Compressors! To compress or not to compress...

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by Guzzy, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. Guzzy

    Guzzy Guest

    I am going to be looking into adding a compressor to my home recording rig upon advice recieved from this forum and other reading.

    Remembering I am on a budjet and a newbie, so be gentle;

    1. What features should I be looking for?

    2. suggested brands/models??

    Guzzy :-?
  2. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    why do you want a compressor ?

    is it to solve a specific problem you have now ?
    is it to create a sound that you think you want ?

    not trying to be difficult but a little help to dsee the direction you are heading will help to advise

    obviously there is the RNC which is a cool cheap stereo compressor which can do a fine job on mono sources
    not to say it is the best choice for a lead vocal with characture
  3. Guzzy

    Guzzy Guest

    Thanks for your reply Kev.

    I am recording on a Tascam DP01 FX/CD and mixing into a Soundcraft Spirit folio 12/2 mixer.

    A was hoping to increase my flexibility in my mix/mastering. More punch to bass, level assistance, peaking reduction etc.... The tascam has only two inputs so I am limited.

    If not on track could you recommend another path???? Maybe an Effects processor? (the effects on the Tascam leave a lot to e desired...

  4. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    peaking reduction as you call it... might want to think about a comp that can do proper limiting
    the only thing i'd track thru a comp with your set up are vocals and maybe bass this for errmm 'auto level adjustment'
    but i'm not sure you really need one
  5. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Get a dbx 166, whatever the latest edition is (I think it's "XL"). Of all the "budget" compressors I've used over the years it's my favorite; solidly built, low noise, decent sound. At least they were 20 years ago when I bought mine - I still use it. So if you want a compressor that would be the way to go.

    If you need better mixes don't rely on technology or mastering to fix your mix; do a better mix. It's a lot easier now than it used to be. I can remember being one of three or four guys at a 48 channel console frantically turning knobs and sliding faders while the 24 track 2" tape spun at 30ips and the patch bay looked like black spaghetti hell. Every light in the rack was blinking, every meter was bouncing. You worked just as hard learning to perform the mix as you did learning to play the song; riding faders, adjusting panning and EQ as the sounds on the tracks changed.

    A compressor/limiter will definately smooth out the bass at mix time. If you have a limit on sends and returns you could even consider compressing tracks and bouncing them back. Ah! the miracles of technology; no tape hiss build up on the bounce!

    Worry about doing great mixes for now, mastering is another art form all by itself. And just a reminder - in order for the mix to sound great you need great sounding source material to begin with. Well recorded source material is easier to mix, allowing you to be CREATIVE, not CORRECTIVE at mix time.

    Good luck!
  6. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    2 track (stereo) bus and mastering compressors are perhaps the hardest to make ... well

    It is likely that one unit can NOT be right for every job and that's why mastering suites have many to choose from

    you have the tascam and the spirit 12/2 which may put you in a -10dBV world and the bulk of the top units will be +4dBu

    the 166 is a cool unit and I have used it for a bus comp
    it is +4dBu only ... I think

    the RNC is a very easy to use unit and is -10dBV ready

    the DIY SSL/VCA comp you may have heard about is also cool on a mix bus but does have a specific character ... and is +4dBu

    The is where the computer recorder have it all over the hardware units
    L1, L2, MasterX, Maxim ... and many more multiband comps can do so much in just one pass

    it is very difficult to advise any stereo comp for the budget and configuration you already have
    except the RNC

    AS Bob already said
    practice mixing and worry about mastering later

    what unit do you mix the 8chs down to ?

    additional thoughts
    ARX afterburner
    Aphex Big bottom or dominator

    even so I can't recomend them for you in your situation .... :roll:

    some of the pros use things like
    Manley VariMu
    TC DB-Max
    the Level Magic™ gear from Junger
    L1 and L2 in hardware form

    Fairchild ... (hock the house)

    shut up Kev
  7. Guzzy

    Guzzy Guest

    Thanks for the replies everyone, very much appreciated. :cool:

    I am putting a lot of time in on my mixes. Theory being if you cant get it sorted at the foundations your screwed. Im working on improving; starting with my instrument (source) then moving out i.e. instrument then room then mics and placement then mix etc etc...........

    I mix my original source through the spirit 12/2 then into the Tascam then I master the final product down onto a master track on the Tascam itself (feature of the tascam)

    I'm not hearing any thing on the Berringer lines of products. I am assuming that there is a very good reason for that :wink: ???

  8. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    The two biggest determining factors in mixing is a balanced room and your speakers. If either of these is a problem, and your room probably has a lot of problems, it's going to be a tough deal putting out good mixes. I still need to get my room balanced properly, but I just don't seem to have the $5k right now. :wink:
  9. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    ART ProVLA is another workable cheapie (in the color vein)
  10. Nemo20000

    Nemo20000 Guest

    as i understand i am a bit ahead of you and i've gone thru the same steps, i dare to give you my feedback. To make it as simple as possible:
    1- first of all, compressors are a "hot stuff" in the sense that depending on how far you wanna go in recording you will or you will not do without them. Beginners can make appreciable mix even without using compressors if they apply the basics of recording and EQ and mixing in the right way. As things become more serious, compressors can dramaticaly change the sound of your mix. Therefore first rule of thumb: what do I need from my mix?

    2- compressors have performances widely different passing from entry level to more expensive models. For a mid-budget project studio I would recommend to look at good used stuff (eBay is plenty of it) for a target price around 3-400 Eur. There you can find something really interesting to begin with (i'd say Dbx, TL Audio, Focusrite, Mindprint etc.). Second rule of thumb: if my budget can't reach a minimum threshold, i would not waste my money;

    3- Broadly speaking, there are two families: tube compressors and solidstate compressors, they sound quite different and they need to be used for different needs. Third r.o.t.what needs to be compressed more frequently in my mix? voices and ac.instruments rather than drum sets?

    4- thinking about going digital: if your future is HD recording by using a pc-based setup, you will find well-sounding plugins (my favourite is Waves C4) you can easily survive with. It's a matter of "phylosophy". Going ahead, you will test outboards vs. plugins and you'll realize what fits better.

    All this said, many more experienced members will advise you better than I can do. This is only my personal experience, nothing more.
  11. riffster

    riffster Guest

    I recently picked this unit up for 269.99 and I must say that I am quite pleased with it. I did some light tracking of a tenor female through a Rode K2 and it really did some suprisingly nice things to the track. Thumbs up for here for that unit.

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