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How many hardware compressors for mixbus?
Old 14th May 2019
  #1
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How many hardware compressors for mixbus?

So many compressors, so little time/cash!

If a person has an Opto for tracking vocals, a FET for more aggressive vocals and drumbus, an SSL-type for glue, a diode bridge for glue on slower tracks, and a vari-mu for a nice finish on everything, that's a lot of compressors.

How many flavors of compressor do you have in total, and how many do you use while mixing on a track at a time, serial or parallel? Which combinations? Which have you decided you 'don't really need' in hardware?
Old 14th May 2019
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
So many compressors, so little time/cash!

If a person has an Opto for tracking vocals, a FET for more aggressive vocals and drumbus, an SSL-type for glue, a diode bridge for glue on slower tracks, and a vari-mu for a nice finish on everything, that's a lot of compressors.

How many flavors of compressor do you have in total, and how many do you use while mixing on a track at a time, serial or parallel? Which combinations? Which have you decided you 'don't really need' in hardware?
IN hardware I have two channels each of:
1176
La2a
la3a
Anamod Am660
Chandler Zener
Dramastic Obsidian
Distressor
Manley Vari-Mu
Neve (AML) 2254
Lisson Grove AR1

I tend to use software plugs on individual channels (other than lead vocal), and hardware compressors on busses which I mix into (the numbers vary according to what I'm mixing). The Obsidian usually lives on my mixbus.
Old 14th May 2019
  #3
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ok, wow, gotcha. I'm trying to figure out something similar, if still a bit on a budget, moving from software to hardware, currently hardware comps on my mixbus is tkaudio ssl-tyle, igs tubecore vari-mu, and igs v8 diode bridge/2254 style (very happy with both igs!), getting ready for some new projects, so revamping some things. currently using summit tpa-200a and hendyamps michelangleo before comps for some warmth and peak shaving so the compressors don't have to do as much.

how many comps do you usually have going at once on the mixbus? ssl first, but then into what? I'd figure a tiny bit of vari-mu on most stuff to finish it off, but ever sub out the ssl for the aml 2254 comp, or just put it in between? or is it all in parallel? using console to mix parallel returns from the comps, or something else? always good to find out what other people are doing.
Old 14th May 2019
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
ok, wow, gotcha. I'm trying to figure out something similar, if still a bit on a budget, moving from software to hardware, currently hardware comps on my mixbus is tkaudio ssl-tyle, igs tubecore vari-mu, and igs v8 diode bridge/2254 style (very happy with both igs!), getting ready for some new projects, so revamping some things. currently using summit tpa-200a and hendyamps michelangleo before comps for some warmth and peak shaving so the compressors don't have to do as much.

how many comps do you usually have going at once on the mixbus? ssl first, but then into what? I'd figure a tiny bit of vari-mu on most stuff to finish it off, but ever sub out the ssl for the aml 2254 comp, or just put it in between? or is it all in parallel? using console to mix parallel returns from the comps, or something else? always good to find out what other people are doing.
I rarely have more than just the obsidian on mixbus. If I would add anything to that it would generally be the Lisson Groves. I'm not crazy on the Manley Vari Mu on mixbus tbh (though mine doesn't have either of the factory mods)
Old 15th May 2019
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
IN hardware I have two channels each of:
1176
La2a
la3a
Anamod Am660
Chandler Zener
Dramastic Obsidian
Distressor
Manley Vari-Mu
Neve (AML) 2254
Lisson Grove AR1

I tend to use software plugs on individual channels (other than lead vocal), and hardware compressors on busses which I mix into (the numbers vary according to what I'm mixing). The Obsidian usually lives on my mixbus.
Do you have the ones on the busses in parallel?

Refiguring my setup right now so interested to see.
Old 15th May 2019
  #6
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so the obsidian is on mixbus, but you've got others an busses for other stuff. what's on which buses? def curious, this is helpful. I thought a vari-mu as the final polish on a mixbus, after whatever does the glue, was kinda standard.
Old 4th June 2019
  #7
Sorry for tardy response. I just finished an album that has been pretty full on.

I don't really pair them to particular instruments rather than a vibe I am shooting for. For example, if I am shooting for bright airy backing vocals, they will get the vari mu. If I want darker vintage style backing vocals, they will get Lisson grove. So in my mind, it's more about what I'm shooting for than what the instrument actually is.

Make sense?
Old 6th June 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
So many compressors, so little time/cash!

If a person has an Opto for tracking vocals, a FET for more aggressive vocals and drumbus, an SSL-type for glue, a diode bridge for glue on slower tracks, and a vari-mu for a nice finish on everything, that's a lot of compressors.

How many flavors of compressor do you have in total, and how many do you use while mixing on a track at a time, serial or parallel? Which combinations? Which have you decided you 'don't really need' in hardware?
For mixbus I’ve ended up with an insert on my 1608 of my Manley VariMu T-bar mod, followed by a Retro 2A3 and a Cranesong HEDD into a Burl B2 Bomber back into PTHD. Then I’ll use Izotope Ozone 7 for some limiting and dither. I’ve used the Cranesong STC-8M and the Vertigo VSC-2 on mixbus plus some others, but I love the Manley. I sold the STC-8M (too many options), but I’ve kept the Vertigo for that tight VCA flavor. I also love my Inward Connections VacRac TSL-4 Anniversary for the right project, but I also love it on drum overheads. There are so many units to try. My advice is buy used or new and keep trying things out and selling what you don’t like. Experience and workflow will dictate what works for you. All the circuits you mentioned are tried and true performers. Money permitting, get them all and then trim the fat and find the favorites.

For some reference, here are some improvised jams of my drummer and myself in my studio. Mistakes and all. We get together every Saturday and play. Not sure what we’ll do with it, but maybe some of you will enjoy. Here’s the gear breakdown:

Tracks 1/2- OH’s - Microtech Gefell M930T’s into 1608 into PTHD. Mixing inserts = IC Vac Rac TSL-4, 550B’s.
Track 3 - Kick - Telefunkin M82 and SubKick into 1608 into PTHD. Mxing inserts = MC77, Mercury EQP2, 550B.
Track 4 - Snare - Josephson e22s top and Sennheiser MD441 bottom into PTHD. Mxing inserts = MC77, Mercury EQP2, 550B.
Tracks 5/6 - Tom and Floor Tom - Sennheiser MD441 into 1608 into PTHD. Mixing inserts = SSL E Series Comps, 550 B’s.
Track 7 - Room mic - Flea U47 Thiersch capsule into BAE 1028 into PTHD. Mixing inserts = Chandler Ltd Germanium Comp, A Designs Hammer, and 550 A.
Track 8 - 6 or 7 string PRS Custom 24 into pedal board, Marshal Joe Satriani model head, Two Notes Torpedo, into BAE 1028, into Burl B2 Bomber into PTHD.
Track 9 - My Vocals - Dr Alien Smith Dirt Mic into 1608 into PTHD. Mixing inserts are Avedis e27 and Rupert Neve 543.
Track 10 - Clint’s (drummer) vocals - Beyer Dynamic M201 into 1608 into PTHD. Mixing inserts = Avedis e27, Rupert Neve 543.

My 1608’s mixbus has an insert of my Manley VariMu, Retro 2A3, Cranesong HEDD, and the 1608 mix out goes into the Burl and back into PTHD.

https://youtu.be/y8HI_W5QpK0
https://youtu.be/26p5MWKuWqM
https://youtu.be/k1YDOQfVXA8
Old 6th June 2019
  #9
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
So many compressors, so little time/cash!

If a person has an Opto for tracking vocals, a FET for more aggressive vocals and drumbus, an SSL-type for glue, a diode bridge for glue on slower tracks, and a vari-mu for a nice finish on everything, that's a lot of compressors.

How many flavors of compressor do you have in total, and how many do you use while mixing on a track at a time, serial or parallel? Which combinations? Which have you decided you 'don't really need' in hardware?
I have several sets of 2(stereo unlinked) that i send stuff to. They are all set to do different things and have different tones. When i mix i just throw the sound to different sets and see which make the sound work the best for the song. The settings never change on the comps, then all that goes through the MB Vari mu.
Old 7th June 2019
  #10
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The settings never change on the comps, fascinating. Why is that? Do you set them for each song, or what each piece of gear seems best at? Using a patchbay I could see this all making sense. But how do you navigate the serial/parallel thing? Sometimes you want a snappy VCA going into a thick diode bridge into the vari-mu, each doing a very little bit, other times you want each doing their thing rather intensely, then mixed lightly in with the original. Not sure if I can think of a sensible way to route between these sorts of setups in a way that's easy to a/b, or perhaps even mix them. Or do you just patch each up on the fly, see how it sounds, and repatch to compare? My guess is that's the best way, but seems hardly ideal.
Old 7th June 2019
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Sometimes none sometimes all of em

On the mixbus inusually end up with a focusrite red 3 rev a somethimes the ssl 4ke quad comp
Sometimes just a c2 sometimes a 333609 metal knob
1178s for oh and rooms
La3as on vocals guitar bass
Matched pair 1176 black for vocal paras
Urei platform comps on drums tracks 10 of em
Sometimes none
Distressors on snare bottom and samples
Whatever works
1176 bliestripes on vocals if it works
Cl1bs sometimes work
176s work
Depends!
Old 7th June 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
For compressors, Hardware sounds better than plugs if the hadware costs more than about $1000 (160 flavor is an exception). If the hardware costs less, you are better of with plugs most of the time, at least for mixing. For tracking, hardware is always better, even with lower cost compressors if used correctly.

There are many flavors:
I think of them this way:
LA2A
1176
Variable MU
Distressor (Digitally controlled hardware) that adds smack
Fatso (Digitally controlled hareware) that removes smack
LA3A
Big boy tube compressors ...Fairchild is classic example.

There are about 20 flavors of 1176 on the market, lots of price points & options inside that one flavor.

Once you find the right settings (what you want to hear) and input levels for each compressor, they often do not need adjusting. The choice is what compresor, how hard to hit it.....a touch more or less, and how it's used (insert, parallel, etc...)

It looks like Riff has really found the chains he prefers. Nice Info Riff.
Old 7th June 2019
  #13
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this is all super helpful. thanks everyone for the insights!

not sure how LA3A differs from the others. Is it kinda an La-2a meets an 1176? Faster than La2a, solid state over tube, but not as fast as a FET. What makes it unique, or is it more an all rounder?

(also never quite got why opto on tracking but rarely mix (more often vari-mu), or how dbx vca differ from ssl vca in relation to the more general compressor categories of opto/la2a, fet/1176, vca/ssl, diode/2254, and tube-vari-mu, strange pwm and digital styles).
Old 7th June 2019
  #14
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
The settings never change on the comps, fascinating. Why is that? Do you set them for each song, or what each piece of gear seems best at? Using a patchbay I could see this all making sense. But how do you navigate the serial/parallel thing? Sometimes you want a snappy VCA going into a thick diode bridge into the vari-mu, each doing a very little bit, other times you want each doing their thing rather intensely, then mixed lightly in with the original. Not sure if I can think of a sensible way to route between these sorts of setups in a way that's easy to a/b, or perhaps even mix them. Or do you just patch each up on the fly, see how it sounds, and repatch to compare? My guess is that's the best way, but seems hardly ideal.
The settings never change for recall reasons.
If i turn all my hardware and console on, i can recall any box session perfectly. Its dreamy.

In mixing, If i want that much detail i do it in the box or burn it.
These HW pairs are more about tone and width and just keeping things reigned in at the end of their chain, they are doing 2-3db reduction (except the Nail on the vocals which can hit 6db) at the very most and usually the lights arent even on.
I use the HW comps as you described when tracking.

I also run 3 static(settings don't change) different parallel chains on the vocal in hardware and have a set blend that doesnt change either, the LV comes out of the box to 4 places, one being clean.
I have several peices set up to hit hard on sends as well like a Distressor, 1176, 166, trans designers... that i can throw things too.

Last edited by GreenNeedle; 7th June 2019 at 04:20 PM..
Old 10th June 2019
  #15
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proxy's Avatar
 

SSL either on mix buss or drum/bass buss

Sometimes JoeMeek SC2 on guitars/keys buss

Recently been using more tape plugs and hardware like Overstayer MAS for glue on subgroups and stereo out.
Old 10th June 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by proxy View Post
SSL either on mix buss or drum/bass buss

Sometimes JoeMeek SC2 on guitars/keys buss

Recently been using more tape plugs and hardware like Overstayer MAS for glue on subgroups and stereo out.
what's your thoughts on the MAS. curious about that one. some say too subtle, other's say it can be pushed. esp curious how it compares to analog tape sims like rnd 542 or tube based gear.
Old 10th June 2019
  #17
Gear Head
 
BOMI's Avatar
Hi, I have a manley vari mu t-bar mastering accompanied by other vca compressors like vertigo sound vsc 2 and gml 8900. I often use the vca and minus the manley .... but the various mu sometimes turns out to be magic for some situations. as for versatility, unlike many people, I find the gml 8900 really powerful and incredible on every type of material. you can have an LA2A and an 1176 with a click! Formidable in the two modes, incredible on vocals and tracks with incredible piano dynamics. Really nice ....
Old 11th June 2019
  #18
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proxy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
what's your thoughts on the MAS. curious about that one. some say too subtle, other's say it can be pushed. esp curious how it compares to analog tape sims like rnd 542 or tube based gear.
I can see why people say the RND is subtle, because I thought it was too. Nice sound, but quite subtle.

The MAS on the other hand, I can’t imagine saying it’s limited to being too subtle. I push drums into it pretty hard, and then dial in 20% or so in parallel and it’s got some good hair on it.

I use a second MAS on the mix bus for more subtle saturation (only one light blinking on the meter), and it’s still worth it in my book.
Old 11th June 2019
  #19
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Strobian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
So many compressors, so little time/cash!

If a person has an Opto for tracking vocals, a FET for more aggressive vocals and drumbus, an SSL-type for glue, a diode bridge for glue on slower tracks, and a vari-mu for a nice finish on everything, that's a lot of compressors.

How many flavors of compressor do you have in total, and how many do you use while mixing on a track at a time, serial or parallel? Which combinations? Which have you decided you 'don't really need' in hardware?
I have one, API 2500. I think you can do a lot with one compressor if you are producing. It may not work on larger sessions if time is an issue. I bounce stems through it, so depending on your mixing style one could work for you. I'm a fan of really getting to know a unit. The 2500 is good on a lot of sources if you utilize the types of sound in it and vari the threshold settings on different items. I do want an OPTO for tracking in the future, but I use the UAD 1176 in console right now and it sound pretty good. Software compressors sound decent these days, for clarity, but I think they lack a little punch like a hardware 2500 has.
Old 11th June 2019
  #20
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Oldone's Avatar
I have a few:

RN 5043 - the poor man's 33609. Seriously great on most things.
C1LA - Alan Smart's SSL clone for when it's got to be snappy.

The above are all 2 buss but for parallel and tracking add:
LA2A, DBX 160x and the 1176.

These will cover most things for what I do. Looking for a Manley Limiter in the future.
Old 11th June 2019
  #21
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so what I'm hearing is rather than set up some insane frankenstein routing system with all possible 2bus comps going serial and parallel all the time and raise and lower levels from there, most people seem to go simpler.

that is, listen to a track, throw one or two comps at it that seem like they will get it where it needs to go, tweak, if not, try a diff combo and/or order. rarely more than 2, so doesn't need to get crazy complicated, but a diff 1-2 for diff tracks. which means my original idea that this was all done by crazy routing is overthinking it.

Does that sound about right?
Old 11th June 2019
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by proxy View Post
I can see why people say the RND is subtle, because I thought it was too. Nice sound, but quite subtle.

The MAS on the other hand, I can’t imagine saying it’s limited to being too subtle. I push drums into it pretty hard, and then dial in 20% or so in parallel and it’s got some good hair on it.

I use a second MAS on the mix bus for more subtle saturation (only one light blinking on the meter), and it’s still worth it in my book.
just got a single rnd 542 in to test it, put it on mono mixes next to zulu. quite diff boxes. rnd is clearly more a saturation device, reminds me of my summit tpa tube amp in some ways. crazy low end bump that needs smoothing. more traditional than zulu in some ways, but sounds good at what it does. zulu is more immediately a tape sim, rnd seems to do a bunch of things, more flexible, but that means you have to dial it in to sound tape like, and since I have limited first hand experience with high end tape (other than crappy tascam 4 tracks from way back), I know I can hear what's good, but to get a vintage tape gotta find some good settings.

now that I've got it in front of me, kinda wonder if Overstayer MAS wasn't designed to do what 542 does, but improve on it, after all, MAS came out after 542, both do 2nd/3rd order with bump, etc.

From what I can tell, you sold the RNDs but kept the MAS (in my case to complement Zulu)? Would you recommend that? I suspect I may do the same.
Old 11th June 2019
  #23
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
so what I'm hearing is rather than set up some insane frankenstein routing system with all possible 2bus comps going serial and parallel all the time and raise and lower levels from there, most people seem to go simpler.

that is, listen to a track, throw one or two comps at it that seem like they will get it where it needs to go, tweak, if not, try a diff combo and/or order. rarely more than 2, so doesn't need to get crazy complicated, but a diff 1-2 for diff tracks. which means my original idea that this was all done by crazy routing is overthinking it.

Does that sound about right?
There are some places you just cannot get to without it getting complicated. Its only complicated till you become intimate with it though. And i can’t imagine it would be worth it unless your ears told you it was.
If you have a solid understanding of how things work, when you need to get somewhere you will find a way, it may be complicated or not, depending on your resources and methods.
Old 11th June 2019
  #24
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Actually C1LA is snappy but with soft knee options, and low ratios etc. it is a very versatile bus comp. it always adds a certain hifi smoothing top end thing tho that may or may not work.

Also have the API 2500 here - again very versatile tone options with the thrust control and makeup gain, can go from on the cleaner side to really quite coloured.

And finally the Manley Vari Mu here, when it works it’s pure bliss and I’d say that’s 50% of the time or more.

Certainly is nice to have options
Old 12th June 2019
  #25
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bzone's Avatar
 

I believe it is almost material dependent. I have narrowed it down to ; OCL-2, SHMC, Unfairchild and the Highland Dynamics BG1. All great with different functionality.
Old 12th June 2019
  #26
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proxy's Avatar
 

I did eventually sell the RND, and now own two MASs.

Not because RND was bad, but the MAS seemed a bit more flexible, doing subtle (2 buss) and not-so-subtle (drums).

If I could keep them all and add a Zulu I would!


Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
just got a single rnd 542 in to test it, put it on mono mixes next to zulu. quite diff boxes. rnd is clearly more a saturation device, reminds me of my summit tpa tube amp in some ways. crazy low end bump that needs smoothing. more traditional than zulu in some ways, but sounds good at what it does. zulu is more immediately a tape sim, rnd seems to do a bunch of things, more flexible, but that means you have to dial it in to sound tape like, and since I have limited first hand experience with high end tape (other than crappy tascam 4 tracks from way back), I know I can hear what's good, but to get a vintage tape gotta find some good settings.

now that I've got it in front of me, kinda wonder if Overstayer MAS wasn't designed to do what 542 does, but improve on it, after all, MAS came out after 542, both do 2nd/3rd order with bump, etc.

From what I can tell, you sold the RNDs but kept the MAS (in my case to complement Zulu)? Would you recommend that? I suspect I may do the same.
Old 12th June 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by proxy View Post
I did eventually sell the RND, and now own two MASs.

Not because RND was bad, but the MAS seemed a bit more flexible, doing subtle (2 buss) and not-so-subtle (drums).

If I could keep them all and add a Zulu I would!
gotcha, thanks for the input!
Old 13th June 2019
  #28
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Hey Proxy, did you feel you lost anything by selling your RND 542s? I guess I'm asking if there's anything they do sonically that the MAS doesn't do, cause I'm thinking of selling my RND 542 for a MAS!
Old 13th June 2019
  #29
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proxy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
Hey Proxy, did you feel you lost anything by selling your RND 542s? I guess I'm asking if there's anything they do sonically that the MAS doesn't do, cause I'm thinking of selling my RND 542 for a MAS!
Seemed like the RND was attempting to be a replacement for tape.

MAS feels like a remix of the whole idea of consoles and tape.

That’s Jeff’s whole vibe at Overstayer, and it appeals to me, so I don’t miss the RND.

There’s a fun interview with him on Recording Studio Rockstars Podcast where he talks about how his early influences as a musician lead to his aesthetic for designing products.
Old 13th June 2019
  #30
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Had the SSL G-Comp on the bus and didnt like it despite the hype. The chance that you kill the mix is actually higher than getting any advantage. I got great results with just a transformer based 'set and forget' limiter on the bus and different compressors on the inserts.
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