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Recommend budget vocal tracking compressor - £300

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by dickiefunk, Mar 17, 2011.


Which option for tracking vocals?

  1. Stick with Eureka compressor

    1 vote(s)
  2. ART Pro VLA II

    0 vote(s)
  3. DBX 166

    0 vote(s)
  4. FMR RNC

    0 vote(s)

    0 vote(s)
  6. FMR PCB-6a

    0 vote(s)
  7. Golden Age COMP 54

    0 vote(s)
  8. Overstayer compressor

    0 vote(s)
  9. other (please specify)

    2 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member


    I'm currently looking at improving my vocal tracking and have been busy sorting out a vocal booth and trying out various mics.
    I have been experimenting with using the compressor on my Eureka and have quite liked it on certain vocalists and tracks. To my ears the Eurekas compressor sounds pretty clean and transparent and extremeley quiet.
    I would not be using the compressor to compress the vocals hard, it would be for more subtle compression to tame some peaks whilst going into the Cubase 6.

    I've been doing some searches and these seem to be the most popular compressor's around £300 :-

    ART Pro VLA II
    dbx 160 (not sure which model)
    FMR PBC-6a
    Golden Age Projects Comp 54
    Overstayer Compressor

    Which of these would you recommend as being the most suitable vocal tracking compressor?
    Would any of these be a major improvement on the compressor in the Eureka?
  2. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Sorry I meant DBX 160 in the poll.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Stick with the Eureka. Like you said, it stays out of the way while doing its job.`
  4. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Thanks for the reply. Yes I do like the Eureka compressor I'm just wondering if there's anything that would do the job even better for around £300?

    I'm also quite interested in a compressor that would thicken things a little and add a little extra smoothness?
  5. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

  6. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Just revisited the linked thread b/c of Phil's reply - truly a primer from Shotgun and Dwoz!

    To focus on the OP's desired effect:

    I often run drums, vocals, bass, and acoustic instruments through a compressor for that same reason.
    I like to have the input just kiss the comp from time to time... little gain reduction and little ratio.
    I will use a comp before A/D as a sort of "safety" limiter for truly egregious peaks at times, too.

    Keep in mind - *I do this having an idea what I'm going to do to the track in the mix*
    I know what I want from the track, and am just doing a little prep work to make it fit better later.

    Finally, I can recommend both the RNP and dbx166 series - I use them for these purposes - but I doubt they'll match what the Eureka offers in quality.

    Beyond that, read the above-linked primer.
    It still teaches me, to this day.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I miss the Shotgun.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The only ones on your list that I've had any experience with are the FRM RNC and the DBX 160 and 166. I don't see either of those as a huge upgrade to what you already have, so I voted on sticking with the Eureka.

    My general opinion is that the best plugins beat the cheap hardware compressors at about the same price. (A much cheaper price if you are using multiple instances of the plugin.) What you really want is something like a UA LA2A - but that is 6-7 times your budget. My favorite compressor plugins are also by UA. Unfortunately, you need a UAD card (or now the satellite) if you want to try them out. We've had a couple of threads on the UAD plugins recently, so you might want to start there if you are interested.
  9. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    The old UAD1s should be rather cheap, now... Maybe 60 $ or so... and still good for a few instances of plugs.
    I still have DBXs 160 and Drawmers 424 in my rack, but I hardly ever use them. I mostly prefer Fairchild 670, LA2A & NEVE 33609 from UAD.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Since I have an older Mac, I just bought a UAD-1 and installed it. Superb is an adjective that comes to mind. They're a little more than $60 bucks not more than double in most cases. You want to be sure you're getting one that the previous owner will do their part in transferring ownership to your own UA account. Its all free but it is a process. The basic package includes the LA2-A, 1176's, Pultec, a couple of verbs and a channel-strip which has everything you might find in a 747 cockpit. Be aware that these are going to be limited with the number of tracks you can use them on, but they are incredible sounding. A lot like the real deal which I have used most of. Only no noise. I have mixed records at other facilities that have complete UAD-2 cards and several of each and this is the way to go. I have 1176's in my ProTools bundle and side by side its no contest. UA clearly is the better deal.

    I have two more slots to fill. If you have the PCI-E slots you're ahead of the game. I'm limited to PCI and PCI-X but its still quite a load off the cpu and everything is running faster and clearer.

    I'm starting to really miss the tape machine though.......

    I know......crazy talk!
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Dave - When (and given your reaction I'm sure it's when (not if)) you add a UAD-2 card make sure it's a Quad. You will love the Manley and it is a DSP hog. The Studer might make you miss the tape deck a bit less. Did you get the EMT-140 plate reverb? I love it.
  12. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member


    Massive Passive is really excellent, but when you export a mix using it, it takes ages.
    I guess they will have to re-write some of the programm to make it a bit less power consuming.
    The Quad gives you a lot of power. A full music production with complete NEVE-Console channel strips in each track, for example.. + a bag full of other FXs.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    yep. I already know that an outboard PCI-E array is in my future. As well as a bunch of those plugs. I'm also looking at a used TC Powercore card. They dont make em anymore and the TC stuff has migrated to UA. But this is REAL cheap and I wonder if it has any compatibility issues with a mix of the UAD-1 and it??....On a Mac. Power PC non intel....Leopard.

    I think I could actually be happy with these plugs.

    So, bigger, better, brighter computer, lots of UAD-2 cards with the plugs I like the actual hardware of, 16 track 2", 1/2" 3 track(center time code) new room, Harrison 10......dont want much do I....
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    They have the Satellite that works with the Mac as an outboard unit. Doesn't need a pcie slot. And be sure to try the Studer before you buy the 16 track 2". I like it, but I never used really good tape deck. I'd be interested in your reaction.
  15. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    On a properly set up PC a mix of those cards is no problem.
    For some time I ran 1 UAD1 PCI, 1 UAD1 PCIe, 1 UAD2 Quad and 1 PoCo PCIe on an AUSUS MoBo.
    Before that it was: 1 UAD1 PCI, 1 UAD1 PCIe, 1 PoCo PCI and 1 PoCo PCIe..
    No problems, at all. You also can run a max of 4 UAD1s and 4 UAD2s (+ PoCo).
    They just don't give us the MoBos for it.
    External extention boxes work well, but I try to avoid them, not only for the ridiculous money they cost.

    Satellite seems a nice thing for mobile, even inside a studio. But rumours are that UA will go native, sooner or later.
    That is not necessarily a bad idea and is also no show stopper, if the quality remains the same.
    UA has always been very generous. I am sure, if they go that way, there will be a change over policy that makes all existing users smile.
  16. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    I've been doing some research and the compressors that interested me the most are the Aphex Expressor 651, DBX 160XT or the ART Pro VLAII.

    I quite like the compressor in my Eureka which I would describe as pretty clean. How does the Apex 651 compare to the Eurekas compressor?

    Which would you recommend I get for vocal tracking?
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have two channels of Expressor. As well as two channels of Compellor. Tracking with them is a real trick as they are very very subtle in what they do. It gets down to what you are trying to achieve with a compressor in a tracking situation. If you are looking for control of dynamics then the Aphex stuff isnt what you want. The 160xt is better for that except you only want it to be barely on in order not to impart the tonality the VCA in the dbx imparts....unless you WANT it. I also have a VLA (not the II) and it adds a certain type of 'grit' to the sound. Again, its what you like. Tracking compressors, and this is simply my own way with them, are either for control of the headroom or they are for effect. For control, I select something as fast as possible and transparent. For effect then something that has that signature sound to it.....LA-2A, 1176, dbx 162, 160vu etc.....

    For mixing the Aphex stuff is really quite good and mostly overlooked these days. Because it does what it does without changing the inherant tonality of things, they can get overused without a lot of effort. I try to always remember that it doesnt have to change a lot to be enough.
  18. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Thanks for the reply. I'm looking for something that can be really transparent and can even out what's going to tape. I would have thought the Aphex would be a better choice for this than the DBX? Doesn't the DBX roll off the high frequencies a little?
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The dbx is a sound all to itself. Its a great sound in my book. I have several 900 series dbx comps . I believe they are the equivalent of the 160x rack box. Do they roll off the highs? Probably a bit. But they also impart a particular vibe to the source thats not unpleasant or unworkable. And you CAN compress the crap out of stuff with them. The Aphex, at least in todays market, are still incredible values for the performance. As I said, they are mostly overlooked in the market and have been quality pieces for a very long time. Theres a certain genius to what they accomplish and, as I have said, they are very very transparent in what they do.

    Are they 'better' ?? No, they are different animals and affect the program source in different ways.

    I have and still use both even with the PT rig if that tells you anything about choosing between the two.

    Years ago I couldnt decide so I bought both.
  20. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Yeah I think I'll eventually end up getting both of these aswell!!

    Think I'll keep an eye out for which one comes up at a bargain price first :)

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