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emvee
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#1
10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Recommendations for a Compressor?

Can anyone recommend a decent rack compressor for under $200 or close to that?
Gax
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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only 200$ ?!?!
you will be better with ITB/plugins. trust me.
don't waste your money on cheap hardware, that only degrades sound.
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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ART PRO VLA

gauranteed better than any software plugin.
Gax
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RANTARAVE View Post
ART PRO VLA

gauranteed better than any software plugin.
Art products = junk
i despise their stuff
few years ago I have tested Art TubePac mic preamp, gain knob wasn't even working, couldn't get any input from mic and they coudn't service it, they dint even want to give my money back.

OP, dont waste your time and money on useless cheap hardware...

Plugins like Softtube CL1B is simply amazing, its almost like real CL1B.
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10th October 2010
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10th October 2010
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J-Zone uses an ART Levelar.
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gax View Post
Art products = junk
i despise their stuff
few years ago I have tested Art TubePac mic preamp, gain knob wasn't even working, couldn't get any input from mic and they coudn't service it, they dint even want to give my money back.

OP, dont waste your time and money on useless cheap hardware...

Plugins like Softtube CL1B is simply amazing, its almost like real CL1B.
While I agree that for under $200 you are probably better with ITB, you aparently have never actually USED the VLA. It's a pretty bad-ass compressor. There's a reason they sold a ton of them and they routinely get praise. Yeah, ART makes a lot of marginal stuff, but the VLA is DEFINITELY not one of them.
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#8
10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emvee View Post
Can anyone recommend a decent rack compressor for under $200 or close to that?
NOPE!!
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10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RANTARAVE View Post
ART PRO VLA

gauranteed better than any software plugin.
Especially the JJ Audio mod.
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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dbx 163x or 160a if you can find one cheap. The mods to the 163x clean it up (you can DIY it yourself as well) and even stock it kicks ass on vocals. We use a modded one daily at Studio E, does high levels of gain reduction and still sounds smooth and full. Works on everything from RnB vocals, rap vocals, to kick drums and basslines. I truly love mine.

I recall the 166 (no X) was supposed to be good as well.

I also recommend the Yamaha GC2020. Highly poo pooed, maligned and shot down in the live sound world, its actually a well put together product.

One day when I was feeling like gettin my geek on, I opened mine up and found that it had Rubycon capacitors all over the place. These are the capacitors that people tend to UPGRADE TO. So I was kind of shocked to see the Yamaha "cheapo," compressor have them on the PCB, but internet griping can't fight real life experience.

If you wanted to mod it, I suppose you can change out the vcas and opamps to see if that improves the character or the sound but to be honest its a good unit to have, it works for vocals and drums. Its actually pretty quiet considering the pedigree it inherited here on Gearslutz.

I actually will use mine TMW on a high profile mix and see how it fares.

The GC2020 can be found for as cheap as $20. Sleeper for sure.

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10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
While I agree that for under $200 you are probably better with ITB, you aparently have never actually USED the VLA. It's a pretty bad-ass compressor. There's a reason they sold a ton of them and they routinely get praise. Yeah, ART makes a lot of marginal stuff, but the VLA is DEFINITELY not one of them.
The VLA is indeed a worthy compressor in its stock form Chris. I used one for years but as my SECOND compressor on vocals. I would have the dbx 163x running first in the chain and then the VLA. The VLA is just way too slow for vocals as a first compressor, due to the stock 150ms release time. The attack of the VLA is cool and all but I use to struggle with the unit overall when I tried using it on mixbuss duties (what I originally bought it for GASP!!) and finally said screw it. I only used it for vocal treatments as a second stage compressor and then on drums.

I will say this though, if you have a really bright recording path, like a really clean preamp with a bright mic like the NT1 or maybe a stock Apex 460, then the VLA in its stock form will help roll off some of the high end that can be considered as cheap or annoying in a mix on a vocal. This is what I saw as its shining point. However, once I started using WAY BETTER microphones, I wanted the top end back (as well as the low end lol) that the VLA would absorb in the optocoupler, because the top end was the good really nice top end you get out of your U87s, U67s and 251s. Hence my personal quest to solve the VLA (which I think we did in spades).


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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
I also recommend the Yamaha GC2020. Highly poo pooed, maligned and shot down in the live sound world, its actually a well put together product.


The GC2020 can be found for as cheap as $20. Sleeper for sure.

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Illumination

Man, I turned that thing on and turned it right back off. If you can get a good sound out of it - I'd like to hear it. 20$ sounds about right to me.
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#13
10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
dbx 163x or 160a if you can find one cheap. The mods to the 163x clean it up (you can DIY it yourself as well) and even stock it kicks ass on vocals.
hey!
would you mind sharing what mod this is? thanks a lot!!
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10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
Man, I turned that thing on and turned it right back off. If you can get a good sound out of it - I'd like to hear it. 20$ sounds about right to me.
You're on!

Story, you think I'd still keep that thing if it sounded like shit? Wait maybe that's why I kept it LOL. JK, it works on vocals and drums, but the source gain staging has to be pretty solid, that way you rely less on the input and output amplifiers on the GC2020, which are really the noisiest stages. If you can keep that at "UNITY," (Rick James?) then you can get some pretty good results. HOWEVER and HOWEVER, the 163x right now is the reigning champ on vocals during tracking (for the sessions I've been on) so the 2020 does have some stiff competition. If all else fails I'm firing up the soldering iron!

PS the Altec 1612b is over with John (of ES fame) and is getting modded for low noise output staging and possibly even crazier attack and release curves (Distressor anyone?).

PS They said the same thing about the Gates Solid States Man LOL Its a piece of crap, its not usable. Hence the ridiculously low resale pricing on the web. $100 to $180??? YEESH.

There's also a chance we may be getting an LA4 sometime soon.

Oh if you buy a helicopter, name it the Dillacopter. Not after Dilla but after the roasted armadillos with mashed pertaters.

Peace
Illumination
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10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by check_your_head View Post
hey!
would you mind sharing what mod this is? thanks a lot!!
There's a forum called tape op that details this in full.

But it involves removing a bunch of ceramic capacitors and upgrading the PSU filter caps. I didn't do any opamp upgrades. I actually did a mod to one on the tracking room floor at Studio E. 15 minutes and done.

Warning, the mod also opens the sound of the unit up so if you use mics that have crazy high end (like the kind you HATE) then this is only going to make them sound worse. BUT if you're in a good place with mics and pres etc, then you're good to go!

I don't want to post offsite links in this thread but you can hit me on a pm and I can share a link or two.

Peace
Illumination
#16
10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
You're on!

Story, you think I'd still keep that thing if it sounded like shit? Wait maybe that's why I kept it LOL. JK, it works on vocals and drums, but the source gain staging has to be pretty solid, that way you rely less on the input and output amplifiers on the GC2020, which are really the noisiest stages. If you can keep that at "UNITY," (Rick James?) then you can get some pretty good results. HOWEVER and HOWEVER, the 163x right now is the reigning champ on vocals during tracking (for the sessions I've been on) so the 2020 does have some stiff competition. If all else fails I'm firing up the soldering iron!

PS the Altec 1612b is over with John (of ES fame) and is getting modded for low noise output staging and possibly even crazier attack and release curves (Distressor anyone?).

PS They said the same thing about the Gates Solid States Man LOL Its a piece of crap, its not usable. Hence the ridiculously low resale pricing on the web. $100 to $180??? YEESH.

There's also a chance we may be getting an LA4 sometime soon.

Oh if you buy a helicopter, name it the Dillacopter. Not after Dilla but after the roasted armadillos with mashed pertaters.

Peace
Illumination
Hey - not saying the 2020 blows - just saying that I don't know how to make it sound good. So I'm looking forward to hearing what you do with it. It seemed to immediately "dull" the sound of what passed through it. And that made me sad inside.

I doubt I'll be buying a helicopter. Apparently, they're expensive. Go figure.

I'm excited to check out the new compressors when I get back.
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10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
Hey - not saying the 2020 blows - just saying that I don't know how to make it sound good. So I'm looking forward to hearing what you do with it. It seemed to immediately "dull" the sound of what passed through it. And that made me sad inside.

I doubt I'll be buying a helicopter. Apparently, they're expensive. Go figure.

I'm excited to check out the new compressors when I get back.
Awwww don't be sad. LMAO, that's classic!

I mean to be honest, alot of compressors are guilty of this if you think about it. They may not be heavy handed like the GC2020 is however, I wouldn't call a real LA2A or an 1176 transparent. Not busting chops here just saying we definitely accept what other compressors alter in exchange for their action.

One thing the 2020 does is fast release compression rather well, the attack curves are definitely good for general purpose use (think of it like an SM57 of compressors) and it happens to use no CPU har har. Its LIGHTYEARS better than an Alesis 3630 btw. To be honest I've never tried super smash annihilate with the 2020 though. Might be worth investigating.

Uses btw: Vocals, drum buss, bass, electric guitar, kick and snare.

I may actually investigate changing the VCA out and switch over to something like the Dynamite or the THAT 2180 if its compatible.

If it works I would call it: The Chinamite!

Peace
Illumination
#18
10th October 2010
Old 10th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
awwww don't be sad. Lmao, that's classic!

I mean to be honest, alot of compressors are guilty of this if you think about it. They may not be heavy handed like the gc2020 is however, i wouldn't call a real la2a or an 1176 transparent. Not busting chops here just saying we definitely accept what other compressors alter in exchange for their action.

One thing the 2020 does is fast release compression rather well, the attack curves are definitely good for general purpose use (think of it like an sm57 of compressors) and it happens to use no cpu har har. Its lightyears better than an alesis 3630 btw. To be honest i've never tried super smash annihilate with the 2020 though. Might be worth investigating.

Uses btw: Vocals, drum buss, bass, electric guitar, kick and snare.

I may actually investigate changing the vca out and switch over to something like the dynamite or the that 2180 if its compatible.

If it works i would call it: The chinamite!

peace
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10th October 2010
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#20
10th October 2010
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#21
11th October 2010
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I like the DBX166 and the VLA for that price range...I have them both and they're both decent. Both pres add some nice Analog tone and weight to your recordings. My fav low end comp is the Overstayer!Its like an 1176 with a little less bite.Its hard to make something sound bad through the OS....
#22
11th October 2010
Old 11th October 2010
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Here is what i recommend:

WAVES API 2500 compressor

imo its one of there best compressors and its very transparent and natural sounding compressor.
#23
11th October 2010
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used DBX

used DBX 160, I see em on craigslist all the time from $150-250 each...I always buy them and resell them on ebay for bucks...They sound awesome but each unit is mono so you need two of them for stereo and takes up 1u each.



ashly makes good stuff
apex too.
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#24
13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
While I agree that for under $200 you are probably better with ITB, you aparently have never actually USED the VLA. It's a pretty bad-ass compressor. There's a reason they sold a ton of them and they routinely get praise. Yeah, ART makes a lot of marginal stuff, but the VLA is DEFINITELY not one of them.
Absolutely!

Mine sits between my Vari-Mu and dbx160S:

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#25
13th October 2010
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I actually took the leap and bought a used Vla II. I can't wait to test it out! Next thing on my list, the Tubetech PE-1C! By the way, I'll be using a pre, then the Deresser (High Pass filter) then the VLA, so I don't make the compressor work too hard. I doubt that it'll darken the sound that way. I'll put 1 side with a Nos Mullard and the other with a Nos Telefunken tube.
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13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
I actually took the leap and bought a used Vla II. I can't wait to test it out! Next thing on my list, the Tubetech PE-1C! By the way, I'll be using a pre, then the Deresser (High Pass filter) then the VLA, so I don't make the compressor work too hard. I doubt that it'll darken the sound that way. I'll put 1 side with a Nos Mullard and the other with a Nos Telefunken tube.
regarding the de-esser in the chain... I can't speak for the II as I only have the second itteration of the original - things may have changed since then. But, I've found that the optical sensor reacts slightly stronger to high frequency content providing a slightly natural de-essing character when pushed. I actually PREFER pushing high end into it and making it work harder. So you might consider putting the de-esser after the compressor rather than before.
#27
13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
regarding the de-esser in the chain... I can't speak for the II as I only have the second itteration of the original - things may have changed since then. But, I've found that the optical sensor reacts slightly stronger to high frequency content providing a slightly natural de-essing character when pushed. I actually PREFER pushing high end into it and making it work harder. So you might consider putting the de-esser after the compressor rather than before.
Hey, but I don't use the De-Esser on the Derresser, only the High Pass Filter function. I'll engage the 28k on the ma5, then high Pass the sound a bit with the Derresser, then I'd put the PE-1C after to reboost the highs. I should be getting the VLA II next monday.

Is it sensitive to the tube you use?
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13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Hey, but I don't use the De-Esser on the Derresser, only the High Pass Filter function. I'll engage the 28k on the ma5, then high Pass the sound a bit with the Derresser, then I'd put the PE-1C after to reboost the highs. I should be getting the VLA II next monday.

Is it sensitive to the tube you use?
I did a swap once with a friend for kicks. Don't remember what we put in it, but I recall it making zero difference. With a few exceptions, I think a lot of this "tube swap" stuff is seriously overblown.
#29
13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I did a swap once with a friend for kicks. Don't remember what we put in it, but I recall it making zero difference. With a few exceptions, I think a lot of this "tube swap" stuff is seriously overblown.
I do hear a difference in my K2, if I put the siemens or the Amperex tube, there's a difference. Maybe it's just in my head!
#30
1st July 2011
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Here's to bringing a dead thread back to life.

I'm going to send my GC2020 to Jim and have him upgrade the opamps and possibly the VCAs to make it a superclean supernice compressor for 2 buss. Considering that its a 29 dollar compressor. It can't hurt to pour a couple hundred bucks into it if it will slay on the 2 buss.


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Illumination
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