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Do you really need a distressor?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by coldsnow, Jan 18, 2002.

  1. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    OK if you get a 1176 (say a Purple Audio) and an LA2a type comp. (say a Manley El Op), and you have the RNC and an Avalon 737, do you really need something that is trying to emulate the things you have? I know it's another part of your pallet yada yada yada. Seems the only thing I'd need it for is the harmonic distortion stuff but is this really better than real tubes and transformers?
  2. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    No other true parametric compressor I have found provides as much potential coloration as a distressor. I find the Distressors essential to my kick, snare, and electric guitar sounds even when tracking through a transformer coupled preamp (I'm going to digital). Every other source I could live without it on, but not those three. I have a pair of Manley El-op's (they are in my voxboxs, which I am letting go BTW), Millennia STT-1 (essentially w/ a TCL-2 opto), a pair of UA 1176's, a pair of RNC's, the EL-8's, and the UAD-1 card (which is the best sounding plugs I have heard).

    A pair of Crane Song Trakkers would complete my list but they seem to be more for 'hi-fi diversity' rather than 'slam & color'....which would be a very welcome compliment to the arsinal. I record mostly guitar based rock and roll (Mesa Amps & hard hitting drummers), so I need the EL. If you rarely or don't ever do that, I would say the 1176's (get the Purple BTW, just for the sake of supporting the guys that really deserve it) will provide more than enough color...maybe coupled with a Crane Song HEDD or FATSO Jr. Lots of choices. I hope this helped a bit.
  3. Speedy

    Speedy Guest

    I dig the kick / snr stuff, but why is the EL-8 essential for el. Gtr sounds?
    Don’t gtr amps provide more than enough coloration control?


  4. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Originally posted by Zooot:
    Dont gtr amps provide more than enough coloration control?

    Not enough for my tastes. It becomes really apparent when you listen with and without the coloration. Basically I try to get it to emulate tape as much as the box can. Nothing sounds like guitars to tape (or some close approximation containing some musical harmonic distortion & compression), and even an all tube Mesa or Sovtek to digital still lacks when put to plain digital. I hear it, and the guitar players at the studio really hear the difference too. YMMV.
  5. Steve Hudson

    Steve Hudson Active Member

    Another vote for the Distressor. I have a pair and find them to be the most useful and flexible outboard gear in my racks. While my Manleys, 1176, TubeTech, dbx, Drawmer and joemeek comp/limiters each have a unique sound and applications, I've found that the EL-8 can emulate both the dynamic effect and coloration of all of those. If I could have just one pair of compressors, it would be Distressors.
  6. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    I'm guessing what Nathan likes about Distressors on electric guitar is the third harmonic distortion they can generate, which tends to make things sound brighter, airier, possibly more present. Master volume type guitar amps, as are usually used these days for harder rock styles, lean on triode preamp distortion, which is predominantly second harmonic in character, wheras old non-master amps of the "classic rock" era drove power sections into distortion, and the push-pull pentode circuits introduce some odd harmonic distortion into the mix (think Marshall Super Lead). Additionally, tape saturation is 3rd harmonic distortion, so it can give a bit of a tape emulation effect. Now, if Nathan is leaning on the second harmonic distortion, my theory is shot to hell, but it seems like a good guess.

  7. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    How's this for a different opinion. I don't use distressors all that much, and recently sold two of the four distressors in my studio.

    In general, they are better for *smash* than for subtle/natural. I find them great on overheads and room mics and not bad on acoustic guitar, bass and snare. In R&B/rap mixes, they are great on the sine-wave parts.

    Most of the time though, I'd rather use 2" tape and the classic comps the distressor manual claims to emulate.

    It would not be my 'desert-island' comp if for no other reason than I do not particularly like it on lead vocals.

  8. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Originally posted by Bear's Gone Fission:
    I'm guessing what Nathan likes about Distressors on electric guitar is the third harmonic distortion they can generate,

    Actually Bear you are totally right...and it's not subtle either. I'll do Dist 3 w/ link ON. I it is set right up to the point where you hear the crackly effect from it being overkill, and then roll it off so that never happens. It's never been too much on any project and it's been sucessful time and time again. As a matter of fact, I turn it off just to see what the bands will say and usually the reply is "what happened to the guitar tone?". It's been a lifesaver, but little things like that can go a long way towards making a production really sweet instead of just average IMO.
  9. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    I love my Distressors! Sure, it'll kinda emulate all those other comp's, but IMO that is NOT the reason to have 'em around. I use mine primarily as effects boxes, to do the things that NO other compressor will do. NUKE mode? Fuggedaboudit. Plus the distortion modes are a godsend for those of us in DAW territory. I agree with Jon, the Distressor probably wouldn't be my first-call comp for vox... but for many sources, when "that sound" is called for, it is my magic box. Love 'em.

    Hey Nathan, why are you selling your VoxBoxes? I have two of those and love the hell out of 'em! Especially since you're a DAW guy too, I woulda thought that the Manley creaminess would be the cat's meow especially if, as you say, you're trying to get "tape emulation"... IMO, that buttery Manley flavor goes a long way towards phattening up any source on a DAW! And, I reckon the VB pisses all over the STT-1 (unless you're doing audiophile jazz or classical recordings... but you're a rock'n'roll guy right?) What the dillio?!?
  10. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Originally posted by EJolson:
    I reckon the VB pisses all over the STT-1 (unless you're doing audiophile jazz or classical recordings... but you're a rock'n'roll guy right?)

    After you have the Tranny and the tubes in on the STT-1 the coloration is just about equivalent to the Manley, but there is a fundamental difference in tone between the two that I find much more to my liking on the MM. Don't stereotype the MM STT-1 as only being the same as the solid state HV3B...it does have that potential because it contains that very circuit. But no other piece in their line has a transformer in the path, and it makes a difference when producing thick low frequency distortion as compared to their pristine purely solid state line. Fortunately the STT-1 is only 65% the cost of the Voxbox, which makes much more sense to me considering I personally prefer the STT-1.

    The STT-1 is much more open sounding & versatile even with the extra coloration, which for me, is a means to the ends of what I hear in my head. It's infinitely more useful to have the choice of flavors, than just one. Also I don't use the Voxboxs as a stand alone unit ever, and rarely if ever use the pre's. A transformer coupled pre will go in front of the VB, then usually to the elop/eq section of the VB for just a touch of that, and then to the Distressors or maybe an 1176 (even if the attack is off just for the tone benefit). I don't rely on just one item in the signal path for my sound (for r'n'r) and the magic lies in the combo of different pieces in a series. The STT-1 can easily take the place of the Voxboxs and has the added benefit of more parametric control of the EQ and Elop compression (almost fully parametric on the Millennia, where as the Manley has the more traditional fixed 10:1 non linear limiter and 3 band boost-cut-boost Pultec...I'm not even touching the front section with the pre and 3:1 elop which means I have half of both VB's not being used...do the math). To each his own I suppose, that's what makes this fun.
  11. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    i'm having kick trouble on my distressor...tips/ratios/settings?


  12. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Start with 6:1, attack @ 5, release @ 0. If you want more percussiveness (ie transient) go to a higher # with the attack. If you want less punch and more sustain go to a higher # with the release. The ratio really depends on how consistent the drummer is, and the higher the ratio the less apparent low end. I personally like 6:1 though...it's tight. It's great on Samples too, but usually the ratio is lower and the attack is on 10 (slowest) because there is no variation of volume in a single sample. You can really slam it too with the gain reduction, just listen carefully to what it does in the context of the whole kit, and how it effects the bleed (if any) going into the kick mic. In other words use your ears not your eyes. Mess around with the side chain functions...I usually leave both filters off for kick unless it's a really fast band with busy kick and then I'll usually compress just the mids. Good Luck!
  13. rivers

    rivers Member

    does the "link on" button have any effect when using just 1 distressor(mono... to be redundant).

    (still learning how to use my distressor)
  14. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Oh yeah :D ...somehow it allows you to get more available harmonic distortion above and beyond the regular Dist 3. From my experience it seems to up each one to another level...Distortion 2 goes into the red, Dist 3 just cranks. I usually find it to my liking to have the link on...maybe I'm just crazy.
  15. rivers

    rivers Member

    that was a quick reply!
    I've played around with the detector and audio buttons but haven't got a solid handle on them yet,will try the link suggestion.
    Do you have any quick and dirty starting points (for the detector/audio buttons)for Gtrs,Vox and drums.
    I've been having good luck with the opto setting for vox.
  16. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    See a few posts above for drums. The high pass functions are good for cleaning up snare. It rolls off everything below 60 cycles. I like the opto setting a lot for electric guitars also (10:1 attack 10, release 0). Dist 3, Link ON. I don't usually push it past -4 on peaks, but you may like more (or less). I haven't really messed around with it on vocals...I tried it once and it just seemed too thick (maybe the VCA?) for brighter/light/airy sources (ie voxs, overheads, acoustic guitars) which usually get sent to the 1176's. The EL-8 has got a really fast grab (but so does the 1176) so I would think Elop would work well, although the 10:1 ratio seems a little steep (although the attack/release on the elop is non linear so it will react differently depending on how hard you gain reduce). I would probably do a little light elop when tracking for just the peaks and then maybe a 2:1 with a faster attack, and slower release on mixdown.
  17. Mad John

    Mad John Active Member

    Hello everyone,

    Who uses the Brit Channels and when?

    Also , why is it that the Brit Channel change the Led indicators responce to bare minimum?

    Lastly , does any body use the Distressors for 2-bus mixdowns?

    Cheers you all!

    Mad John
    Zythum Studios

    "The presaent day Composer refuses to die!"
    Edgar Varese - 1921
  18. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Lastly , does any body use the Distressors for 2-bus mixdowns?

    Damn few. Stereo linking is not their strong suit, and a lot of folks find it extreme for two bus. Then again, the SSL/Alan Smart compressor does have it's adherents for two bus, and I understand that is pretty extreme sounding.

    Back before Jules moderated this forum there was a long thread on two bus compressors, with lots of opinions chipped in. Might be worth a look if you need to search for something new. (BTW, you have the Vari-Mu, right? Did you have the T-bar mod, or whatever they call it, done?)

  19. Mad John

    Mad John Active Member

    Hi Bear ,

    Yes I did have the mod done on the MU and I must say I am quite pleased to say the least!

    The bass responce has more depth coupled with clarity that is so improved that I cant recomend the mod for you Manley MU users enough!

    A tighter less foggy result can be expected.

    ** I did not think many peolpe used the Distressor for mixdowns (would seeem to brite and harsh in most cases I would think!)

    Mad John
    Zythum Studios

    "The present day Composer refuses to die!"
    Edgar Varese - 1921
  20. Irene

    Irene Guest

    Is this what most people think? Is the "stereo image link" really not up the job???


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