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Educate Me

Discussion in 'Recording' started by XTREEMMAK, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. XTREEMMAK

    XTREEMMAK Active Member

    Our studio as of now is entirley (for the most part) digital, however in a few days, we will receive our first signal processor, an ART PRO VLA 2 channel tube Compressor / Limiter. Not only will we be using it on vocals and some instruments, but I also heard that sometimes it's common practice to add it to the mixdown as well for mastering purposes.

    Now I've been checking out a few of these other studios on the web and taking a look at there gear list specifically in the signal processor sections. Here's a list I found from this one studio:

    Neve 33609C Stereo Comp/Limiter
    Summit Stereo Tube DCL 200 Comp/Limiter
    Manley MU Stereo Tube Comp/Limiter
    Urei LA2A Mono Tube Comp/Limiter
    Avalon VT-737
    Urei 1176N Comp/Limiter
    (2) DBX 160X Comp/Limiters
    DBX 166 Comp/Limiter
    (2) DBX 902 De-esser
    Orban 516EC De-esser
    (3) Kepex II Gates
    SSL Gates/Comp/Limiters

    Probably the next signal processing unit that we'll be getting is a 31 band eq, but then something hit me. Why exactly do people stack compression processed signals? Or do they just simply have these compressors on hand because of taste or an effect that they are going for? They dont necesarily use all of them right? Mabe alot of them are used for individul sections on drums mostly ect ect? I dont know.
     
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Howdy -

    "Educate Me" is a very apropos title.
    :cool:

    First - the ProVLA is a very useful piece of hardware. However, I would suggest that "out of the box" it is near useless in the mastering chain. It works fine for vocals and even some percussion (I like it on hand percussion).

    Personally I modified mine by replacing the existing OpAmps with both Analog Devices and Burr Brown OpAmps as well as replacing the tubes with matched Mullards. In all, the upgrades cost less than $100 and took about 3 hours, but was well worth it. Now, I don't hesitate to use the device for mastering.

    Second -

    A 31 band EQ?????????? Why?????????? Just out of curiosity, when you were visiting others' sites, did you see anyone that was using a 31 band (or any graphic for that matter) EQ? Probably not.

    In general, graphic EQs are reserved for live sound guys. You won't find many "high-quality" graphic EQs. Also, a graphic EQ has no control over what you're doing to a frequency other than boost or cut. With a good 2 or 3 band parametric, you can work with minor adjustments at crucial frequencies and get what you need done. Graphic EQs are also notorious for horrible phase mutations and noise issues. STAY AWAY from graphic EQs (unless you do a lot of live sound).

    My personal rule of thumb is - If I have to use more than 2 bands of EQ during mixing or mix-down, I have probably recorded something wrong.

    The bad news is, good parametric EQs are expensive. As for hardware, your cheapest and/or best bets would be Speck or Toft Audio EQs. For software - there are tons of good EQs available for things like the UAD or TC plug-in cards.

    In any case, good luck and enjoy the hardware world! A few years ago, I made the switch to all-outboard processing and I have been delighted ever since. It's a horribly expensive proposition (just think of all the $$$$ in cables and patchbays alone!!), but well worth it!

    J.
     
  3. XTREEMMAK

    XTREEMMAK Active Member

    Hmmm

    I can understand that. I guess also considering that in alot of cases it's best to come in dry and eq within the DAW. If a desired effect is desired on an instrument (guitar per say) were they use there own eq, then they'd just rout their gear through the DAW then. Good you just saved me some money :D.

    Now the question about the compressors. I know depending on how involved the project is you may need a number of compressors for different situation like you may want to use the DBX compressor on the snare and high hats while you may want to use some other compressor for the kick and tombs (just as an example) but is that the general reason why there are so many in the first place? What are some other common situation in signal compression stacking?

    Considering our studio, the most regarding instrument recording we will do is (till we get a space) bass, guitar (electric and accoustic), keyboard(s), vocals, and accoustic drums depending on the set up. We cant record drum sets considering our space unless they were electric.

    I'm guessing but the reason behind getting different compressors and limiters is because how they sound (duh). Anyone know were to hear examples of them? I'd like to hear some audio demos of comparisons between compressors, mics, ect ect, but for some odd reason, my local guitar center doesn't do that lol.
     
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well, yes - different compressors are used for their different flavors.

    Some compressors are infinitely controllable while others have only 1 or 2 knobs giving you a few more limitations (though these are usually the ones that are sought after for their flavors).

    In general, learning how to use a compressor correctly is step number one. After that, the choice for the right compressor becomes easier for 2 reasons -

    1 - you'll probably already know which one will work for you
    2 - you'll be able to make whichever compressor you have handy do what it is you want it to.

    One of my favorite compressors on the mareket is the DBX 266XL.

    It's cheap and borderline crappy, but it's tweakable and you can get some good sounds out of it. If you're expecting something earth-shattering, you won't get it but you will get a very predictable compressor which will do just about everything there is to do with a comp.

    J.
     
  5. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    $ .02

    cucco's got you started pretty well though i gotta admit i dont like the 266 that much but i do have a 166 in my live rig and it has performed well...(keyboards) but the bottom line is get your hands on one... play with the attack and release..... try different ratios...... does it have a gate?
    attack for instance... what oyur talking about hear is how long after the sound exceeds the threshold does it compress... so as an example if the atack is slow/long more of the initial sound gets through so despite the squashed dynamic some of the "urgency" still comes through... or ratios dou you want to hide the fact that your using one (alot of these guys poo-poo using them but believe me they do)try a lower ratio so it kicks in gradually... a gate for instance can be used to in effect turn off the mic till something happens..... (gotta noisy guitar amp or bleed through from drum mics?) akeyable input is also a nice feature to have... for instance in commercialls its used to turn down the background in the presense of the voice and return to naormal after its stopped..... compressors are your friend.... just learn WHEN to use them....
     
  6. XTREEMMAK

    XTREEMMAK Active Member

    hmm

    What I would really like to hear though, is some examples of the compressors I'm interested in. I meen I'd probably have a better understanding between the difference in certain processors if I could just hear them. I meen now I'm eye balling an Eurika Pro Recording Channel Compressor and in the back of my mind I'm like why? It's a nice flashy $500.00 compressor that I've seen some good reviews for but will it benifit me? In short I answer I dont know. You dont just buy a car from a dealler without driving it first is basically what I'm saying.
     
  7. XTREEMMAK

    XTREEMMAK Active Member

    hmm

    What I would really like to hear though, is some examples of the compressors I'm interested in. I meen I'd probably have a better understanding between the difference in certain processors if I could just hear them. I meen now I'm eye balling an Eurika Pro Recording Channel Compressor and in the back of my mind I'm like why? It's a nice flashy $500.00 compressor that I've seen some good reviews for but will it benifit me? In short I answer I dont know. You dont just buy a car from a dealler without driving it first is basically what I'm saying.

    My question is, how would I go about doing this? I meen they just dont have all the possible compressors and signal processing units on display and hear test at a guitar center anymore. Mabe ask around here? To compile a before and after example?
     
  8. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    $ .02

    perhaps you dont appreciate the insanely huge undertaking that would be... even if we limited our scope to say 1 each of a tube/optical/vca/fet...with only 3 attacks say 2 5 10 and similar with releases...... and before and after..... so you can decide what to buy eventually.... learn the vla.... bird in the hand and all that...
     
  9. XTREEMMAK

    XTREEMMAK Active Member

    umm

    Well I'm not saying limit your choice to say one specific compressor for a specific purpose, that I know isn't possible considering the many compressors out there and two, the taste in wich you want the situation to be felt. What I'm saying is I want to hear what some of these generally sound like and there key differences is all. That way I can decide on the general flavor, approach, and sound that I would want to take.

    Well also from reading your post and a small bit of the tech stats of my and other compressors, it seems that one key roll in how things are compressed is it's format "correct me if I'm wrong" (vca's and such). Hopefully this will be explained in the book I'm reading.
     

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