Your Pick for Primo Vocal Compressor

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by MigrantRecords, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Of the compressors available today, what would you recommend, with the assumption that it would be used mostly for vocals? I've been narrowing things down a bit, and here's what looks good:

    UA 1176N
    UREI LA2, LA3 or LA4
    Empirical Labs Distressor
    dbx 160S or 160SL
    Manley EL OP (or, really, and of their comps)
    Purple Audio MC77
    Drawmer 1968

    I know all of these are good in one way or another, and that they all have their nay-sayers or proponents, but keeping in mind that the *primary* application would be _vocals_...

    ...which of them is best? Is there a great one I don't have on that list you'd recommend? Is it better to hold out for a stereo compressor rather than a single channel? Is there a best all around?

    I am open to all suggestions and opinions...granting, of course, that they're regarding compressors, not "go jump off a bridge", et al.

  2. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    Easy, LA-2A 90% of the time, the 1176 the other 10%

    Even both in some combos works great.

    EDIT: Maybe I should elaborate on that before I get reamed. I frequently run vocals through the LA-2A to tape. I set it so that the needle is just barely moving, that way it just catches the very tips of the peaks, kinda smoothing things out. Then, if I want to make a vocal fuller, I'll duplicate the track, then run it through the 1176 with a good amount of squishing going on, and bring that up underneath the original vocal.
  3. Thanks for the prompt response, McCheese! After delving pretty deeply into these forums, I can honestly say I'm a true fan...both of the site and of Mayor McCheese...and of cheese in general...and...anyway...

    Yeah, Kurt and many others have extolled the virtues of the LA-2A, and I would love to find a couple. Until then, I see that there's an option to find some LA-4s for relatively cheap on eBay and then add a relatively cheap mod to get a relatively great-sound compressor...would you recommend this for vocals? Kurt has mentioned that he likes them on just guitars...

    Anyway, I want to hear from others, and more from McCheese, of course. I appreciate all input.

  4. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    The LA-4 is a good compressor, as is the LA-3, but neither are the LA-2A when it comes to sound.
  5. Ha! When it comes to sound?

    But for *paperweights*, they're TOPS!

    I'm not sure how to take that, Senior Cheese! :lol:
  6. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    I'm just saying that they're good, but even though they were designed as FET replacements for the LA-2A, they just don't cut it. Don't expect the LA-2A 'magic' from them.
  7. Fair enough! I'll keep lookin' for LA-2As!!

    Thanks again...I want to hear what others think as well...!!
  8. Johnson Cabasa

    Johnson Cabasa Active Member

    Sep 5, 2003
    the la2a reissue isn't what the origianl la2a was especially the la2as that were made in sonnyvale ca with the gray painted face plate.

    the best vocal comprewssor i've heard in a long time is the thermionic culture phoenix comrepssor. it has this thing that id does to the top end of a vocal sound that is fabulous
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I gotta agree on these 'standards' could you go this level its all about taste and the hours spent learning these thingys. Its not rocket surgery but its close.. I like the DBX 160S series a lot. Again its simply a matter of choice at a certain level.
  10. Hm. The 160s, huh? ONLY the 160s? I'm having trouble finding those, but I don't mind looking further...! :)

    Do they require any mods, as they're older, etc?

    Thanks for the ideas! 8)
  11. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    This is on my "Lust List"
  12. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    The DBX 160SL

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