The most useful compressor?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by audiokid, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Out of all the comps you've used or heard mentioned, what is the most useful, must have or desired mastering compressor?
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I can't remember the last time I didn't have the Crane Song STC-8M in the chain... The VariMu gets a workout now and then, the SSL a bit less, but the STC is by far the "go to" unit in the rack.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Only dealing w/ plug-in models... but get good use out of 1176 for individual channels and Vari-Mu for stereo apps... usually the 2-bus, but sometimes drum buses.

    While I'll use others from time to time, these tend to be my default comps, and also sometimes the 2500 models on stereo buses.

    FWIW - I'd love to see how my digital groups/buses would compare to the same stems sent to a hardware version of the same compressors.
    In addition to the accuracy of the modeling, I'm as interested in how the variances in signal chain and units play a role.
  4. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    For me, the Weiss gets used the most.
  5. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    Over here, the Weiss as well (De-esser or comp).
  6. BassFuzz

    BassFuzz Active Member

    API 2500 here, lots of options to change the tone making it pretty versatile compressor.
  7. BassFuzz

    BassFuzz Active Member

    I'd like to hear a Phoenix and a Requisite LM2 as I hear they are good compliments to a 2500.
  8. WaltzMastering

    WaltzMastering Active Member

    I have a love hate relationship with the Manley Vari-mu comp.

    Sometimes it can be very useful and other times it just pisses me off.

    I do like the Tube tech smc 2b and find that a bit more useful on a day to day basis.

    Been hearing good things about the Foote PC3 and wouldn't mind giving that a go
    at some point.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Okay, okay, are we actually talking most useful compressor or most useful limiter? And why? For instance, when I need limiting, the 1176 pair strapped for stereo works very well. On the other hand, if I want to impart a more "FM radio like sound", I'll use the Orban 418A. These units both have peak detectors.

    When I want the best overall wideband compression (we're not talking about spectral compressors are we?) I'll use DBX 165A's (RMS detectors with VCA gain reduction) or the UA LA 3A's with electroluminescent optical-based compressors.

    If I want the best spectral compressor, Dolby 165A's.

    And are we talking about recording applications or disc mastering? Like it really matters? Of course it does.

    I think we all understand this? A? (Or in Canadian speak, eh?)
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    LCD's make me nervous because they always diminish over time, rendering a perfectly great product useless. Trying to replace them or the backlight is a nightmare. Can you connect this to your PC for visual monitoring?
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    What is it that just pisses you off?
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Never heard about Foote. Did a search on it, only found Mercenary selling them. Rodger Foote Control Sytems. Does he have a website?
  13. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    I don't know if LCD's are problematic but I have the DS1 and the EQ1 for years and never had a problem. I think it is pretty easy to change if it needs to be replaced. No, you can't connect it to the PC for visual monitoring or control.

  14. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    Foote Control Systems P3S Demo - YouTube
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Those small LCD displays, very much like the ones on the Weiss fail over time but you are correct, there are third party techs that have the backlight foil to repair them close to new but most of the time, not like new. The replacement foil may crop off the edges making your display even smaller, including missing some content.
    Companies that make high end processors like this, which are 100% LCD reliant to function should always have an optional external monitor connection now.
    I've got two products here that cost over $14000.00 that are useless unless I patch something in that is close but not perfect. Plus, my eye sight isn't as great as it was including we're all becoming more and more accustomed to use large HD monitoring for everything. This is a major oversight. Just my 2 cents...

    Thanks for the Foote link!
  16. thor

    thor Active Member

    +1 for the Cranesong STC-8.

    Although to be fair, I have to say the Manley Vari-MU gets used on the lion's share of productions around here, just a gentle touch to bring everything together. It excels at emphasizing the rhythmic elements in a mix and putting everything in the same space. For pop/rock, it just sounds the business.

    We also have an API2500, which is eminently useful on stuff that's too extreme for the Manley or Cranesong, as well as things that really need a good spanking to sit up and bark ;-)

  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    thor, you put +1 for the Cranesong but I'm assuming if you had to make a choice, you would buy the Manley Vari-Mu first?
  18. thor

    thor Active Member

    Hi audiokid,

    in fact no. I'd have to do things a little bit differently, because the Manley gives you a lot for free that I'd have to work more at getting with the Cranesong, but it's there too. The problem with the Manley is that it seems as much an EQ as compressor, giving a nice presence boost that works for a lot of material. On harsh/cold sounding mixes it's not really appropriate, whereas the Cranesong can be used on anything and you can really get a range of sounds out of it. The Manley has one sound, one that in many cases is perfect, but not always.

    So I'd rather have a meat and potatoes compressor to begin with, before the Manley. Which is how I bought mine, STC-8/M first, then Manley, then API.

  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Would the STC-8 M be ideal for pop, dance, electronic music including classical? and the API 2500 for rocks ,blues and edgier music?

    I'm looking at used for both these. Has the STC-8 had any improvements in the last few years? Anything I need to be aware of with it?

    What are the differences between the mastering version?
  20. thor

    thor Active Member

    I think it's weird and misleading to think of one compressor for one type of music or another. Yes, I know that SSLs were used on lots of pop/rock, etc. Sometimes I'll use the API on a jazz master, or the STC-8 on black metal. It all depends. I use a compressor more to sculpt the rhythmic and dynamic feel of the music than to add volume or any specific "tone", I rarely hit the compressor hard enough for it's "sound" or tone to come through at all. I think the exception to this would be the Manley, which due mostly to the transformers does add "character" even at conservative settings. The API can be used to make things aggressive, but there are other ways to get there... It can also be exceedingly transparent, as can the STC-8 (which can also be made to 'sit up and bark' when needed).


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