The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Cleanest COMPRESSOR alive test - preproduction Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 22nd June 2014
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Cleanest COMPRESSOR alive test - preproduction

Hi and thanks for looking. This is a thread I have wanted to start for a long time. Many of you may remember the dirtiest compressor alive thread from a few years back, this test is the follow up to that thread, but in a different direction. If any of you participated or listened, you know it was a lot of fun. It was actually too much fun as it cost me an NS10 woofer conducting the "test".....

Anyway, this post is to gather some opinions of how we should conduct this test. Once I have some opinions, I will put together the files.

My thoughts were a 2 part test.

1) single snare drum, lets say a loop of 8 hits, the third of every 4 hits will be 10db louder than the rest. This should give us a good idea of how the compressors deal with transients, as well as test how much high end the comp eats when biting off that much signal.

2) drum mix, we will add that snare track into a full drum beat. This should shows us the artifacts left behind from the compression. As well as freq response, tone, etc.


3? this will be outside the poll of cleanest compressor, but should we do a bonus round for the best pumping compressor???? Sort of a tribute to the dirtiest thread.



Thoughts? Looking forward to people participating!!!
Old 22nd June 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 

A ring of keys jingling has been a good indicator of performance in the high frequencies.
Old 22nd June 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
using just drums won't tell you much
You wanna hear how clean a comp is
you need large freq spectrum instruments,
like a gran piano, dense harmonic content
Fast notes as well as slow decay ones
The release action of a comp is often
crucial for distortion/transparency

Also bass, bass freq can make a compressor fold

Vocals with wild dynamics, so you can see
how it reacts with a given setting at different GR
hear how different knees act, and if there are gonna be
program depending comps, again, how they perform
at diff GR with a given setting

High freq instruments too, to check how much they muffle - if -
that range.

Percussisve only would be extremely limited.

Then of course you should devide the test by
construction, meaning running the material
straight into the units w/no compression
to hear how the components color the sound
and then by action, meaning how the compression
affect the tone.

A comp can have a very transparent signal path
but artifacts can come up when you compress
In the same way a unit can have a color just running
material thru it but be able to shave off 20db of GR
without you hearing compression

Btw, the lil RNC is still one of the cleanest comps out there imho
Old 22nd June 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retinal View Post
using just drums won't tell you much
You wanna hear how clean a comp is
you need large freq spectrum instruments,
like a gran piano, dense harmonic content
Fast notes as well as slow decay ones
The release action of a comp is often
crucial for distortion/transparency

Also bass, bass freq can make a compressor fold

Vocals with wild dynamics, so you can see
how it reacts with a given setting at different GR
hear how different knees act, and if there are gonna be
program depending comps, again, how they perform
at diff GR with a given setting

High freq instruments too, to check how much they muffle - if -
that range.

Percussisve only would be extremely limited.

Then of course you should devide the test by
construction, meaning running the material
straight into the units w/no compression
to hear how the components color the sound
and then by action, meaning how the compression
affect the tone.

A comp can have a very transparent signal path
but artifacts can come up when you compress
In the same way a unit can have a color just running
material thru it but be able to shave off 20db of GR
without you hearing compression

Btw, the lil RNC is still one of the cleanest comps out there imho


Good points all around. I think the snare test is a good test to see how well a unit actually compresses.


We could obviously have tons of samples etc, however to keep it easy, we have to narrow it down to at most 3 test files.

Test 1 - first 8 measures, snare solo'd (with 1 +10db hit every bar), then bring in the kit.


Test 2 - ?


Test 3 - ?


Can we vote on what the next 2 tests should be.

Vocal

piano - Unfortunitly, I do not have an acoustic piano at my disposal, however if someone can supply that it would be great/

Maybe a bass track?


Suggestion/opinions?
Old 23rd June 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 
666666's Avatar
Cleanest compressor alive... which to me would mean most transparent...

Without even doing a test, is there anyone that feels that there is another compressor out there that is as clean / transparent as a GML 8900?

Any compressor will start yielding compression artifacts when pushed too hard. As well, most good compressors will yield nearly undetectable compression behavior at very "mild" settings.

BUT... one thing that a lot of "clean" compressors cannot achieve is to not "color" the sound. Almost any "clean" compressors I've ever used impart some degree of "coloration" to the signal, even if extremely subtle, whether compressing or not. However, the GML is one that I'd say is truly as close to being 100% invisible as you can get (as with pretty much all GML gear).

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post

...single snare drum, lets say a loop of 8 hits, the third of every 4 hits will be 10db louder than the rest. This should give us a good idea of how the compressors deal with transients....
This test may give you an indication of the attack / release times taking place, but in my opinion does not have much to do with the "cleanliness" of the unit. You may come across a super clean comp that has a slower attack range which may not allow the front edge of transients to be grabbed, thus yielding "artifacts" at certain compression levels, but this does not mean the comp isn't "clean".

"Cleanest compressor alive" might just be too broad of a term to be useful. You'd probably have to break it up into sub categories, such as "compressor with most transparent signal path", "compressor with most transparent compression behavior for fast transient material", "compressor with most transparent compression behavior for slower transient material", "compressor with most transparent behavior on sources that contain low frequencies", etc, etc, etc. Because there is no one single compressor unit that would win in all possible sub categories.

When I compare compressors, I never put them "side by side", try to match settings or whatever, etc, this usually doesn't yield any type of useful results. Compressors are most often inherently too different from each other in terms of features and specs to do any type of "side by side, A/B" comparisons. Pretty much impossible.

And to record results of compressor comparisons is also not really too fair because any given compressor can be adjusted in an infinite amount of ways / combinations. To record just one specific combination of settings on one unit and compare to another, just too many variables. Turn just one knob a few degrees on either unit being compared and the results could change drastically. And I HAVE heard many comparison recordings in the past, of units I was already familiar with, where it was obvious to me that one unit was not adjusted optimally for the test and thus was portrayed as being "weaker" than the other, when I know the opposite was actually the case.

Really, the only way to effectively compare compressors is for the interested party to have hands-on access to the units... then first patch in compressor #1 and try it out on a bunch of different sources, trying different types of compression, try some "limiting", try some "leveling", different degrees of threshold, etc, etc, etc... and just give the unit a full work out. Then patch in compressor #2 and do the same... and so on. Then after all that, the tester will have a good idea of what each compressor is all about and how they compare in general. Short of doing this, one will never be able to achieve a useful understanding of how different units truly compare.

But, regardless, any well-done compressor comparison recordings are always fun and educational to listen to. In some cases they can offer at least a bit of insight into the general character / capabilities of the units. It's always cool, the more, the better! Looking forward to it!

Old 23rd June 2014
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
BearOnGuitar's Avatar
 

Some dynamic female vocals would be great and if not a piano then maybe a picked acoustic guitar.
Old 23rd June 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
"Cleanest compressor alive... which to me would mean most transparent...compressor with most transparent compression "

.....Yes that is the idea



"Without even doing a test, is there anyone that feels that there is another compressor out there that is as clean / transparent as a GML 8900?"


.... Yes, the Atomic Squeezebox (at least in transparent compression), and I am sure several others will have their choice



"And to record results of compressor comparisons is also not really too fair because any given compressor can be adjusted in an infinite amount of ways / combinations."


..... In the title of the thread the COMPRESSOR was capitalized. So, I took that to mean, compressor with most transparent compression. Therefore I thought the test should include common duties engineers would need a transparent compressor (rather than using one for tone/color) for. Also, assuming we have competent engineers here, we are trying to achieve a specific goal (raising rms without artifacts), that should take a little of the "infiniteness" out of the picture.

1) Taming that snare hit the drummer was a little too excited about. (and its effect on the drum mix in general like on an overhead)

2) Dynamic vocal

3) I can provide a good acoustic guitar track

4) If were doing all that we have to throw a bass track in there.

"But, regardless, any well-done compressor comparison recordings are always fun and educational to listen to. In some cases they can offer at least a bit of insight into the general character / capabilities of the units. It's always cool, the more, the better! Looking forward to it!
My thoughts exactly!!!
Old 23rd June 2014
  #8
Lives for gear
 
gear is cool's Avatar
Air, depending on where you live.
Old 23rd June 2014
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
IUnknown's Avatar
Maybe "Best Compressor" or like your other thread "desert island compressor" would be broad enough to do a kind of shootout, where people can show what they have.

I had the impression that this is what you were after initially.
Old 23rd June 2014
  #10
Lives for gear
 
BillSimpkins's Avatar
I hope an Aphex Compellor makes it into the ring.
Old 23rd June 2014
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Charter Oak SCL-1 is amazingly clean
Old 24th June 2014
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
BearOnGuitar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monolithrec View Post
Charter Oak SCL-1 is amazingly clean
I agree and I don't think anything could do better at completely transparent compression. I haven't heard the GML compressor though.
Old 24th June 2014
  #13
Gear Nut
 

the GML is really great and quite transparent as well, but it costs about twice as much and IMHO has just a touch of sterility to it that is hard to explain.
Old 24th June 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BearOnGuitar View Post
I agree and I don't think anything could do better at completely transparent compression. I haven't heard the GML compressor though.

Have you heard an Atomic Squeezebox? It does AMAZING things. I invite you to bring your charter oak to the shootout.

Also, if anyone knows someone with the gml, please invite them to the thread. I will provide samples of the squeezebox, if we can get a gml, compeller, la2a, and a few others, we will have all the big boys and we can find out once and for all which has the most transparent compression.
Old 24th June 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
timtoonz's Avatar
Maybe it's a dumb question, but I've always wondered if there's a compressor that works by turning low-level signals UP instead of turning the peaks down? Wouldn't that tend to produce results that are more 'transparent'?

Something tells me this is a dumb question -- and yet I can't figure out the answer! Therefore: I must be an "audiot" ( a special kind of audio idiot). :-)
Old 24th June 2014
  #16
Lives for gear
 
BillSimpkins's Avatar
Also, the Dangerous Compressor.
Old 24th June 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
When I hear clean compression I think volume rides and automation, sorry. Or any trick that happens before the mic, like the "superstar vocals" of Stav.
Old 24th June 2014
  #18
Lives for gear
 
spambot_2's Avatar
The EL-8 distressor is pretty damn clean in the mild settings.
Old 25th June 2014
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
Also, the Dangerous Compressor.


Is that the same as the Aphex 651? Silver faceplate? I was trying to get a pair of those a couple of years back and heard they are the cleanest comps on the planet. Never heard them in person though...
Old 25th June 2014
  #20
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Seems like everyone has there on style on the meaning clean transparent etc, for me I have Never thought the Avalons 2044 was transparent, it has a flavor, same goes for the STC 8, yes it clean but still has a flavor. Rolls and so on.
I only remember one compressor I ever owned that you could tell that it was compressing and it was clean and NO color around, that was in the 500 series family , The Foote Pico, i don't remember the noise floor but that was a transparent compressor if they were ever was one, I sold the damn thing it was so clean.
Old 25th June 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllAboutTone View Post
Seems like everyone has there on style on the meaning clean transparent etc, for me I have Never thought the Avalons 2044 was transparent, it has a flavor, same goes for the STC 8, yes it clean but still has a flavor. Rolls and so on.
I only remember one compressor I ever owned that you could tell that it was compressing and it was clean and NO color around, that was in the 500 series family , The Foote Pico, i don't remember the noise floor but that was a transparent compressor if they were ever was one, I sold the damn thing it was so clean.


By transparent I am not referring to "tone", I am referring to which compressor can level a snare track with one hit being 10 db louder than the rest without artifacts the best.

Hopefully you will participate. Thanks
Old 25th June 2014
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
One thing that comes to mind... the snare won't exhibit a linear response -- when you lay into for that loud hit there may be more overtones present, more room ambience, perhaps the initial attack causes it to fold over on itself a bit, etc... I wonder if these natural artifacts may mask those of the compressor itself?

I dunno. Not discouraging the effort, I'd like to hear it in either case myself. :-)

EDIT -- Doh. I suppose the obvious solution is the same hit pasted in succession, but it would only work in isolation? Not with a full kit/beat?
Old 25th June 2014
  #23
Lives for gear
 
T_R_S's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
Also, the Dangerous Compressor.
+1 on that I love my Dangerous compressor it like a special compressor that Q would give James Bond to use ....
Old 25th June 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimFoster View Post
One thing that comes to mind... the snare won't exhibit a linear response -- when you lay into for that loud hit there may be more overtones present, more room ambience, perhaps the initial attack causes it to fold over on itself a bit, etc... I wonder if these natural artifacts may mask those of the compressor itself?

I dunno. Not discouraging the effort, I'd like to hear it in either case myself. :-)

EDIT -- Doh. I suppose the obvious solution is the same hit pasted in succession, but it would only work in isolation? Not with a full kit/beat?

I would use the same hit, isolated, as well as in the drum mix. This would show you how well it could level the single drum, than how that compression would behave on the whole kit. I would mimic dealing with the problem in a close mic, and the overhead.
Old 25th June 2014
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
The snare/kit test is a good one -- at least one I'd like to hear. Maybe construct one or two audio files as "stress tests" for specific criteria as well?

Say you had something harmonically rich to serve as a music "bed", along with some sort of transient mixed on top to trigger the compressor... Like a strummed acoustic track (or maybe even a more delicate fingerpicked track) mixed big, with plenty of low end as though it was a solo recording... and then slightly obnoxious close-mic'd quarter-note-or-less tambourine hits on top, mixed loudly... It may be interesting to see how cleanly a compressor could knock down those fast high-frequently transients without disturbing the more harmonically complicated acoustic guitar going on behind it. I guess this isn't so different than what you're looking to accomplish in the full drumkit example above, but in this case the "bed" wouldn't have such extreme dynamic information, and wouldn't be directly related to the transients triggering the compressor, if that makes sense.

Maybe that's a bad example, point being it might be cool to come up with some random scenarios that would/should cause most compressors to fall apart... since musicality isn't necessarily the benchmark here, you could get really creative.
Old 25th June 2014
  #26
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
By transparent I am not referring to "tone", I am referring to which compressor can level a snare track with one hit being 10 db louder than the rest without artifacts the best.

Hopefully you will participate. Thanks
Sorry I was offering my views about the thread title.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump