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Hardware compressors


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27 replies to this topic

#1 worms

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:12 AM

I tried a drawmer lx 20 for a while

the expander part worked like a VCA with AR env (sounded great on an 808) but the compression didnt really work, it sounded more like a volume control.

the prodigy had one so i was expecting more out of it.

i tried the sidechain and stuff and couldnt get the pumping sound out of it at all. maybe i just wasnt using it right. sold it 3 years ago.

 

any compression masters here? which hardware compressors would you rate? i know people rate the alesis 3060 or whatever it's called because daft punk had their pumping sound on it. but i think daft punk are shit so there we are.

 

there was a d&b group called calyx that used liquidmix hardware  compressor,digital software, their music sounds great

 

which are the good compressors to look out for?



#2 xox

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:26 AM

Imo hw compressors are totally overrated. There are some that would be intetesting to own but they're very expensive. Some comps are special and unique sounding... I really like what valley people's dyna-mite does to the signal but softube's emulation is really good enough imo

#3 sheathe

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:05 PM

You can get a good utilitarian dbx for $100, but if you are doing it for sound/color/feel, you won’t get much for under $1k. And tbh the ones you always read in artists interviews, like Manley, are insanely expensive.

#4 nikisoko

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:59 PM

anytime with purchases like these, i feel like the question you have to ask yourself is "is my music at a point where this is whats needed to take it to the next level". The answer is pretty much always going to be no. If you're running a recording studio, then great, get some HW compressors. Otherwise a handful of plugins should cover plenty of ground and you should focus on your chops.



#5 messiaen

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 02:11 PM

I've got the warm audio tonebeast pre amp and 1176 clone. I'm going to pick up the pultrq eq clone aswell because they sound amazing. No vsts I've got can tease out the same sound.

#6 worms

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 02:21 PM

I've got the warm audio tonebeast pre amp and 1176 clone. I'm going to pick up the pultrq eq clone aswell because they sound amazing. No vsts I've got can tease out the same sound.


Can i hear the 1176 in action somewhere?

#7 RSP

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 03:21 PM

You can pick up a DBX 118 or 128 (AFAIK the same thing but the 128 has a noise reduction section added; I've never seen or used a 118 though, so there might be minor differences) cheap, I got mine on eBay for $80 a couple years ago and that was maybe a bit on the low side of average but not any kind of unusual deal), and they're pretty great.  They're a bit noisy and can be hard to dial in on some sources, but put a kick or snare (or a whole drum mix) through it in parallel and you won't care.  It is REALLY good for drums, live, digital or analog. I've heard it's good on bass too, but I sold my bass years ago so I've never tried it.

 

 

I'll try to post a quick before and after clip of some snares and kicks going through it from recent projects when I get home from work.



#8 messiaen

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 05:47 PM

 

I've got the warm audio tonebeast pre amp and 1176 clone. I'm going to pick up the pultrq eq clone aswell because they sound amazing. No vsts I've got can tease out the same sound.


Can i hear the 1176 in action somewhere

i use it on all my tunes. i use it for bass and kick combos mostly, sometimes perc. i only have one of each so the chain is mono. il record some examples tommorow. 



#9 RSP

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 06:24 PM

Quickdemo of the DBX 128 used in parallel on a DR660 kick and snare (separate passes for each).  Nothing fancy, I just bypassed all of the track effects and rendered stems of the raw audio.  The 128 can actually get really snappy (especially on kicks) but in this case since it was in parallel I was deliberately smashing the signal to bring out the low mids and add body to the dry sound.

 

https://www.dropbox....8 test.mp3?dl=1

 

There are a lot of possibilities for modding the 117/118/128 both for improved sound quality and additional features (on the 117 at least, there's a documented modification for greater-than-infinite ratios - aka gain inversion - right in the original manual) and they're all really simple, but other than adding an infinite gain switch (separate mod from gain inversion) to the 117 I've had since the early 2000s I've kept mine stock, I like the dirt they add.

 

 

People who are selling these like to compare them to getting two channels of DBX160 in a box and that's not really accurate, these things have their own entirely unique personalities and the 117 in particular doesn't sound like any other compressor I've ever heard in my life (although the 118/128 are probably more useful over all).



#10 auxien

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:24 PM



which are the good compressors to look out for?


and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better

#11 RSP

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:37 PM

 

which are the good compressors to look out for?


and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better

 

 

 

See my previous post.  Also Alesis Microlimiter.

 

Shitty is pretty.


Edited by RSP, 05 September 2018 - 07:39 PM.


#12 xox

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 04:32 AM

 

which are the good compressors to look out for?


and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better

 

 

 

 

 

relatively cheap:

 

https://reverb.com/i...n-a-1u-rack-box



#13 RSP

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 07:47 AM

If you're comfortable soldering you can sometimes get older Symmetrix (ex Valley People, their 80s stuff at least uses the same proprietary VCAs and similar designs, an used to be really cheap until fairly recently) compressors without power supplies REALLY cheap, because the power supplies were proprietary and rare, and the only aftermarket replacements I see for sale are nearly $100.

 

But the Symetrix web site has a pinout diagram available and it's just straight A/C so all you need is one transformer with the correct secondary voltages or (bulkier and maybe a bit more expensive but easier to source) two transformers, one for each voltage.  Get those, the correct DIN plug, an IEC jack and a box to stick it all in and you're in business.  I've only bought one Symetrix compressor on that plan so far, but it was $16 shipped VS $100-$150 (or more) for the same model with a power supply.  OTOH this was three or four years ago and I was still seeing real Valley People stuff go for under $100 sometimes, so the online market for Symetrix stuff might have changed.


Edited by RSP, 06 September 2018 - 07:51 AM.


#14 kakapo

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 07:52 AM

Klark Teknik, a UK company which made highly regarded live gear which also found its way into studios (afx is a user), were taken over relatively recently by Behringer and they've been producing clones of classic outboard, in particular pultec eq and LA2A and 1176 style compressors (single channel so more useful for tracking etc than stereo buss).  Because of chinese manufacturing (SMT but still using transformers and valves where appropriate) they are incredible value for money.  The pultec and 1176 can be had for £180 in the UK at the moment and I think I saw the LA2A for about £270.  I have the pultec and like it a lot.  Generally considered on a par with the Warm Audio stuff.    



#15 Audioblysk

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 08:15 AM

A friend just gave me two DBX 160 VU’s for my birthday. His work is a stage and concert design and rental company. Guess he found a rack in storage closet and thought ‘I would know what to do with them’

They sound incredible! He also gave me this old 70’s graphic EQ to go with it.

#16 Bubba69

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 12:33 PM

Right now I use an FMR RNC (fairly cheap and sounds good to my ears), and the OTO BOUM, which is more than just a compressor but it sounds delicious. I also use behringer composer pro (cheap) rackmount limiter.

 

I think of compressors as an instrument in themselves so it's less about "is my music ready for that final layer of polish" and more about "this defines my sound quite a bit". If that's the case then get some. It's nice to have a least one limiter style compressor to level out peaks and get things a bit louder, and a second one for character.


Edited by Bubba69, 06 September 2018 - 12:34 PM.


#17 Sam Schofield

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 02:29 PM

 

 

which are the good compressors to look out for?


and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better

 

 

 

 

 

relatively cheap:

 

https://reverb.com/i...n-a-1u-rack-box

 

I think the behringer one (own it) can go to the point where its basically distorting anything. Also you can drive it into this sudo-self oscillation by maxing out the makeup gain. Not really pleasant but I like it nasty. Edit: Its also like 80 quid or less


Edited by Sam Schofield, 06 September 2018 - 02:30 PM.


#18 auxien

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 07:31 AM

which are the good compressors to look out for?

and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better
 
See my previous post.  Also Alesis Microlimiter.
Shitty is pretty.

I think you’re underestimating just how shitty/trashy I’m looking for :) I couldn’t find any good examples of the Micro Limiter but I’ll keep it in mind.

which are the good compressors to look out for?

and also suggestions for shitty hw compressors pls. Not shitty like doesn't do much but shitty like can destroy all sounds in maybe terrible or overly-compressing types of ways. Cheaper/shittier the better
 
relatively cheap:
https://reverb.com/i...n-a-1u-rack-box
I think the behringer one (own it) can go to the point where its basically distorting anything. Also you can drive it into this sudo-self oscillation by maxing out the makeup gain. Not really pleasant but I like it nasty. Edit: Its also like 80 quid or less
Which Behringer are you referring to?

Also xox I like the sounds of that Dynamite from the one video I found but honestly hoping for even a little heavier/dirtier/trashier....and yeah $800 ain’t cheap where I come from so it’s out of consideration anyway.

#19 RSP

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:04 AM

ut you might be underestimating what happens when you do the infinite gain mod to a DBX117 (the simplest mod imaginable, you just short two points on the PCB, and they even left solder pads specifically for people to do the mod - slightly more complicated if you make it switchable, because you have to drill a hole for the switch and solder to wires, but it's still about as challenging as replacing a set of guitar strings; I cleaned the soap scum off of my shower curtain this morning and that was more complicated than modding a DBX117 by far).  There's nothing like it (although the downside is that you have to be careful to manually turn the ratio down any time there's silence, otherwise it will push the noise floor up as loud as it can go).

 

I don't know what they go for these days, not much.  I got mine for $15 ($20 minus employee discount technically) but that was a little over a decade ago.


Edited by RSP, 07 September 2018 - 08:05 AM.


#20 b born droid

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:18 AM

Klark Teknik, a UK company which made highly regarded live gear which also found its way into studios (afx is a user), were taken over relatively recently by Behringer and they've been producing clones of classic outboard, in particular pultec eq and LA2A and 1176 style compressors (single channel so more useful for tracking etc than stereo buss).  Because of chinese manufacturing (SMT but still using transformers and valves where appropriate) they are incredible value for money.  The pultec and 1176 can be had for £180 in the UK at the moment and I think I saw the LA2A for about £270.  I have the pultec and like it a lot.  Generally considered on a par with the Warm Audio stuff.    

We have the DN500 Compressor/Limiter/Expander in the studio at work.  I've tried to use it a bit for a bit of mastering and I have to admit, I simply cannot use a hardware compressor for shit  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:



#21 auxien

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:22 AM

it's still about as challenging as replacing a set of guitar strings; I cleaned the soap scum off of my shower curtain this morning and that was more complicated than modding a DBX117 by far).

No. For you maybe? Not for me. I've changed a hundred guitar strings with like 2 mistakes. I've tried soldering dozens of times to always disastrous results, I've tried 'fixing' gear, I've tried 'working' on gear. I'm an idiot and I wreck it every time. I'm not going to mod anything, ever. I'm just not of that inclination, and from what I gather many people aren't. Nothing wrong with trying and more people should...it's gotta be great for those who are adept or even can just get by with it, but that ain't me, I've been trying since I was literally a child. It's not going to happen.

Edited by auxien, 07 September 2018 - 08:23 AM.


#22 RSP

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:37 AM

Fair enough.

 

For reference, the entire Codemus release at the bottom of my signature was run through the 117 with the infinite ratio mod (although the ratio wasn't quite turned up to full) to give it that kind of weird, shitty, seasick quality where the reverb tails and background noise kind of swell up into the gaps between the actual sounds, so if that "everything is kind is smeared together into a single, squishy mass of sound abut you can still hear the individual parts" thing appeals to you, I haven't encountered anything else that can pull it off (Airwindows Surgetide can get into the same general area but it's pretty tough to dial in).   It reminds me of a 3rd or 4th generation EP mode VHS dub of a tape with the audio recorded too hot.  It was also mastered to an S-VHS VCR, but most of the lo-fi weirdness of the mastering was the DBX.

 

FWIW Dave who produced the Lightning Bolt records had three or four of them and a few 119's sitting around last time I was at his apartment (which was quite a while ago, he was priced out of town a few years back unfortunately) and swears by them, too.

 

 

I've been a big fan for a long time, even though I'm not really doing so much lo-fi stuff these days so it doesn't see as much use.

 

I'm trying to convince you here because I think you'd really like it.


Edited by RSP, 07 September 2018 - 08:50 AM.


#23 RSP

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:48 AM

Oh, I think I've mentioned it before but Crate makes a little 1/3-rack compressor, the FM4CL I think, that you might like, and they're REALLY cheap used.  ACtually a little too clean for my taste but they are still a worthy option for shitty compressors.  I got one a couple years ago, but only because it was being sold together with an off-brand Nanoverb knockoff that's up there with the worst reverbs I've ever heard (makes a real Nanoverb sound like an Eventide, even the reverbs in the old Korg MicroKP sound better - so it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for if you like crappy and obscure effects) - the pair of them were $20 or $25 shipped, and I'd say either one of them would have been worth considering for that price on its own (although it would be a little high IMO). 

 

There's not much info about it but there's some speculation that they kind of Behringered the RNC, but I've never owned an RNC so I couldn't say.  It'll definitely give you absurd amounts (15-20db) of gain reduction without turning into a complete mess, so if you're looking for something that's cheap, stereo, small and will overcompress things without as much audible distortion as something comparable like a Nanocompressor, it's kind of a sleeper.

 

Unfortunately the internal sidechain is screwed up on mine, so it only works right in dual mono - in stereo it just permanently compresses the left channel down into almost complete silence.



#24 worms

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Posted 08 September 2018 - 03:53 AM

Klark Teknik, a UK company which made highly regarded live gear which also found its way into studios (afx is a user), were taken over relatively recently by Behringer and they've been producing clones of classic outboard, in particular pultec eq and LA2A and 1176 style compressors (single channel so more useful for tracking etc than stereo buss). Because of chinese manufacturing (SMT but still using transformers and valves where appropriate) they are incredible value for money. The pultec and 1176 can be had for £180 in the UK at the moment and I think I saw the LA2A for about £270. I have the pultec and like it a lot. Generally considered on a par with the Warm Audio stuff.


Think that's what I'm looking for.
Where do you buy the la2a? Ebay doesn't have it.

#25 kakapo

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 01:17 PM

 

Klark Teknik, a UK company which made highly regarded live gear which also found its way into studios (afx is a user), were taken over relatively recently by Behringer and they've been producing clones of classic outboard, in particular pultec eq and LA2A and 1176 style compressors (single channel so more useful for tracking etc than stereo buss). Because of chinese manufacturing (SMT but still using transformers and valves where appropriate) they are incredible value for money. The pultec and 1176 can be had for £180 in the UK at the moment and I think I saw the LA2A for about £270. I have the pultec and like it a lot. Generally considered on a par with the Warm Audio stuff.


Think that's what I'm looking for.
Where do you buy the la2a? Ebay doesn't have it.

 

 

https://www.gear4mus...om/Klark-Teknik

 

On back order until October.