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Best compressor for tracking synths Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 16th July 2011
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Best compressor for tracking synths

Hi,

Normally I post in Low End and EDM subsections but I thought I'd ask here for some help on specific item: the compressor for tracking.

I rented a DBX 1066 today and have finally understood how compression works properly but am wondering if I should rent something else for that extra "polish". I'm tracking a Poly Evolver hardware synth via an Apogee Duet.

I realize there are diminishing returns here, but if someone were to say "That DBX is garbage, garbage! You must get X Y OR Z for that top of the line sound" I'd listen. I might not be able to buy it, but I could rent it for a month no problem and probably learn a lot just by using. Hell, I learned more this afternoon with my DBX than I have in a long time. OTOH, if someone were to say "so long as you're not overcompressing, the differences will be minimal", well then I could focus on recording these tracks.

As well, I'm using my Apogee Duet for the preamps. Should I consider purchasing a CountryMan or something before that?

Any help is very much appreciated.
Old 16th July 2011
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I like UA 1176, Distressor.
Old 16th July 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
abechap024's Avatar
 

Well considering you want a compressor to track synths, I'm going to take a leap of faith and say that you want a compressor that adds fatness and detail to the sound, making everything more "3d" and warming it up.
If I'm not too far off the mark, I would recommend something tube. lots of options. Usually more expensive.

Anything Vari-mu or la2a styled will be nice
Lots of VCA based stuff can sound nice, but generally not so great at "warming" things up like a vari-mu or optical tube can.
Old 16th July 2011
  #4
For synths I like to consider the amplification then the compressor. Used to have an La-610 and loved the way synths sounded through it, fat synths especially. The compressor played a distant second to the character of the preamp. I rented a portico and ran synths through a radial JDI into the pre and much more forward. Test different pres first you might be surprised what you find.
Old 16th July 2011
  #5
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XKAudio's Avatar
 

whatever sounds good! i have found there to not really be a standard as synth sounds can vary as much as all instruments/ try distressor for control and CL1B and LA2a for fatness... hope i helped
Old 16th July 2011
  #6
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Ok, I really appreciate the help.

I included a tiny mp3 to give you a sense of how phat it sounds already, and maybe you can tell me if you think there's a significant amount of phatness left to be achieved. It's kind of hard for me to tell how much extra room for phatness there is, so any help here would be appreciated.

I could afford renting either the LA 610, 1176 or the distressor. On first glance, I can't tell if these are stereo or mono inputs, so it would be ideal if they had 2 mono inputs for the 2 outputs from the synth.

The Radial JDI Duplex is about 400 to purchase which is nice.

So I'm guessing the signal chain would be synth, DI box, compressor, Apogee Duet, computer.

Would both a compressor and DI box be needed, or one way more than the other?

Thanks for patience and reading of this. Many thanks.
Attached Files

PhatSynthsDemo.mp3 (348.1 KB, 3044 views)

Old 16th July 2011
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
Gav G's Avatar
 

You will want to go into a mic pre before the compressor.

I agree with the poster above that the pre is going to be a big factor in the sound. When tracking synths, I like to crank the pre sometimes... see how far it can be pushed before it cracks up and then attenuate the output if necessary before hitting the converters. This can get you a lot of fatness and presence.

Personally, I tend not to compress synths when I record them and - to be honest, neither do most of the people that I have seen work.. and there have been a few.
Old 16th July 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Any mic pre you'd recommend over others?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gav G View Post
You will want to go into a mic pre before the compressor.

I agree with the poster above that the pre is going to be a big factor in the sound. When tracking synths, I like to crank the pre sometimes... see how far it can be pushed before it cracks up and then attenuate the output if necessary before hitting the converters. This can get you a lot of fatness and presence.

Personally, I tend not to compress synths when I record them and - to be honest, neither do most of the people that I have seen work.. and there have been a few.
Old 16th July 2011
  #9
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The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

Yeah, there's no need to compress on the way in - the waveforms already look and sound really even.

Loving my great river pre's DI at the moment...

Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Old 16th July 2011
  #10
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abechap024's Avatar
 

There are lots of way to add mojo/color/phatness

Knocking the signal down just to amplify it through a mic pre is one of them, but a line level compressor might be a better option.

And you would be surprised what a compressor can do to a signal that "already looks flat", alot of times you want to compress to change the dynamic envelope and harmonic content, not just keep levels reigned in.

I was watching a vid around the forum here, it was a guy that made some really phat sounds with synths and he was sending everything through a thermionic culture vulture.

Theres lots of guys that send almost everything they record through an la2a...

It just depends on what you find that works for you, and more importantly your sound.

(which judging by the sound sample you posted could definitely be benefited by a la2a or the like )
Old 16th July 2011
  #11
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Honestly, I have to work HARD to "slim down" the phatness of most synths. Everybody goes for fatter, fatter, FATTER, and there just not enough room in the track for all the parts. Mono is often better. Thinner is often better. Music is so smashed, most synth sounds / samples are already smashed. Not sure you need to be smashing more UNLESS you have a specific need to do so Just my $.02.
Old 16th July 2011
  #12
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toneguru's Avatar
As usual, I concur with Dr. Bill.

Here is a trick that I love to do live or in studio. Instead of compressing it, run it thru a vintage Fender Bassman 4/10 combo amp. And run the other channel DI. The dif is huge and the sound comes alive.

note: Don't run it too loud, the extreme tones and spectrum of a keyboard can wreck the supple guitar speakers.
Old 16th July 2011
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Eisbude's Avatar
 

liking the spl charisma on synths. its not a comp, but really effective!
Old 16th July 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Thank you for all the helpful responses. I decided to go in the meantime with the pre 73 mkII. I'll try it over the weekend and let people know how it worked out.

I'll probably still end up renting some of the other equipment suggested here. Still, at first glance, the mkII does smear it together more. Less of a glue per se and more of a musher (in a good way). Barely got it out of the box though so I'll have to play with the settings a touch.
Old 16th July 2011
  #15
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tekis's Avatar
Great sound!

That's a great sound you posted previously. It'd be nice to hear it in context. Maybe the dbx is fine as is? Don't over-think it...
Old 16th July 2011
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Dudley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsieur_R View Post
maybe you can tell me if you think there's a significant amount of phatness left to be achieved. It's kind of hard for me to tell how much extra room for phatness there is, so any help here would be appreciated.
.

surely this is a wind-up?



right?
Old 16th July 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Absolutely not. I figure if ever there were a forum for people to judge the relative phatness of a sound, this would be it. Maybe it's not quantifiable in terms of "you could get 5 percent fatter" but to be frank, that's kind of the criticism I was hoping for!

I'm going to add a few more clips later today or tomorrow to compare a few settings on the mk pre and see if I can make it a touch heavier and rounder. Here's hoping!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudley View Post
surely this is a wind-up?



right?
Old 17th July 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for this compliment and advice. It meant alot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tekis View Post
That's a great sound you posted previously. It'd be nice to hear it in context. Maybe the dbx is fine as is? Don't over-think it...
I've included as attachments the various combos:

JDI, MKII pre-73, DBX all through the Apogee.

To my ears, there is not a significant difference between any of the clips below, except for the one without anything in the signal chain. That one just sounds too bumpy and so I think the DBX plays a significant role in the tracking. (All variations such as JDI without DBX had this same problem, so I didn't include them below.)

For my money, the DBX on its own sounds more throaty in the lower regions, and a little more stretched out.

The JDI and DBX has a bit more bottom end, but I'm not sure it's even enough across the different notes to be "safe" to use.

The MKII and DBX sounds the smoothest, closest to late 80s guitar type of wall of sound.

The JDI,MKII and DBX together sounds the buzziest, and possibly the thickest but I'm not sure the difference justifies 500 some odd dollars compared to just the DBX alone.

What do you guys think?
Attached Files

DBX.mp3 (631.6 KB, 2920 views)

JDI...DBX.mp3 (631.6 KB, 2782 views)

MKIIDBX.mp3 (631.6 KB, 2801 views)

Nothing...onlyApogee.mp3 (631.6 KB, 2745 views)

JDI...MKII...DBX.mp3 (631.6 KB, 2689 views)

Old 17th July 2011
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Wow! almost ZERO difference
You will get more FATNESS then this with Soundtoys Decapitator. If you don't have one just try it with your synth.
Old 17th July 2011
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Eisbude's Avatar
 

try the spl charisma!!!!!!!!!!!!! it will fit your problem!
Old 17th July 2011
  #21
Gear Nut
 

The DBX is not a "colored" compressor per se, so if that's what you're looking for I'd go a different route.

While it's decidedly not "high end", I've had much luck in this particular application with the ART VLA PRO.

For the money it's a pretty impressive combination of transparency where you want it transparent with coloration where you want it colored, and it can be driven hard nicely.

With stock tubes it is a little bass shy, but I've actually found that to be beneficial the majority of the time (as drBill mentioned). I often use it for this function alone, especially when doing bass overdubs.

As a general rule though it never leaves my synth tracking buss.
Old 17th July 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
 

SPL Charisma 1 or SPL Charisma 2?

In brief, what type of characteristic would it add most to the sound? Thank you for the suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisbude View Post
try the spl charisma!!!!!!!!!!!!! it will fit your problem!
Old 17th July 2011
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
Eisbude's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsieur_R View Post
SPL Charisma 1 or SPL Charisma 2?

In brief, what type of characteristic would it add most to the sound? Thank you for the suggestion.
spl charisma 2, it is model 9733. check the manual via google.
more punch, warmth and more direct signal. also saturation if wanted.

BUT it is not a compressor!

I could process some synth tracks with the charisma for you for testing. pm me.
Old 17th July 2011
  #24
Lives for gear
 

The polyevolver sounds huge!
Is that a unison sound or just a monophonic line? with distortion i assume?
To add extra character to a synth sound going into the computer, i think you'd be better off with a preamp with a DI input, ideally one with transformers so you can saturate them.. that should thicken things up even more. Also maybe look at the Thermionic Culture Vulture for the most extreeme distortion. Boss GL-100 is pretty good for nasty distortion too and cheap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsieur_R View Post
Hi,

Normally I post in Low End and EDM subsections but I thought I'd ask here for some help on specific item: the compressor for tracking.

I rented a DBX 1066 today and have finally understood how compression works properly but am wondering if I should rent something else for that extra "polish". I'm tracking a Poly Evolver hardware synth via an Apogee Duet.

I realize there are diminishing returns here, but if someone were to say "That DBX is garbage, garbage! You must get X Y OR Z for that top of the line sound" I'd listen. I might not be able to buy it, but I could rent it for a month no problem and probably learn a lot just by using. Hell, I learned more this afternoon with my DBX than I have in a long time. OTOH, if someone were to say "so long as you're not overcompressing, the differences will be minimal", well then I could focus on recording these tracks.

As well, I'm using my Apogee Duet for the preamps. Should I consider purchasing a CountryMan or something before that?

Any help is very much appreciated.
Old 17th July 2011
  #25
Nrt
Lives for gear
 

1176, Germanium, Compex ?
Old 17th July 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 

It's unison, mild detuning with the fine knob.

It's the damnedest thing, I didn't even realize I'd put distortion on it! Just now I tried it with a touch more distortion, going from 6 to 9 (out of 15 or so) and it does get even crunchier!

I wish I could somehow physically manipulate this sound a little bit though and just stir it into something slightly mushier...especially the higher frequencies

The real key I find to the PE for thick sounds is the choice of digital waves you choose on top of the analog ones to thicken the sound. There are a lot of possibilities there depending on the combo you choose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJB06 View Post
The polyevolver sounds huge!
Is that a unison sound or just a monophonic line? with distortion i assume?
To add extra character to a synth sound going into the computer, i think you'd be better off with a preamp with a DI input, ideally one with transformers so you can saturate them.. that should thicken things up even more. Also maybe look at the Thermionic Culture Vulture for the most extreeme distortion. Boss GL-100 is pretty good for nasty distortion too and cheap.
Old 18th July 2011
  #27
Gear Addict
 

really i don't think you are looking for compressor
you are looking for distortion / saturator my friend
get the culture vulture, end of story
Old 18th July 2011
  #28
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonnu View Post
really i don't think you are looking for compressor
you are looking for distortion / saturator my friend
get the culture vulture, end of story

I agree i had my V synth GT at a friends studio! and once i hear the vulture through that thing it just came alive. Got rid of that plastic sound i was hearing and just really gave it a subtle warmth but had the possibility to give it more energy and excitement by driving the unit!

A Sebeatron VMP would work well in this application as well as a UBK Fatso! Theres many options.
Old 18th July 2011
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Hmmm...fatness. Like Dr Bill says, too much or the wrong type of fatness will just get in the way come mix time. So to add any, you'd want to know WHAT type of fatness you need fairly exactly, or you'd be likely to shave it all off again later to make the mix work. And compression for synths ....well, it would either have to want to be a REALLY in your face part or you'd do it for the way it 'rolls'/bounces dynamically to give it movement that goes into the groove. If the latter, you want to do that largely in the mix as otherwise it's blind/out of context.

Having said all that, people mentioning various distortions have a point. Plenty useful for synths/toneshaping/making and a cheap way to get in there that rocks is an Electroharmonix Black Finger......
Old 18th July 2011
  #30
Gear Addict
 
Songhead's Avatar
I would suggest trying out the Empirical Labs FATSO, or even better, the UBK FATSO - though they are marketed as compressors, they are truly tone shaping tools, and offer a very wide range and palate of effects.
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