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Solid State Logic FX384 or Al Smart C2?
Old 18th May 2003
  #1
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Solid State Logic FX384 or Al Smart C2 or ...?

time for a bus compressor. Has anybody done a direct comparison between the Solid State Logic FX384
and the Al Smart C2? I always liked the original (?) Quad compressor in the SSL 4000/6000 series. Or would I better better off with a Crane Song STC-8 or Manley Vari-Mu, NEVE 33609? I want to squeeeeze things without it being too noticeable.

Comps already in the rack are:
ADL-1000
BSS DPR 404
dBx 160VU
Empirical Labs EL7 Fatso
Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor
Chandler Limited EMI Tg12413
Innovonics 201
Quad Eight QE
Summit TLA-100
Symetrix 501
TC Finalizer 96k
TC Triple-C
Urei 1176 LN
Valley People Dynamite
FMR audio RNC 1773
Barth Dynaset
Massenburg MDW in the TC 6000
Eventide DSP 4000

IMHO none of those (with the exception of the Massenburg) are particular great for stereo bus compression.
Old 18th May 2003
  #2
Michael, if you don't have any Crane Song in the rack I think you owe it to yourself to own some. STC-8 or pair of Trakkers, you can't go wrong IMO...especially if you don't want things to be too noticeable (but not sterile either).

The Pendulum ES-8 is also quite incredible.
Old 18th May 2003
  #3
IMVHO as I'm no expert.......
but I think it would be a waste to have either the SSL or Smart if you didn't want them to be 'too noticeable'.
I bow to others superior knowledge on Cranesong. Sounds like a golden suggestion.
Other than that .....the Neve (2U) rack compressors are soft and widely used and I believe the API 2500 is very versatile.
Old 18th May 2003
  #4
Alan Smart

Hey,

I've had the Alan Smart for about 5 years, and absolutely love it. It certainly has a sound, and plenty of aggression. If you're looking for a compressor with character, this is it.

- Kent
Old 18th May 2003
  #5
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

I like the Tubetech SMC2B about half the time and recently tried a pair of mono EAR comps linked together (smooth...and quite a bit like a 670).

Never been a fan of the SSL quad comp, though lots of people use it.

Tried two different 33609s on the mix this year, both times it didn't work for me. Too much GR unless you turn your mix way down. Not subtle at all.

Would love to try the STC8 but Funky Junk is the distributor in France and they don't stock a demo machine here AFAIK.

Ideally, I'd like to shoot out the following:

Tubetech SMC2B
Crane Song STC8
Pair of EAR comps
Fairchild 670 in good shape
GML 8900
Al Smart C1
API 2500

Jon
Old 18th May 2003
  #6
Lives for gear
 
C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

We recently went through a similar process :


Wanted a bus compressor and got 4 to try out :

-Tubetech SMC-2B
-Cranesong STC-8
-Avalon AD2044
-Manley Vari-Mu


Ok, SMC-2B is Multiband so not realy fair to compare it against the other 3 (or is it ???)

Anyhow, The Tubetech was the first one to stay, Both my partner and I agreed that this one was a keeper.

As for the other 3, I'm an Avalon fan and would have loved to keep the Avalon. Amazing how avalon succeeds in Compressing 'hard' without changing your sound. So to 'squeeze things without it being noticed' you HAVE to try the ad2044. But anyhow, Mark (partner) wanted the STC-8 and since he let me win last time, I let him win this time. So the Cranesong stayed in too.

I'll get the avalon some day.


Michael, definately check out the sys6k options if you don't allready have them. you can 'rent' them from the sys6k website but I'm sure you allready knew that. The brickwall limiter alone is worth the package imho. nothing else comes close when it comes down to limiting. Especially in the 'squeez without notice' field
Old 18th May 2003
  #7
I find the STC-8 is like a dynamic 'golden syrup' that gets poured on the mix buss, I personally dont find I am so much changing the attack & release times in tandem with the musical rythem, more controling the syrupy, music enhancing "goo".

The SSL has a more profound effect, I find the attack & release functions essential to tune to the tempo of the track. It's un-subtle and often too powerfull an effect on my mixes and 80% of the time it's in use over on my drum buss..


Old 18th May 2003
  #8
Moderator emeritus
 

Michael, if you want to borrow my Vari-Mu, give me a call; I can do without it for a few days. I'd also suggest that the API stereo compressor (which I don't have) is worth a listen.
Old 18th May 2003
  #9
Re: Solid State Logic FX384 or Al Smart C2 or ...?

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener
time for a bus compressor. Has anybody done a direct comparison between the Solid State Logic FX384
and the Al Smart C2? I always liked the original (?) Quad compressor in the SSL 4000/6000 series. Or would I better better off with a Crane Song STC-8 or Manley Vari-Mu, NEVE 33609? I want to squeeeeze things without it being too noticeable.

.
I have.

Of the lot, I own the STC-8,Vari-Mu(mastering version),SSL and C2 and had a 33609.

My favorite on the 2bus is neither. I actually like the Focusrite Blue 230 for that purpose(close sounding to the 33609).

Lately though i have been using the STC-8 a little more for the 2 bus and using the 230 for other things. At times the Manley works. The SSL and C2 are always doing something on drums/guitars, so they don't see as much action on the 2 mix. They can be very agressive sounding, which will change the character of the mix. Of the two, the SSL is bigger sounding, the C2 is clearer.

I think if you want that transparent 2 bus thing, than check out the STC-8.
Old 19th May 2003
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

manley

anyone using the SLAM for the bus mix?

Burt
Old 19th May 2003
  #11
Lives for gear
 
blackcatdigi's Avatar
Re: Re: Solid State Logic FX384 or Al Smart C2 or ...?

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor

I actually like the Focusrite Blue 230 for that purpose(close sounding to the 33609).
Interesting. Lots of folks seem to like the 230 or early Red 3 for two bus.

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor

I think if you want that transparent 2 bus thing, than check out the STC-8.
Agreed. Very transparent.

BTW, I'm thinking of trying to find something with a little more 'attitude'...
Have you had a chance to check out the Chandler LTD2 (based on 2254)???
If so, how would you compare to the 33609 (since they're virtually impossible to find these days)?

Again, I third the STC-8 for transparent 2 bus...
Old 19th May 2003
  #12
Re: Re: Re: Solid State Logic FX384 or Al Smart C2 or ...?

Quote:
Originally posted by blackcatdigi
Interesting. Lots of folks seem to like the 230 or early Red 3 for two bus.



Agreed. Very transparent.

BTW, I'm thinking of trying to find something with a little more 'attitude'...
Have you had a chance to check out the Chandler LTD2 (based on 2254)???
If so, how would you compare to the 33609 (since they're virtually impossible to find these days)?

Again, I third the STC-8 for transparent 2 bus...

The 230 and the early Red 3 besides the repeatable settings on the 230, are the same thing. The early Red 3 has a transformer on the input and the output. The only problem was after a couple of years the knobs(pots) would go. So they decided to build a more solid version(the 230) and continued to build the Red 3(without the transformer on the input) for people that couldn't afford the 230. That's when the price dropped on the Red 3(as well as its fans). They both sound so different its amazing.

At one time i had the big "3" of the Neve compressors- a pair of 2254e,32264a and the original 33609. Of the three only the 2254e and 32264a remain in my arsenal(I was a big compressor freak for a while and now I just buy mostly EQ's and effect devices).

The 2254e and 33609 are 2 different kinds of sounds. Not just that one is class A and the other is not, but they literally give you different sounds. The 2254e is more darker, not as flashy as the 33609(or 32264a). I use it in cases where I want to give something thin a little bit more character. It tends to darken things a touch.

The 33609 and the 32264a are much clearer and flashier. They both sound similar(or the one's that i had). To me the 32264a was just a touch more flexible(it worked on more sources). To me the 32264a along with the Distressor are probably the most flexible compressors ever made.

I haven't checked out the Chandler yet, so I can't recommend.

By the way, if you can wait a little bit Geoff Tanner will debuting a comp in the fall. He is for all intents and purposes the father of the 33609, so I am sure his comp will have some of the sound.
Old 22nd May 2003
  #13
Lives for gear
 

I recently did a shootout with an SSL FX384 and an Alan Smart C1. The Smart was a bit more colored and more aggressive to my ear(which surprised me). Both sounded cool on 2-bus. I went with the SSL and am very happy with it. YMMV.
Old 22nd May 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

AL Smart all the way.... C2 is the bomb but i have never used a C1 to offer an opinion on a direct comparison....

But also check the group DIY site for the DIY verion of the G series buss compressor. Hear many favourable things about it.

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 22nd May 2003
  #15
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
To somewhat answer the original question... I have found the Alan Smart C-2 far more useable than the C-1... I find myself tracking things through the "Crush" mode on a regular basis... even if it's a 'parallel compression' thing that still ends up being a mono track... for the cost differential between the C-1 and the C-2... the C-2 is well worth it.

OK... now that the 'editorial' is over... I have found the C-2 to be a bit more "HiFi" sounding than the SSL. One of the things I like about SSL compressors is that they do indeed impart an aggression that damn few other compressors are capable of achieving.

The C-2 can have a similar 'aggression' characteristic... except, with a more "HiFi", open, opulent presentation. In many ways the API 2500 can also do this kind of work... along with being a very nice, gentle, clean and clear sort of event.

I hope this is of some marginal assistance.
Old 22nd May 2003
  #16
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Great advice everybody, thank you.

I'm going to try to get the C-2, SSL, API 2500, GML and the CraneSong STC-8 in the studio at the same time to do a comparison with my unmastered material. I'll post my findings.
Old 22nd May 2003
  #17
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher

OK... now that the 'editorial' is over... I have found the C-2 to be a bit more "HiFi" sounding than the SSL. One of the things I like about SSL compressors is that they do indeed impart an aggression that damn few other compressors are capable of achieving.

The C-2 can have a similar 'aggression' characteristic... except, with a more "HiFi", open, opulent presentation. In many ways the API 2500 can also do this kind of work... along with being a very nice, gentle, clean and clear sort of event.

Michael-
Having experience with both, I agree. Very eloquently put, Fletcher! Nice use of the word opulent as well. I tend to use the 1.5:1 ratio most of time when I mix. The crush is a very useful tracking feature, and the extra ratio, attack and release settings (relative to the SSL) are very handy. Plus the output is discrete transistor and balanced, which may account for the 'hi-fi' nature of it. Just beware of running it into unbalanced inputs without lifting the un-used audio pin (there are switches on the back for this).

Cheers,
John
Old 22nd May 2003
  #18
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

How would you guys compare these two units to the J series mix bus comp? How alike/different?

Jon
Old 22nd May 2003
  #19
Quote:
Originally posted by jon
How would you guys compare these two units to the J series mix bus comp? How alike/different?

Jon
Hey Jon,

Of the three the SSL FX is the most agressive(closer to the G than and E), followed by the C2. I would put the 9000 last.

For some reason it sounds different than the others.

But it may sound different if you took out of the console. The SSL compressor sounds different in the console than in the rack.

Of all the variants my favorites were the SSL comp in the old 6000E and the 4000E.
Old 22nd May 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
drundall's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
The SSL compressor sounds different in the console than in the rack.

I have always tripped on this. I think I like the console version better, although I am getting used to the sound of the fxg384 more. I used to like what it did to drums but now I'm really into what it does to heavy guitars. Also like the API.
Old 25th May 2003
  #21
Gear Addict
 

We just tried the Al Smart C1 and C2. I live in Australia and they represent good value for money as they are now being made here. I was expecting to prefer the C2. As a tracking compressor I did, however we were really after a 2 buss compressor. We found the C1 to be more subtle and not as 'cold' sounding. The C2 was very aggressive but changed the "sound" too much for our liking. The C1 was classic SSL G series. Much smoother in the way it handled the signal.

Cheers,

Everglass
Old 26th May 2003
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Michael: What kind of music do you work on and what do you print to?
Old 26th May 2003
  #23
Quote:
Originally posted by robdarling
Michael: What kind of music do you work on...
I hope you are kidding right?heh
Old 26th May 2003
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Hey, a guy can change. I used to make indie metal, now one of my artists is the grandson of Richard Rogers.

Maybe I should say, what is your sound these days? What are you looking to have happen? What is the flavor you want?
Old 27th May 2003
  #25
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by robdarling
Michael: What kind of music do you work on and what do you print to?
Even though I live in Nashville, I'm still sticking to what I like and know how to deal with, mostly heavy guitar oriented Rock, all kinds of loud stuff, as long as it has melody. I'm not looking to squash things as much rather than to fill up the dynamic holes just a little. I really don't like the way some of those "modern" CDs sound and I would rather get into video than making stuff sound like that.

I mix to the Masterlink (digital out of the Sony DMX) and to the Tascam DA98HR and (my favorite) a Genex DSD recorder via Mytek converters.
Old 27th May 2003
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Michael: Are you using Michal's DSD convertor? I had the fortune of being at the showing he gave to the Sony bigwigs this past AES show and had my first glimmer of what digital will one day really be. Great stuff.

Trying to fill in holes? As in, looking for the glue that digital leaves out more than trying to get more smack out of anything?

In that case I'd vote Manley, but you should also look for a Giltronics line amp. I don't know what John Gilleran knew about tubes that no one else did (he's out of the business now, though if you contact him he sometimes does one-offs,) but his mic pres and line amp are just incredible. They sing in the mids and just properly thicken the lows, while the highs stay clear. The line amp is pretty straightforward. As you press it harder, tubes fire deeper and soften, but without every really crapping out. The best compression without dynamic loss that you'll ever hear. It's the box mastering guys don't show you, because it means they're not really doing anything you couldn't do yourself.
Old 29th May 2003
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Smart C2/Chandler TG1

I just had the opportunity to A/B the smart C2 compressor and the Chandler TG1 on drums today and WOW!!! I like them both a lot!. The Chandler was out of this world.. I have never heard a compressor sound like that on drums...HUGE!! The Smart was great for the grundge drum tracks that I was trying to achieve!

Overall I need a very versatile compressor. I don't think the TG1 will work on the Mix bus very well (i did not have time to try it).

Has anyone else tried the TG1, yet??

Thanks to Jeff of Vintage King who drove out from LA to my place with a rack full of gear. BTW. on the Mic pre front the EMI 2 channel pres copies that Chandler makes were awesome. Great for the price. Any one else experienced the Chandler gear yet?

Mojava
Old 30th May 2003
  #28
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
correction

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener
I mix to the Masterlink (digital out of the Sony DMX) and to the Tascam DA98HR and (my favorite) a Genex DSD recorder via Mytek converters.
Oops, sorry, I meant Meitner converters (emmlabs)
Old 4th June 2003
  #29
Gear Head
 

I use many different 2 mix comps. The API, as most have said, is very versatile; lots of different and cool sounds. If you're into tube-y stuff, you should ABSOLUTELY check out the Pendulum 6386 and ES-8. The former if on a Fairchild vibe, and the ES-8, well, it has a sound, but boy is it luscious. It does this cool, "glassy" thing to the top end. On my top 5 (3?) list of favorite pieces of gear I've ever owned.

Greg at Pendulum is a prince. (908) 665-9333
Old 11th June 2003
  #30
Lives for gear
Just to turn things up a notch, which of the above stereo comps would you get for the mix buss AND to use on individual instruments? This would be for use with Ptools HD.
I know, get em all
daniel
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