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greetings all. haven't been here in a while due to a massive string of video/photo/graphic work taking all my time!
but this has made me the $ to finally buy an API 3124+!
my questions:
what compressor(s) would you pair with the API for tracking? the considerations are:
1) $1000 or under (no choice!)
2) at least 2 channels
3) small (1RU or less) because i will have to haul it from Canada to Mali with lots of other GEAR...

another question:
should i bother following an API with a 'cheaper' compressor? i would like to have a bit of a safety measure and dynamic control when tracking, and would only use light compression, but will i compromise the signal?
i was looking at the 4 channel dbx, but if there is a better 2 channel in the same $ range, i would go for that i think...

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Groff Wed, 05/26/2010 - 22:46

BDM, post: 348773 wrote: i would like to have a bit of a safety measure and dynamic control when tracking, and would only use light compression, but will i compromise the signal?

In most cases there is no much point to compress and control before AD in 24 bit system. A safety gain level (-12/-6 peak) should be just enough. The other thing is if you are looking for "the sound of compressor". Unfortunately that's not cheap and doesn't come with the budget gear.

If you insist, a FMR line is very good choice (from clean to colored), and also retubed ART Pro VLA II.

BobRogers Thu, 05/27/2010 - 07:19

I have a pair of FMR RNCs that I use for live sound, and they are in the rack for recording. I usually don't track with them since they don't actually sound better than my plugins (though they don't sound any worse either). I wouldn't hesitate to use them on a crazy drummer that I knew was going to need compression anyway. You would need to buy two units since they are coupled stereo and I would also suggest one of the rack units to make them easier to deal with. That would still be well within your budget. I like the FMRs better than, say, the dBx units in the same price range. In general though, I'm with hueseph and Groff. You need to invest a lot of money to beat the plugins. If you are just using compressors for recording I'd use plugins until you can move up a price point or two.

Link555 Thu, 05/27/2010 - 08:35

Compression is very subjective. At that price point your are more or less limited to VCA based products like the DBX line. Most use THAT IC's (THAT used to be DBX, before the employees bought the plant or something like that). Nothing wrong with these chips, but it is a sound very different than the photo resistive type attenuation. As for the ART stuff, sorry but not worth the money IMHO. Personally for $1000 I would rather have a THAT chip then a poorly designed Heater.... oh was that my outside voice. The FMR stuff is cool, but watch the low frequencies with it, there is very little headroom in those boxes.

moonbaby Thu, 05/27/2010 - 08:57

I own several dbx comps, a Drawmer, and 2 RNC's...The problem that you are going to run into is that the output level of the API 3124 can swing a +30 dBm signal (!) . This is GREAT headroom, which makes it such a great preamp, especially for transient instruments (like drums). The RNC's (as previously mentioned) will definitely not handle that kind of signal. My Drawmer (DL241) will almost handle that, and the dbx's depend on the model. My 160a's will take that kind of bullet, and that would be my recommendation. AT $450 USD per channel, a pair of them would be within your budget and technical parameters. They are deceptively simple to operate, they have great metering, and can handle all sorts of program material you can throw at them with few artifacts...

BDM Fri, 05/28/2010 - 00:17

thanks much for your great replies.
hmmmmm. I guess i was looking for a *magic* compressor that is both cheap and great. even though i've sworn off of 'cheap' gear, i seem to have to keep being reminded!
i think maybe that grand is much better spent on a KM184 or a Royer 121...
umm... any input on which? (for electric, acoustic, percussion, vocals).
i guess i really can't go too wrong. i mostly use TLM 49 (vocals), sm57's (electric), sE A1's (acoustic, percussion) through LA-610.
out of curiosity, What would you do? which 'holes' in my sound would be better filled with the API and one of those mics?

audiokid Fri, 05/28/2010 - 13:26

I haven't had the opportunity but will use the Transpressor in time. I have a Transient Designer (very cool) and this sounds like it has this as a part of the Transpressor design. You may want to take a look at this:
SPL is know for high quality gear (more in Europe for some reason). However, because they lean towards mastering, I tend to follow outboard gear made by companies that make quality mastering and recording gear more than others.
They are also makers of hybrid DAW tools so its why I'm suggesting looking into this unit if you are considering a hardware compressor now or in the future. If you are interested hardware, the hybrid crowd is where you are heading (partial or advanced). Keep an open ear in this direction.

RemyRAD Mon, 06/28/2010 - 12:00

If you have an API 312/512/3124, my favorite combination with those is the Universal Audio UREI 1176 in just about any flavor. Although I do favor the original blackface units since there are subtle differences to the design of their newer units. Both are fine. That's my favorite signal chain.

API Neve & UREI's
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Thu, 07/01/2010 - 14:05

I've always liked everything API but I've never liked their 525 compressor? I thought it was about as useful as a Spectra Sonics Comp/Limiter 610, which I also never found useful. Again this is all subjective as I know how many folks love the 525. Maybe I just never figured out the magic setting?

No 525
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Wed, 08/04/2010 - 19:29

Don't feel bad - The 525 compressor is hard to figure out even though its so simple -

And it has a specific kind of CLAMP and VICE that is very useful should you choose to employ it.

Its just hard to understand at first and presents kind of an esoteric operation for S.A.K compression - which it is certainly not.

I like the weight and tone they add to the sound and I generally find simple and effective compression to be awesome on acoustic GTR. They do something really great there for me.

Bus squash and drums are also fun, certainly bass and electrics, but they are hard to figure on vocals of dynamic complexity sometimes. Its API's answer to the 1176, maybe?

AudioGaff Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:38

Love the 525 comperessor. Loved it enough to buy a second one. They can be tricky to set up just right and many times it is simply not the right tool for the job. But I find it has real magic when used with a decent mic and works well with the 212, 312 or 512 mic pre. Usually not my choice for percusive sources, but I use it everywhere else, vocals mostly, often for bass. Like all my compressors, they do more than just deal with dynamic range. I also use them as eq and tone shapers with them doing little to no gain reduction.

BDM Thu, 11/11/2010 - 03:54

oh boy. so i ran out of $ (Canon 5Dmii purchase lead to need for L gla$$ etc etc.). had to go with the A2D with the Royer.
the math would be: minus two channels from the 3124, plus 2 channels because of s/pdif connection, plus a converter and clock= HAPPY.
not missing a compressor at all!
with a new Fulltone OCD (wow. great pedal!) to a Mesa Boogie through the Royer and A2D, i am on the road to a great guitar sound!!!!!
the only thing that can mess it up is.... ME!