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what's so bad about Avalon 737 compressor? Condenser Microphones
Old 22nd June 2011
  #1
Gear Maniac
what's so bad about Avalon 737 compressor?

I've had my Avalon 737 for years, but used to sing into it without compression, preferring to control dynamics with mic distance. Recently tried it on 4:1 setting, low threshold, and liked the result; sounded same as without compression (to my less-than-golden ears), but a little smoother, and I was able to raise overall gain. Had always feared it would sound unnatural ( I do mostly old-fashioned swing, jazz standards), but it didn't.

In earlier posts, everybody hated the compressor in this unit. Why? Is it just lack of "character," or is there some other fault? Since i'm not looking for "attitude," but simply leveling, am I still missing out on some magic qualities another comp. would impart?

Enlighten me, please, ye more evolved slutz.

Last edited by lifesize; 22nd June 2011 at 07:24 AM.. Reason: proofing text
Old 22nd June 2011
  #2
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifesize View Post
I've had my Avalon 737 for years, but used to sing into it without compression, preferring to control dynamics with mic distance. Recently tried it on 4:1 setting, low threshold, and liked the result; sounded same as without compression (to my less-than-golden ears), but a little smoother, and I was able to raise overall gain. Had always feared it would sound unnatural ( I do mostly old-fashioned swing, jazz standards), but it didn't.

In earlier posts, everybody hated the compressor in this unit. Why? Is it just lack of "character," or is there some other fault? Since i'm not looking for "attitude," but simply leveling, am I still missing out on some magic qualities another comp. would impart?

Enlighten me, please, ye more evolved slutz.
Maybe I'm an idiot or deaf, but the compressor works fine for me. I think it does what it's supposed to do--control level in a somewhat transparent fashion. No, it's not going to spank your drum bus or give you a CLA mix. That's what plugins are for

-R
Old 22nd June 2011
  #3
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
I think a lot of the flaming has to do with expectations and the fact the box received a bunch of hype at GC a while back, possibly unwarranted. I used to use a one quit a bit but didn't find the comp too useful for tracking lots of instruments because it's pretty slow. It's cool on bass guitar sometimes and for some vocals. Never liked it on electric guitar and certainly not any drum elements. It is transparent so that's either good or bad depending on what you like. I don't think the box is bad by any means and it is built like a tank. EQ section is very useful too. Pre just isn't nearly as fun as Neve, Aurora, API, Daking, or a whole slew of character pres but color is just my personal preference.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #4
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elambo's Avatar
Some of it's hype, but not all. I rarely stuck with the 737's compressor, usually switching to something else in the end. I've never been able to put a finger on what exactly didn't work about it, but it would probably be some odd tangible adjective like, "too spongy" or "too plastic." It's been a while since I've had one, but I remember not loving the compressor. I like the eq quite a bit, and the preamp was very nice. Even exceptional on some sources.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #5
Here for the gear
 
Stratosticks's Avatar
 

It simply has it's place. I use the entire unit exclusively for my bass direct, and have has some great results on R&B vox. Like all outboard gear these days, each piece may do some things great and other things not so much.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #6
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elambo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratosticks View Post
I use the entire unit exclusively for my bass direct, and have has some great results on R&B vox.
Avalon bass is great bass. I've used the 737, M4 and M5 and all are stellar for just about any style of electric bass.

And it's funny you also mentioned R&B vox, which was another thing I thought it did particularly well. Especially male vox. I love(d) its high end air, great for R&B, and the eq could really make things interesting.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #7
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Stratosticks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
Avalon bass is great bass. I've used the 737, M4 and M5 and all are stellar for just about any style of electric bass.
I actually started with a U5 over 10 years ago for bass. Then went to the M5 before ultimately settling on the 737 a few years back because of the bells and whistles.

I used it on some male R&B vox about a year ago when I couldn't get him sounding sweet through my API 3124, thru an API 550, thru a Distressor. He had a delicate voice like M.J., and the 737 really put a nice sheen on the vox.

Used an Avatone CV-12 and I will swear by this pairing for male R&B vox from here on out.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #8
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I used an Avalon 737 for direct bass for years. I liked the sound and the compressor. I sold it and have missed it for this use.

I now use the ADL 600 for direct bass and its good too. Usually I do not compress during tracking and the ADL is very versatile and I like it better than the 737 on bass.

However, I have always thought the negative surrounding the 737 was unwarranted.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #9
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edvdr76's Avatar
The compressor section of the Avalon 737 is a bit slow, but not useless. It's beautiful on acoustic guitar, some vocals, and bass. Not as bad as some people on gearslutz claim it to be.....
Old 22nd June 2011
  #10
...too slow for decent drum squashing.....
Old 22nd June 2011
  #11
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waxx's Avatar
 

i never liked avalon gear much, the general sound is a bit whooly, and the 737 is the lessest usefull for me. mediocore pre, comp is to slow and wrong coloured, and the eq is wrong set for me. The price is too high i think (for avalon in general) But if it works for you, go ahead...
Old 22nd June 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
thanks for the help

so glad i posted my question. your responses made me feel good about using the compressor while tracking, since i record mostly croon-y baritone sounds at moderate tempo, so grab speed is not an issue, and since i only wanted smoother levels, not compressor color.
Old 22nd June 2011
  #13
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterbaide View Post
...too slow for decent drum squashing.....
So if you use it for drum squashing it's a user error, not an inadequacy in the compressor.

-R
Old 22nd June 2011
  #14
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zephonic's Avatar
The 737 is not a character box and does not really excite. But it sounds fine and does not get in the way of recording.

As others have mentioned before, its fortes are mic'd acoustic steelstring guitars and stacked BGV's. It really shines there.

I find that it lacks punch and presence for lead vocals, but it's better to add that in the mix with plug-ins anyway. On some voices it increases sibilance.

I only ever used it with a U87. Sometimes I found there wasn't enough gain for that mic.
Old 23rd June 2011
  #15
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
So if you use it for drum squashing it's a user error, not an inadequacy in the compressor.

-R
Old 23rd June 2011
  #16
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Not every piece of gear should be evaluated in terms of what it does to drums. Definitely the tail wagging the dog.

-R
Old 23rd June 2011
  #17
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SteelyDani's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zephonic View Post
I only ever used it with a U87. Sometimes I found there wasn't enough gain for that mic.
Old 23rd June 2011
  #18
It works just fine.

My favorite applications:
1. TFunk M80 into Avalon 737sp for snare. Lowgain set to -18, comp threshold on -6, 6:1 ratio, fast attack and mid release. EQ: Some mid cut around 600, tiny bit of high end boost. Beautiful controlled crack.

2. Bass. Hard to get a bad sound out of it.

3. Female vocal. Neumann 87/89/TLM170/TLM102 or AKG C12 into the 737, mild comp, no eq.

Cheers,

Ward
Old 23rd June 2011
  #19
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mbvoxx's Avatar
No complaints about the 737 here. I use it with a U87 & a 416 for VO work and it sounds great.
Old 24th June 2011
  #20
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
What's "so bad" about the Avalon 737 compressor is mostly a case of 'blame the tools'.

The compressor is designed to do certain specific things (esp transparent gain riding) and if you set it up with some savvy to do those things, it does them well and earns its keep.

On the other hand, set it up ineptly, or set it up to do a job it wasn't designed for, and it'll be another story, but that's hardly the fault of the 737.

Oh - and there's one other thing "wrong" with the 737, which is that it's fashionable and *cool* to bash it on GS - so you'll even find people who've never owned or (mis)used one chiming in to heap on it.
Old 24th June 2011
  #21
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skythemusic's Avatar
Only everything. To my ears this is the most overhyped, crappy sounding strip ever made. I'd much rather have an art vla and mpa at 1/4 the price.
Old 24th June 2011
  #22
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skythemusic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
So if you use it for drum squashing it's a user error, not an inadequacy in the compressor.

-R

Exactly. I'll never understand apologists for this piece of gear. It can be MILDLY useful on certain stringed instruments (at least the pre and eq). The comp is utterly useless. Anything with a fast attack? Yeah, good luck. Vocals? If you like em' boring and bathed in a pile of sibilant poo then by all means. The eq is probably the last offensive but I never found it sounded good for boosting anything. This strip makes low end focusrite sound like God.
Old 24th June 2011
  #23
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky Media View Post
The compressor is designed to do certain specific things (esp transparent gain riding) and if you set it up with some savvy to do those things, it does them well and earns its keep.
I think you're hitting on a key point here, which is that what it's setup to do very well--and it does what it does very well--may not be what a lot of people expect from a high end channel strip. For me, when I think of the ideal high-end channel strip, I'm thinking about a tracking tool that is flexible in terms of both speed and color. For mono sources like bass and vocals especially, I want to be able to go from pretty clean to colored and I want a comp fast enough to level a signal or just make sure fast tempo transients are kept manageable so my mix comp isn't working as hard. I want to add some mojo before I hit the disk, especially if it's my only outboard. The 737 just isn't designed to do these things, which is of course fine, but it's not what I want out of a channel strip. For a little more, I could get a more versatile channel strip that does do what I want. Or if I'm willing to buy used, I could buy the a comp, EQ, and pre combination.
Old 24th June 2011
  #24
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Tone Laborer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peacock View Post
I used an Avalon 737 for direct bass for years. I liked the sound and the compressor. I sold it and have missed it for this use.
+1, nice on bass.

The EQ seems under appreciated (by some) for as good as it is. ART channel....please. You funny guy.

I rented one, an early one, years ago. The metering and action on the compressor reacted odd. Very little GR unless you slammed the threshold. Going by memory.

Didn't they correct this at some point?

Sorry if I'm off base with this, I haven't used one in awhile.
Old 24th June 2011
  #25
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skythemusic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Laborer View Post
+1, nice on bass.

The EQ seems under appreciated (by some) for as good as it is. ART channel....please. You funny guy.

I rented one, an early one, years ago. The metering and action on the compressor reacted odd. Very little GR unless you slammed the threshold. Going by memory.

Didn't they correct this at some point?

Sorry if I'm off base with this, I haven't used one in awhile.
Not the art channel, but I prefer the mpa gold pre and the vla comp (with upgraded tubes) to the avalon.
Old 24th June 2011
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Is this the "if I slag off the Avalon I'll look cool and masterful" thread? Great, let me then gain some cool points for agreeing with comp somehow being 'spongy' and just not too appealing other than for utter vanilla touching. But I'll rob myself of cool and admit I rather like the eq. The pre is 'good' but doesn't excite me. Am I cool too now?
Old 24th June 2011
  #27
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SeanG's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
Exactly. I'll never understand apologists for this piece of gear. It can be MILDLY useful on certain stringed instruments (at least the pre and eq). The comp is utterly useless. Anything with a fast attack? Yeah, good luck. Vocals? If you like em' boring and bathed in a pile of sibilant poo then by all means. The eq is probably the last offensive but I never found it sounded good for boosting anything. This strip makes low end focusrite sound like God.
BS... if you learned how to use the thing you would know that you can side-chain the mid bands of the eq for very nice transparent de-essing.

I love the comp for transparent vocal riding and de-essing, and have been using constantly for 10 years. No Babyface mod necessary and no BS overpriced NOS valves necessary. Just learn how to use it and it's a great value for a clean but not sterile class A tube amp, opto compressor, and eq with side-chaining capabilities, and don't forget an amazing hp filter.
It's also built like a tank in 10 years of heavy use I've never had a single issue with the thing; it's one of the most reliable pieces I've ever owned. In my opinion it's a steal for such a studio workhorse.


...
Old 25th June 2011
  #28
Gear Nut
 
adrummingdude's Avatar
 

I've owned a 737 in the past and honestly didn't like the compressor from the start. The pre is VERY smooth, almost to a fault as it's hard to track in your face, dry vocals through it. The compressor is too slow to be useful for most things, and then when it does attack, even at low ratios it has a way of sucking the life right out of whatever it's compressing.

Everybody's entitled to their opinion for sure, mine is based on my own experience. The 737's preamp section through an 1176 I liked WAY better on 99% of the things I ran through it than the opto comp in the 737.

The one shining star in that box IMO is the active high pass filter, which is quite lovely and won't introduce any wierd combing or strange Q effects around your corner frequency....really a great filter.

Do I regret selling it, no. Would I use it if I had another, yes.
Old 25th June 2011
  #29
Gear Addict
 
Pred80r's Avatar
 

737 Compressor

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
I've owned a 737 in the past and honestly didn't like the compressor from the start. The pre is VERY smooth, almost to a fault as it's hard to track in your face, dry vocals through it. The compressor is too slow to be useful for most things, and then when it does attack, even at low ratios it has a way of sucking the life right out of whatever it's compressing.

Everybody's entitled to their opinion for sure, mine is based on my own experience. The 737's preamp section through an 1176 I liked WAY better on 99% of the things I ran through it than the opto comp in the 737.

The one shining star in that box IMO is the active high pass filter, which is quite lovely and won't introduce any wierd combing or strange Q effects around your corner frequency....really a great filter.

Do I regret selling it, no. Would I use it if I had another, yes.
I own a 737sp now and I still do not like the compressor. I changed out my tubes from the SOVTEK's to some TELEFUNKEN's and the compressor actually worked a bit better but wasn't exciting me.

I sat one day running a vocal track through the compressor and tried all kinds of settings just to see if I wasn't using it correctly...Nothing made me smile.

It is a REALLY slow compressor and the threshold seems to do NOTHING until it all of a sudden does too much. Having said that however I do like to track with it just to take the edge off of a screamer for vox and a heavy plucker on acoustic gtr or bass but it never sees the light of day for mix.

I am a HUGE fan of the Avalon as a mic pre and I love the transparent quality of the EQ but the compressor has never convinced me...
Old 25th June 2011
  #30
Gear Addict
 
Pred80r's Avatar
 

737 vs ART

Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
Only everything. To my ears this is the most overhyped, crappy sounding strip ever made. I'd much rather have an art vla and mpa at 1/4 the price.
This is a joke right? The company I work for used to be an ART dealer and before I jump all over this ridiculous sentence I just want to make sure that you aren't joking.

Are you?
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