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Matthew Murray
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#1
23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Building a Compressor Arsenal from Scratch!

Hey all. The time has come for me to stop braining around and just buy my bloody compressors. It's the last chunk of gear I need to buy before my racks are fully rounded out. I've narrowed it down to several choices. I know that my budget for compressor/limiters is between $7000 and $9000. Obviously the cheaper the better. I need to cover all bases -- tracking compressors for vox, guitars, bass n' drums, and then something for the 2bus to give it some glue.

Genres recoreded are rock, alt, britpop, anti/alt-folk. Pretty exclusively male vocals. Going for that good old 60's vibe, lots of character, colour and (ergh) "warmth" ... but still want sparkle and air.

I've narrowed it down to four possible packages:

Package One
LA2A (mostly for lead vox and bass)
• 2 Distressors w/ brit mods (drums, guitars, etc)
• Drawmer 1968 (Mix bus and various other stereo tracking duties where it fits)

Package Two
• 2 Crane Song Trakkers (Everything, plus mix bus in linked mode)
• 2 Distressors w/ brit mods (drums, guitars, etc.)

Package Three
• 1 Crane Song Trakker (Everything)
• 2 Distressors w/ brit mods (drums, guitars, etc.)
Chandler TG1 (Mix bus, drum bus, vox, guitars, other character apps)

Package Four
• 1 Pendulum Quartet (includes OCL-2 compressor in mono)
• 2 Distressors w/ brit mods (drums, guitars, etc.)
Chandler TG1 (Mix bus, drum bus, vox, guitars, other character apps)

Part of me really wants that TG1 from what I've read... I get this weird feeling it would do me good. I've read every god-damn compression thread on GS today, and I'm still not certain what direction I'd like to go. I won't know for certain till I hear my final choice, but I thought I'd make one last appeal here to you sluts to see if I could come up with a more confident choice, or even a new, exciting set of options.

Which package would you choose, and why? Or is there another group of tools you think would suit me better? I know there's a billion threads like this, but hey, none of them were mine.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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I like package one the best. Great versatility with the EL8 & 1968 and the La2a rounds it off perfectly. I have all the ones your dbateing exept the trakker and pendulum FYI...so a grain of salt is needed.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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For what you described, I'd go with either package one or three.

The LA2A in package 1 makes that one pretty well rounded IMO.

Edit: BTW, kats posted as I was typing up my response. The rounded comment isnt a copy.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Matthew Murray
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Hey all, thanks for your replies so far.

Shaggs- package 5 looks enticing indeed. Okay, everybody consider that one too -- God, I think that's my frontrunner now. Only catch is there's no stereo compression except the TG1, so can the TG1 be versatile enough to cover all stereo compression needs, beyond the 2bus?

But damn, that's nice.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Murray View Post
can the TG1 be versatile enough to cover all stereo compression needs, beyond the 2bus?
with fine settings, I don't consider it like a one trick pony.
especially if you record mostly Indie/Rock/Folk bands.

I have 2 distressors at home, and I noticed that I almost never used them in stereo.

Maybe I'm a weirdo, go figure

cheers


Seb
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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But if it's really an issue I'm sure that if you do a good search you can find a second hand CL1B and 2 second hand distressors (maybe without british mode but remember, you have the Purple ) and it'll still fit your bill

best of luck with your search

cheers


Seb
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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How about:

2x Distressors

LA2A

2x Summit TLA 50s (only 600 some a piece)

And either an API 2500, Neve Comp, or the Drawmer 1968.
#9
23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Hey Matthew, I vote for package Five. How about a subtle variation though:

- Tube Tech CL1B
- Langevin ELOP
- Distressor w/ Brit Mod
- Chandler TG1



The ELOP gives you another good vocal compressor as well as another comp for stereo duties (except for the Mix buss). The only one of these I haven't used is the TG1 but, like you, I have a feeling it's pretty cool.

Craig.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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gear pimp hat off,

Unless you are buying a lot ie another studio closure etc. any reputable dealer would not penalize you if 4 high end comps weren't bought at the same time but rather over a short term. Your comp's will be the personality of the studio and greatly affect your workflow and you need to assess the pros and cons of each piece......is it unique? will clients choose to work here? ease of use? sound? swiss army knife or one knob wonder? etc. 4 different units that are each attempting to go to the same place with different degrees of success (depending on application) may not be the best option.

My $0.02 would be at a certain point, discard all the threads, pick a direction and then acquire the chosen units one at a time. This will allow you to carefully listen and assess whether the choices will in fact be complementary and if there is a bad fit, allow you the chance to exchange or flip the offending unit and/or adjust the subsequent purchasing strategy.

Andy
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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I think the way to approach this is to look at TYPEs of compressors. Any good arsenal should contain an optical compressor, an FET compressor and a VCA compressor. Each is a different way of doing the same job and will yeild different musical results.

That said, the classic way to fill out that menu, IMHO, is an LA2A, an 1176 and an SSL/Smart.
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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compressor's, gearslutz just can't get enough, mostly do to the lack of money.
no mention of Daking?
i have been looking at them but i do not see much on them.
would they not be a contender as well?
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#13
23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Yeah, I've got to second considering Daking comps in the picture....
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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I think Andy has the best advise. Better still rent one or two at a time and try them out. I can't count the number of times I've bought a piece of gear because of a review etc. only to find it didn't suit me. Its GSism with precaution.

But I still wish I had your $ to spend! Enjoy

jim
Matthew Murray
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Hey Andy et Al,

That *is* good advice, and I am doing something similar. I'm purchasing the distressor ASAP and it should be here shortly. I know I'm getting one, it's the one I'm most certain about.

However, regardless of whether or I buy them together or separate, I still need a plan of action. Renting them is not an option as I've already looked into it, as is demoing -- it's all a pain in the ass and would cost me more than I'd like to spend in disposed income. I'd rather come out with a combination that has the best possible chance of pleasing me the first time around, as shipping things out, selling them used, and purchasing items to "demo" them all have their associated costs, all of which I would like to try to avoid.

Beyond that, this is supposed to be *fun*... if I'm going to drop 8 or 9 grand, the least I can do is have a sense of "play" about it ... it's fun to see everybody's opinions, perspectives, and different tastes.

So, I appreciate the advice, but I'd still love to hear further package suggestions if that's cool with everybody. Based on the advice here so far, I'm leaning towards a modified package, perhaps something like this:

LA2A
• Portico 5043
TG1
Distressor

I just couldn't help but be rubbed somewhat by that Greg Wells 5043 thread.
Matthew Murray
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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Oh, and I'd be interested in dakings ... but I know nothing about them... ie. "what type are they?"
#17
23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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23rd September 2006
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23rd September 2006
Old 23rd September 2006
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lol - typical sleazebay - gotta love it ( i DO love ebay, actually).

i was merely posting for the FYI - didn't do a price search.

sorry about that. i don't know daking, personally.

however, they ARE a uk seller, not that that's any excuse

as i said, there are some daking freaks here -
maybe they'll show their faces

as of now, we know there are 2 daking FET compressors.

sorry for the slight ot, m.
#20
23rd September 2006
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Man, I hate to 'Pull a Fletcher' on y'all, but:

You should really rent/order-and-return your options and BOND with them for a while.

Man, that's a lot of money to spend on all of our opinions.
#21
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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May I ask as to why Distressors are options on all your 'packages"?

Is it because of what you've heard about them or have you tried them and decided that they were a must?

Personally (but what do I know)
Quote:
an LA2A, an 1176 and a SSL/Smart.
would be better, + a couple cheaper workhorses like dbx 160xt's and RNC's to round things out.

I can't imagine a compressor arsenal without at least one 1176 fwiw (Purple MC77 gets my vote).
#22
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejook View Post
Man, I hate to 'Pull a Fletcher' on y'all, but:

You should really rent/order-and-return your options and BOND with them for a while.

Man, that's a lot of money to spend on all of our opinions.
Agreed.

I was about to say:

Two 1176 or two Purples (I say two because you're gonna want them on the drum bus)

one LA2A

one Smart

When I noticed that Surfkat said almost the same thing.

Great minds, right?

I'm not a huge Distressor fan, but that didn't stop it from outselling probably everything else in it's class.

I think that better than renting, do what research you can, and go with what your head tells you. You'll need more than rental time to really get 'down and dirty' with each unit. If you buy them "right" you can change a piece here and there if need be. But rental can tell you if you're in the ballpark.
#23
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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Now we don't sell any of these (but I've used them all on more than one occasion).

If I was doing what you are doing here's what my list would consist of:

(3) 1176 (or purple mc77) (for bass and the drum bus)
La2a (for vox)
distressor w/brit mod (for snare)
(2) Tube Tech cl1b's (great for stereo comp'ing of clean rhythm guitars)
Focusrite Red3 (also for the mix buss, but just a touch)
SSL X-Logic G series stereo comp (for the mix buss)
(2) DBX 160 VU (a stereo pair for piano, acoustics, etc.)
(2) Daking FET comps (for kick and anything extra or if you need a different flavor)

That would give you one heck of an arsenal and would cover most every mix (if you're into the alt rock/pop genre).

Hope that helps!
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Matthew Murray
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24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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Wow, lots of very interesting perspectives in here, thanks guys!

With regards to the "pulling a fletcher" on me ... I've heard this advice many times before and it's certainly not without it's merit. However, I do agree with Max -- I don't think renting would provide me with enough time to really get to know them anyways. I'd much prefer to make the most informed decision as is possible, and perhaps replace a piece or two as time goes on if they're not getting as much use as I thought they would. But at least with a lot of humming and hawing, the one thing you get is a very *balanced* purchase.

With regards to distressors, I'm keen on them not only because many people here have stressed them as "must-haves", but also because I got the chance to play with one for a half a day a few months ago and remember really having felt it was versatile. I liked how you could run the gamut from mild to hot sauce. However, do other people think I could "get by" without a distressor? If I put a purple in there instead, would I need the distressor, considering the rest of the comps i'm planning on buying? What would I use to squash a room mic, for instance?

I've taken all the other talk into consideration too. The Dakings certainly look interesting but they seem sort of "middle of the road" from what I've heard here. Does anybody know sort of what "family" of sound they're in? Or are they really that variable?

The TG1 hasn't gotten much talk here so far, but I just get a feeling I'm going to adore it on Mix Bus, drum bus, as well as various other duties. I spoke with an old friend who owns one a few months ago who just raved about the thing...

I think I've also decided I'm going to skip the Tube Tech and go straight for the LA2A. I want something I know will kill on vocals, and that seems to be the darling of the last century.

So, that leaves me with something that looks vaguely like this:

• LA2A
Distressor? (or something else?? Purple 77? What else could fill that hole?)
•*TG1
• Portico 5043? Daking? Trakker? 1968?

Both the second and fourth options are still up for grabs. Tell me what you know. You guys rock.
#25
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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I definitely would keep at least one Distressor in your list for sure. It's without a doubt the swiss army knife of compressors, in fact I'd be perfectly happy with a rack of 10 Distressors and nothing else (but that wouldn't be properly slutty--or would it?)

The Daking comp is in the same family as the Distressor, very versatile, can go from transparent to colored depending on your needs. I definitely wouldn't want to be without at least one of those two comps in my arsenal.

I have a TG1 and it's an interesting piece for me. Definitely colored, and while it sees usage on pianos, drum overheads/room, I rarely find myself using it on the mix bus. It's also not a piece I use on every session, whereas I have yet to do a session that my Distressors don't get used every single time. In fact, I've been considering selling my TG1 or trading it for some other comps. YMMV.
#26
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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I'd do:
Daking Fet Comp II (2)
Distressor (2)
Chandler T1
#27
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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Throw in 2 160x's and a Valley people dynamite..
A lot compressor action for little extra money..
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24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zboy2854 View Post
I have a TG1 and it's an interesting piece for me. Definitely colored, and while it sees usage on pianos, drum overheads/room, I rarely find myself using it on the mix bus. It's also not a piece I use on every session, whereas I have yet to do a session that my Distressors don't get used every single time. In fact, I've been considering selling my TG1 or trading it for some other comps. YMMV.
I've heard that from a few people, and I've also heard the TG1 would kill on the mix bus, so I suppose it comes down to taste. The stuff I'm doing is very beatles-esque .. we go for a 60's/70's sound ... so I get the feeling it might work for us? And then I figured if I added that portico in there as the fourth option, it gives me another choice for mix bus compression.. Greg Wells and others seem to swear by it..

Quote:
Originally Posted by arrogantbastard View Post
I'd do:
Daking Fet Comp II (2)
Distressor (2)
Chandler T1
Mr. Bastard -- you omitted the LA2A .. so of the three you suggest, what would you say would get me a similar effect on vocals? I really love that LA2A vocal swank.
#29
24th September 2006
Old 24th September 2006
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I like package one the best or package 4.

With one, it's so simple and obvious where I'd put everything in a mix.


I don't think you'll find yourself putting a TG-1 on a mix, but it's an amazing compressor an you'll find plenty of uses for it.
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24th September 2006
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The Daking compressor is anything but middle of the road. They are one of my fav. compressors. Geoff Daking based his gear on the Trident A Range stuff... hard to go wrong there.

The Distressor is more of a Swiss Army knife, though. Faster if you need it, the selecter switches and distortion choices are very handy, and you can't make it blow up.

The Portico doesn't look as cool as these other units, but in feedback mode, is just ridiculous sounding. I'd cry if someone took them away from me!

You definitely don't want to put a TG-1 across the mix buss. It won't work. However, it's amaaazing on vocals, drums, bass... individual tracks.

Have fun!
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