Skip to main content
forums, blogs, song critique, support & more...

Poll on dirt cheap secret weapons / 1st example incl. MP

Hi everyone,

This already has been posted over at George Massenburg's board - Just don't want to miss your valuable feedback.

I guess most of you over here have some bargain one trick ponies in their racks. Wouldn't it be nice to share this information?
There have been numerous threads in pro audio forums leading to a wide popularity and acceptance of inexpensive studio gear - FMR RNC, behringer ECM8000 omnis, etc.

Let me start the listing with a warm recommendation on some piece of vintage german studio gear: The siemens W295b solid state EQ:

You can grab these units for around $150.00 second hand - quite often on eBay Germany.
I dropped an MP3 with samples on drums, female vocals and acoustic guitar . File size is just 1 MB - should be worth the download. You'll also find detailed information on the settings over there.

From what I can compare with, these are the sweetest, silkiest trebles I came across so far. A no-brainer on vocals. Also the low shelve adds a lot of punch to drums.

I'd be glad to hear of your personal cheapo secret weapons. For example, I read from tom cram (techie @ dbx), that the dbx 119 compressors are supposed to be very close sounding to the 160VUs. I just won the auction on a 118 at eBay => 40 bucks.
As soon as I have it here in Germany, the 118 will be compared to my pair of 160VU's and I'll post the results including an MP3 with the A/B-verdict.

The goal would be to get together something like the "ultimate best bang for the buck shopping guide" including all the neglected "sleepers".
Very much looking foward to hearing from you...
All the best.


The audio samples are taken from a demonstration CD from Royer Labs featuring the R121 ribbon mic. Please notify if there are copyright issues - I'll clear the MP3 from the web immediately. Thanks.


Profile picture for user anonymous

anonymous Fri, 03/22/2002 - 04:25

I want a $1,000/pr. for my W295b's because they are so special sounding. Some of my other favorite 'el cheapo' tools are an Ashley SC-50 compressor (great for lead guitar!!) Some Neumann 'TEVa' eq's... CBS Labs "Audimax" and "Volumax" compressors and limiters... Loft 450 analog delays, damn near anything 'Acoustilog' has ever made rules... and of course the venerable Shure SM-57 (greatest mic ever made!!... they rarely sound great, but never sound like shit!!).

Your mileage may vary...

coldsnow Fri, 03/22/2002 - 17:56

Cheap is relative but the AMR Peavey VMP-2 2 channel mic pre eq for 700 and the VCL-2 two channel el op compressor for around 900. Both are all tube signal paths and sound great. Lowest priced professional tube mic pre and el op compressor on the market IMO. A couple of years ago (and a lot of dollars ago) I considered these high ticket items, that is what I get from hanging out here I guess.

Profile picture for user anonymous

anonymous Fri, 03/22/2002 - 18:52

OK! I got it!

My $100 Sony cassette ghetto blaster, with phono inputs..

I always do my final mixing on it..

And! Pro Tools "For Free" (available off the Digidesign website), OK it's only 8 tracks but we do vocal editing with it (on a laptop) and it's good for an intern to mess around with...


BOBMIX Fri, 03/22/2002 - 19:29

ok. I know this means I'll never be able to find another one, but Peavy made a guitar spring reverb with a tube front end called "Valverb" for a minute some years ago. It does several things very well; 1) instant twin ca, 1972, spring reverb and all, 2) provides a great warm front end for d.i. guitar, 3) has a killer tremolo, maybe the best part of it. Creamy warm. To top it all off, the faceplate (1 rack space) is chrome.

e-cue Sat, 03/23/2002 - 12:41

•DBX163X Compressor,@$50-$75 has 1 control besides level input, a slider for compression. These half space units sound perfect for many rock guitar sounds. The High-Z input is good for tracking a 'less pretty' bass sound.
•Behringer Edison, @$75-$100 used, and killer spatialzer
•Boss AutoWah AW-2 guitar pedal@1 bag of weed for any guitarist that has one & doesn't use it: Bus straight out of board (I know, I know, the impedences won't match) with a Bass, and add this back with your original bass sound
•Baby Monitor, mine is a fisher price..@$20: Place in front of live drum kit. Mic "reciever" with sm57, or whatever mic is laying around. I would suggest recording this onto it's own track so you can slide it foward in time, because there will be a time delay. Killer 'lo fi' effect. I like muting all the live 'pretty' drums and letting this track solo in 1 part of a song for great contrast.

Now I guess I'll chain all these together & see what it sounds like.

phat-ass Sat, 03/23/2002 - 13:19

RFX Vibraflange. Not strictly a recording thing. But it is sweet. Ibanex GX40B "studio" bass amp. Not very loud but it is just the sweetest sounding Bass amp I have ever used. (by the way if anyone knows what I might do to find a bigger louder version of this amp I would be in your debt forever)


MadMoose Mon, 03/25/2002 - 05:58

Valverbs are pretty easy to find in the $200-300 range. Keep looking online and you'll find one. I think I paid $225 for mine. Check the guitar stores that keep a used inventory online.

The only cheap thing I have that I love is the Furman HDS-6 headphone system. It has 6 inputs and lets musicians create their own headphone mix.