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Crane Song STC-8 Vs. Manley Variable-Mu Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 5th June 2014
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Crane Song STC-8 Vs. Manley Variable-Mu

Hi there,

There is a thread on this already but it didn't answer my question specifically.

I wish to purchase a compressor to use after mixdown to make everything sound tighter and more professional.

What would you say are the positives and negatives of the Variable Mu and the STC-8? And what are their best applications? What are their main differences when compared head to head; for similar tasks or otherwise? I'd like to ask advice from people who have both devices.

Thank you very much for your time.

I/O.
Old 5th June 2014
  #2
I like the Vari-Mu for a "glue" but if you're looking at making things louder it's attack and release aren't quite quick enough to work with on faster tracks sometimes.

That's my only input for this, I have heard the stc-8 but never worked with it, so can't comment on it.

But another compressor you may like is the Foote Control P3S ME, It's a huge workhorse and almost finds its way on everything.
Old 5th June 2014
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the advice. Actually I was planning to use a SLAM! for loudness, so perhaps the Vari-Mu would be a good combo.

Thanks for the recommendation regarding the Foote Control PS3 ME. I'll definitely check it out.
Old 5th June 2014
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron Octopus View Post
Hi there,

There is a thread on this already but it didn't answer my question specifically.

I wish to purchase a compressor to use after mixdown to make everything sound tighter and more professional.

What would you say are the positives and negatives of the Variable Mu and the STC-8? And what are their best applications? What are their main differences when compared head to head; for similar tasks or otherwise? I'd like to ask advice from people who have both devices.

Thank you very much for your time.

I/O.
When you say "after mixdown" do you mean as a separate mastering stage or that you will mix into it?

I have had both and sold both. They are fine boxes but they are very different. The stc-8 is very clean but is a very flexible box. The vari-mu has a very particular sound which is great when it is that you are looking for but it doesn't always work. The vari-mu never worked for my sense of aesthetic on mixbus. The stc-8 always worked but there was always something I preferred. Ymmv.
Old 6th June 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 

I use my TBar & Hi Pass SC modded VariMu on the 2Bus and typically use my STC-8M for individual tracks or at the mastering stage. In my opinion, the VariMu's strengths are that it definitely gives your tracks some glue, it's pretty easy to set up, and I find that it has a bit of that "larger than what you started with" effect as long as you aren't shaving off too much gain reduction. The Hi Pass SC when used can keep the lows from over compressing, and without the SC it can give things a bit more tightness and smack. The negatives are that it's not the most diverse compressor (although I've had good results on Overheads, bass, guitar and vocals), and it is colored in a slightly soft, tubey sort of way. So if you are after a clean, SSL style smack, this is not for you.

The STC-8 is a complicated beast that can be set up in a multitude of ways. I'm still learning it even after having it for a couple of years, and to be honest, I haven't mixed in to it on the 2Bus because my Vari-Mu has the sound I'm after. The STC-8 has a much cleaner and tight sound than the Vari-Mu, although Ki/Hara switch can add or remove a hint of saturation if that's what you are looking for. I'd say that the STC-8 is for the user that really likes to fine tune and manipulate their compression and wants a swiss army knife style comp. If you are not into tweaking that much, you can use A,B,or C modes which have predetermined Attack and Release settings for Vocals, Bass, or Program material. The V mode allows you to adjust all the settings as desired, and you also have 4 quadrants each containing the A,B,C, V modes but with different A-Mod and auto release settings governing them. As for the limiter, I don't really use it, and I've not found it very helpful, but I have a feeling that someone who knows its in's and out's a bit better could surely utilize it's functions well. As I said, it's a pretty deep box. The sound quality is very nice btw, it just depends on what kind of sonic signature you're after. I suggest demo'ing the two. Hope that helps somewhat. Cheers. - paul
Old 6th June 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
shelterr's Avatar
 

I've owned/used both extensively and I wouldn't reccomend either for a mix buss. They are both mastering compressors in my opinion and by putting them on a mix you would be severely limiting your mastering engineers options in doing his job. I tend to think of a VCA comp like an SSL style compressor as a mix buss compressor. I switch from both of the ones you mention to a Vertigo VSC2 and was very happy with the change.
Old 6th June 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 

The original Vari Mu with the 6386 tubes is what grew the name of the box to be as popular as it is. I can tell you it is amazing. As for the new ones, they might be good, but that is not what the stories you hear about them being amazing are based on.
Old 6th June 2014
  #8
Gear Nut
 

I mean as a mastering stage. Thanks for the great advice.
Old 6th June 2014
  #9
Gear Nut
 
Jack Duelisis's Avatar
 

Why comparing apples and oranges ?

such different beasts !
Old 6th June 2014
  #10
Gear Nut
 
Jack Duelisis's Avatar
 

Why comparing apples and oranges ?

such different beasts !
Old 6th June 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 
shelterr's Avatar
 

For mastering it is a really tough call between those two. I think fondly of the shiny, squishy and polished thing that the STC-8 does, but I also made a lot of good records with the Manley (which I used after I got rid of the SCT-8). The Manley just sort of gels things together but it can be a little slow for some material. If I had to choose now, I would probably go with the STC-8, although I always had a VCA comp that I ran before it on my own mixes. I never used the STC-8 on it's own since I was handling mix/master duties. If a mastered mixes for other people, I would often just use the STC-8 though.

I really did prefer the Vertigo VCS2 to both of them, although now I use a Knif Vari-Mu II which I prefer to all of the above mentioned.
Old 6th June 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron Octopus View Post
Hi there,

There is a thread on this already but it didn't answer my question specifically.

I wish to purchase a compressor to use after mixdown to make everything sound tighter and more professional.

What would you say are the positives and negatives of the Variable Mu and the STC-8? And what are their best applications? What are their main differences when compared head to head; for similar tasks or otherwise? I'd like to ask advice from people who have both devices.

Thank you very much for your time.

I/O.
Crane song!

But mix with it the whole time on yr 2.

Don't just strap it on at the end. An exercise in futility...

I think the crane song is more versatile. But it would be best to try both and see what gels with your vibes best.
Old 6th June 2014
  #13
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shelterr View Post
I think fondly of the shiny, squishy and polished thing that the STC-8 does, If I had to choose now, I would probably go with the STC-8, although I always had a VCA comp that I ran before it on my own mixes. I never used the STC-8 on it's own since I was handling mix/master duties. If a mastered mixes for other people, I would often just use the STC-8 though.
I agree the STC-8 is super polished and the attack and release is EPIC, all compressors should work that way. I have not use the Manley, but the 33609 is a knock out of the park for tracking, 2 buss or mastering.
Old 7th June 2014
  #14
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matucha's Avatar
Manley is good for subtle compression and some vibe. HPF mod is a must, it stays on on 80% of material. It gets brighter as you turn the input up, so you can fill in the mids-presence slightly with that. At some point highs start to sound a bit hard though so it's good to not overdo it. To me it sounds best (on 2buss/master) if the GR doesn't go over 1dB or maybe 2 at rare occasions. I use it a lot.

Don't know about STC8, I have pair of trakkers. Different beasts (than varimu) alltogether. They have tendency to dull the edge a bit, sometimes it's great for taming harsh stuff, other times I may not use them because I don't want to loose that edge. Air optical mode sort of (slightly over-)compensates for that, yet it's not 100% transparent in some cases.
Old 7th June 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
Manley is good for subtle compression and some vibe. HPF mod is a must, it stays on on 80% of material. It gets brighter as you turn the input up, so you can fill in the mids-presence slightly with that. At some point highs start to sound a bit hard though so it's good to not overdo it.


See, this is what I mean..... The 6386 vari mu just sounds better and better as you turn it up. It NEVER sounds hard. It also has different transformers as well which may effect the tone as well. I would research the different revisions if your serious about the Manley.
Old 7th June 2014
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Loving these replies. Really enjoy the passion in these posts. Despite our difference in skills we all share the same insatiable sluttery for gear.

Thank you
Old 7th June 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 

While I could and never would drop this kind of money the stc8 uses pwm compression and is so bloody silky smooth on transients. The pye compressor uses pwm (as does the ace new great river). Hard to impossible to find but there's a great project over at groupdiy where there's a pcb, mouser cart and case and about a $700 build cost but what a compressor/limiter at the end.
Old 7th June 2014
  #18
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matucha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
See, this is what I mean..... The 6386 vari mu just sounds better and better as you turn it up. It NEVER sounds hard. It also has different transformers as well which may effect the tone as well. I would research the different revisions if your serious about the Manley.
I have to say I'm quite happy with it. . If something, I'll probably add some different take on VM design.
Old 7th June 2014
  #19
Here for the gear
 

variable mu soft-knee 1.5:1 can be useful for your purpose...
Old 31st January 2019
  #20
Lives for gear
I have and love my 2001 Manley VariMu (with the TBar & Hi Pass SC modded) although I have not used the Cranesong. However, I am seriously considering getting a Cranesong. What I love about the VariMu is it is easy to achieve well gelled, loud, smooth and polished mixes. I tend to have the threshold set low (release times vary depending on the material), and the output lower in level (but not by too much) than the input to prevent clipping and create a nice full sound. Anyway, that's how I tend to use it. I use my VariMu in conjunction with a Massive Passive, Millennia SEQ-2 with FF mod, and Hammer EQ2. Most of the time I have the EQ before the compressor.
I have an SSL compressor which I use on MixBus, but I just love the Manley so much that I usually have it on MixBus instead of the SSL.
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