Looking For A Compressor

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters' started by Recording Engineer, Feb 7, 2002.

  1. Recording Engineer

    Recording Engineer Active Member

    Hello,

    I'm looking for a compressor I'll mainly be using on lead vocals while mixing. It will be for rock vocals and I'm looking for something that I can really hear the effects of the unit when compressed a lot with loosing the top-end or clarity and gives a very full and big sound, but cuts through the mix at the same time.

    New or used (it doesn't matter), I'm wondering what my narrowed-down choices might be from $500 and below, $1000 and below, and $1000 and up.

    Thank You for your time.
     
  2. mixfactory

    mixfactory Guest

    Wow what a tough question. I mix records for a living with a lot of vocals and i can tell you right now, no compressor will be your end all cure all, especially when mixing leads. Unless its a Fairchild and it doesn't sound like that's in your ballpark(if it is i apologize). To be honest, anyone that mixes will tell you that there are a couple of criteria:1) what condition is the vocal in? Does it need a shiny jacket or does it need a nice fur coat? 2) a common thing is to use multiple channels of compression-for eg; A tube channel, a solid state channel, a digital/plug in channel all happening at the same time or at different times in the song.3) does it need both a signature and some kind of control, which in english means two compressors in series. There are (4) compressors which I own that I go to first and if one of these doesn't work, than I start doing combis or I go to unfamiliar ones.
     
  3. mixfactory

    mixfactory Guest

    Recording Engineer

    I forgot to post that besides the Fairchild, a lot of people will suggest an 1176 for this purpose. The only thing is that there are 3 different versions and they each impart there own character to the vocal. I am one of those people that is tired of that sound(even though sometimes I do use it, but not one of those particular Urei comps). Also how the vocal was tracked(vocal chain) is important. For example if you tracked with an La2a, using an La2a at the mix might be overkill.
     
  4. Recording Engineer

    Recording Engineer Active Member

    Hey, thanks for the reply.

    Yeah, I know there's no end all cure all anything. I'm not hoping for that. In fact, I'm not looking for a compressor I'll be using all that often. Most of the time I don't do hard rock stuff, just on the occation I do, I need to get that lead vocal you hear in rock today for client satisfaction or the VERY rare occation I feel it's what the song needs.

    Vocals are cut on a variety of mics. Usually a transformerless large diaphragm condenser such as a Neumann TLM-103 or Milab VIP-50, but every sometimes on an RTT VM100, Studio Projects C3, or 797 Audio CR998; and eventually an SPA modded one.

    I just about always use a DaviSound TB-3 preamp/compressor with the Tube OUT; which is a transparent-type IC-based transformerless preamp and the optical compressor usually at 2:1-6:1 depending on the situation. Otherwise, I use a DaviSound TB-1 (a color-type preamp) with a FET input gain stage, tube gain stage, and Class A output gain stage. That goes to an FMR Audio RNC compressor set for the situation. I eventually will make a Neve variant preamp and possibly an API variant preamp purchase over the next few years, but it won't be for quite awhile.

    It's all being tracked to an Alesis HD24 and mixed on an analog console. The board is a Mackie SR324VLZPRO (I know), but is only temporary until my console is finished being built; around the end of this year.

    It should also be noted that this is not for the screaming at the top of your lungs rock vocals.

    I know a compressor is not going to automaticly lay your lead vocals perfect in the mix for you, but I'd like a compressor to use during mixdown to help give a huge sound with a VERY aggressive presence that helps pull the lead vocal out of the mix without sucking-up the high-end clarity. Maybe I need a nice EQ to help bring the high-end clarity back in?
     
  5. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    The RNC has gotten great revues for the dollars. It seems to win hands down in the bang for the buck department.
     
  6. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Make a Pre-amp .... :D

    Have you any ideas yet or are you just thinking out aloud?
    If you have circuit ideas ,"tell me more, tell me more." ;)
    Just love that DIY.
     
  7. miketholen

    miketholen Guest

    Distressor?
    :w:
     
  8. Tom Cram

    Tom Cram Active Member

    Mike, I didn't know that Tab-FunkenWerk made the Distressor. :D
     
  9. mixfactory

    mixfactory Guest

    Recording Engineer

    You are right, an EQ helps a lot. My chain 99% of the time when mixing vocals is:tape return(direct of the machine)-EQ-comp-EQ. I only put the comp first, when the vocals are so lackluster that they need "something". And in those circumstances, the compressor is acting more like an EQ. The reason I said earlier its a tough one is because without hearing the vocal, its a blind reccomendation. This may help you or not. If the vocal doesn't sound huge already, than this is a problem. Maybe you can write what the chain was when tracking, and that will give an idea of the color of the vocal.
     
  10. mixfactory

    mixfactory Guest

    Hi Recording Enginneer

    I read your post again and it seems that the vocal is coming off really "clean sounding"(if I am wrong please correct me). And if I am guessing right you want a more agressive/fuller sound? First of all is the music agressive or mellow? Second of all what is the instrumentation? Third are you going to compress the mix? Off the bat, if you want an agressive in your face vocal, a good combination is an La3a(compressed really hard), followed up by either an SSL comp or a DBX160X(these will catch the peaks) of course with some kind of EQ(maybe a Pultec, just for the coloration)and a more surgical EQ for the careful things. If the vocal is too thin, than you'll have to beat into shape. The Neve comp's are very good for this purpose-a 2254 if you want a darker tone or a 33264a for a more even color. Of course you'll have to EQ like crazy but it will get you there. If you want to go the tube route-an LA2a/BA660 is always a good bet, and there are others. If you like the vocal, but it just needs some light touches-CL1B,1176,blue230,LA22,Avalon 2044,33609. Like I said there are many choices, and these are just some. Hope it helps.
     
  11. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    For a real good deal, around 900. Peavey AMR (don't be fooled by it being Peavey) makes a VCL2 which is an all tube el op design. I really like it on a lot of things. I recently acquired a distressor and this kills it for vocals, although the distressor kills the VCL2 for drums. anyways, it's a two channel unit made somewhat similar to the LA2a is transformer ballanced in and out. REAL WARM sounding. I recently opened mine up to see what was inside. 4 groove tube tubes per channel. Just a suggestion. I Use it if I want a real tube round sound and use a Purple 1176 if I want a edge hot sound.
     
  12. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Ummm... I think that was a syntactical snafu... "make a purchase of a Neve variant" would have been clearer than "make a Neve variant....purchase"
     
  13. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    Or simply, "purchase a Neve variant." :roll:

    Wow, this is taking me back to high school English class. Thanks guys!
     
  14. Good recomendations by the Thrill Factor. These days I mostly use a similar approach, starting with either a 2254, LA-3A or LA-2A depending on the vocal track/song context, often followed by something else like an 1176, sometimes a 160.

    I have not tried it but maybe a Cranesong Trakker could be a good first buy if you don't have the dough for a lot of different compressors right away. It seems very flexible and will undoubtedly be still very useful when you have built up a collection of other compressors.

    Just an idea... :w:
     
  15. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

  16. Recording Engineer

    Recording Engineer Active Member

    Yeah, sorry about the "snafu"; and I'm A LOT better at writing than talking!

    "I read your post again and it seems that the vocal is coming off really "clean sounding"(if I am wrong please correct me). And if I am guessing right you want a more agressive/fuller sound?"

    Well, yeah, it's absolutely clean and for the most part it's pretty darn full; I'm happy with it most of the time. But in heavier rock stuff with the "wall of guitar" and simply a dense mix, the lead vocal(s) don't seem to have as big of a sound as is expected from clients in modern rock these days. And I'd like A LOT more aggressiveness as to grab the listener's ears and pull the lead vocal out of the dense mix.

    "First of all is the music agressive or mellow? Second of all what is the instrumentation? Third are you going to compress the mix?"

    The music can be either and I can feel the same situation with the lead vocal. The instrumentation is usually the standard rhythm guitar (it can be acoustic or electric), lead electric, bass, drums, vocals. I myself never do. I leave it open to the discretion of the mastering engineer.

    "The reason I said earlier its a tough one is because without hearing the vocal, its a blind reccomendation. This may help you or not. If the vocal doesn't sound huge already, than this is a problem. Maybe you can write what the chain was when tracking, and that will give an idea of the color of the vocal."

    Actually, there really isn't any vocal to hear. I don't have a song particularly in mind. Well actually, I do simply because my band is recording our second album and we have one heavier rock-type song (we play "fusion-pop", but this song is more rock) that I feel a more radio rock type of vocal sound is what this song is calling. This just sparked my inquiry.

    But, it should be noted that my band really won't be using this compressor (at least on vocals) for the most part. It's more for those occational hard rock clients demanding a more "Like the rock songs on the radio." type of lead vocal; probably ala Creed or something... Hell if I know...

    So as far as a vocal signal-chain while tracking, what I posted before are pretty much my options. And most of the time, it's usually a Neumann TLM-103, Milab VIP-50, or 797 Audio CR998 to a DaviSound TB-3.

    If you'd like to hear the song I was referring to with my band, you can go to:

    http://briefcase.yahoo.com/bc/recordingengineerus

    Click on My Documents.
    Click on "Tornado Drum Take". OR
    Right-Click on "Tornado Drum Take" and 'Save Target As'.

    The drums (I'm the drummer) were recorded in my living room, with the other instruments live in an iso-booth just for reference scratch tracks. Unfortunetly, this version doesn't have the vocals in it.

    To hear the vocalist (my older brother) and hear what type of voice he has, you can listen to "Put Out The Dog" there too if you'd like. Of course, if anyone cares to listen to any of the others, feel free.

    These aren't the smallest MP3s, sorry.

    But again, this compressor really won't be used on vocals in my band; probably just once or twice if the song calls for it.

    Thank You for your time.
     
  17. Punchmo

    Punchmo Member

    I'm one of those people who in this case, would use an 1176 on the vox. The 1176 brings a lot to the party...that's why they're still around and now being re-issued.
    Steve
     
  18. mrpoole

    mrpoole Guest

    track with the distressor in opto mode, mix with the distressor in nuke mode.

    thats sounds like a record.

    H out.
     
  19. "Or simply, "purchase a Neve variant."
    Wow, this is taking me back to high school English class. Thanks guys! "

    Buy a Neve copy?

    You must have had more fun in high school english than me.
    Ted
     
  20. BOBMIX

    BOBMIX Guest

    If you can afford it(!?!?), the Distressor is easily the most versatile (both sonically and operationally) compressor I've ever used. This covers 30 years of recording and mixing. That said, the variables of the program material and what sonic result you want are the real big issues. With that in mind, the versatility of the Distressor stands out even more. On the less expensive side, the RNC (Really Nice Compressor) out of Nashville is absolutely amazing for the price. There are many others which I own and/or love, but if you can only have one for now.....
     

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