers and designers. I welcome and encourage it, but not on a personal level. If you have a beef, a question, a comment, keep it on a professional level.

    I'm going to leave your post up, this time. But bro, if you wanna get personal take it to the "bar and grille" forum, Homey don't play that $*^t in my neck of the woods. Am I ^#$%ing clear on that? If you want to get personal, get personal with me. See if you find that to be a career move.
  11. I generally find it retarded when people kudos other peoples posts...but that kicked ass, period.
  12. miketholen

    miketholen Guest

    Sorry-didn't mean to be personal to anybody at all. :)
    and I'm also sorry for the lack of a "fletcher approved" description(bile).
    and my attitude is uncalled for... I understand.
    but there was no aggression towardsanybody ;)
    as far as being halfassed-that would be the tones that it attempts to inflict upon a sound source.
    I know that the stuff is of meticulous construction, and yadda yadda, but the sound doesn't reflect that, to me. ;)

    the only one that has personaly attacked is you- fletcher, "^#$% Your Mother"? is that what you said to me? If I'm not mistaken it was you that has made personal attacks around here.
    why would being personal with you be a career move? I don't get it.
  13. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Member

    Ya know Mike, I don't remember if I told you to go ^#$% your mother or not...but if I did, what are you doing hanging around here? You have an assignment, please complete it to the best of your abilities.

    Now, if you'd care to describe what you find to be 'half assed' about the tone of the units, then you'd be a worthwhile contributor to this forum. At the moment, you're just a whining person with limited descriptive abilities. Please give us something useful, or give us a break.

    What part of the sound doesn't reflect it's meticulous construction? Do you find that in all the Manley units? Or just a couple of the units?

    While I have found the bottom to be rather 'washy' and 'indistinct' on the Vari-Mu in a 2 bus application, I have found plenty of other uses for the tool on other sounds within a mix. Perhaps you've not tried it in other potential applications?

    At the same time that I'm kinda ambivalent about the sonic character of the Vari-MU, the "Massive Passive" is perhaps the most unique and interesting/innovative equalizer to hit the market in the last 20 years. Besides the absolutely huge sonic characteristics, it has functions not found on any other equalizer I have ever seen.

    To me...that's a worthwhile accomplishment. Hey nobody is 100% all the time, but you seem to have something personal about Manley equipment. I don't understand it, and you're certainly welcome to your opinion, but when you express that opinion, would you be kind enough to attempt to define or at least describe the sonic characteristics you don't appreciate. Otherwise you're just whining, not helping.
  14. MMazurek

    MMazurek Guest

    I may be mistaken, but was there something posted above about EveAnna buffering my "Thingy"???

    (picture ButtHead...huh....huh.huh.....huh..................hey baby)
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