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Anyone compare the Smart 500 C1LA to the Obsidian 500 Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 30th July 2014
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rectifried's Avatar
Anyone compare the Smart 500 C1LA to the Obsidian 500

Since both companies updated their latest comps with features only on the 500 series anyone directly compare these 2
Smart is dual mono and has more hp etc etc and is a bit cheaper
Old 30th July 2014
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Yes. I prefer the Obsidian. If you have the room you can eventually expand it to true dual mono, making it more useful for tracking though the drawback is that it will also be way more expensive. Ultimately it has the widest stereo image, and feels the most expensive / "finished" sounding when I use it.

If you know for sure you can't go there financially in the future, I would get the C1LA and call it a day though. While it can't track in mono, it can operate in dual mono like an API 2500. Great unit. Both are the best 500 series G SSL types I've been able to try for final limiting, though I also REALLY like the Serpent SB4001, so if money again is a factor, you don't lose much going with the serpent. The Serpent sounds the most accurate to the actual SSL's, and it also narrows the stereo image a bit in the same way, bringing out the mono center of the spectrum slightly into focus. It also has the best transient response since it has a WET/DRY knob (which the other two don't have.)

I liked the IGS S-Type 500, but I felt it didn't quite compete with the more expensive Serpent. I thought the Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph felt more like an API2500 than like an SSL style VCA, so that's a great unit to get you in that territory for the 500 series. However I still feel that the Dramastic is the best fit for me overall in terms of tone. Roundbadge says it adds a "Sheen" you may or may not like. I agree, and I like it. YMMV.

Also, the Elysia Xpressor 500 is GREAT for the money. Totally neutral, not a color piece at all compared to any of the others, but I really liked it. If I was going to buy multiple stereo units for submixes, I would buy a few of those probably.
Old 30th July 2014
Lots of threads on this topic right now. Love both the Obsidian and 4001.
Old 31st July 2014
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Inceptic's Avatar

Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
However I still feel that the Dramastic is the best fit for me overall in terms of tone. Roundbadge says it adds a "Sheen" you may or may not like. I agree, and I like it. YMMV.
I've read this in lots of places that the Obsidian adds a sheen or "finishing touch". Does this sheen seem preferable for some genres more than others?
Old 31st July 2014
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Originally Posted by Inceptic View Post
I've read this in lots of places that the Obsidian adds a sheen or "finishing touch". Does this sheen seem preferable for some genres more than others?
To me it's like INSTANT (current) ALAN MOULDER Since he's been using one for years now on a lot of mixes....just add gain reduction. It's absolutely a sound in his current equation I can suss out now.

I mean...I don't really think in terms of certain things being best for a has SUPERIOR STEREO IMAGING, everything is sitting better in spacial relation when I use it. I think this whole one unit over another thing has relevance if you happen to own far too much equipment for practical use.

I'll put it to you this way. I've shot out a bunch of the current VCA compressors on the market. Elysia Xpressor 500, Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph, Serpent SB4001, IGS S-Type, the new GSSL 500, Vertigo VSC-2, The Dramstic Obsidian, Smart C2 and C1LA, RND 5043 and MBP, and the API 2500.

I think the Vertigo and the RND MBP are truly amazing, and the Obsidian was the closest I could get to their level in terms of overall stereo image size / quality of sound in a 500 series unit. All three are different, but all three are really BIG sounding, which is what I'm after. I will probably get the MBP next...since I can own that and Dramastic for just a little more than the Vertigo...but the Vertigo was the most refined sounding unit of the three.

I flat out can't afford the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor (I know Roundbadge favors that and doesn't have the Dramastic anymore, but look at the price difference), maybe I'll want it later down the line, but in terms of overall features, these are my guys out of the list of what I've gotten to try out. I picked the Dramastic over most other SSL-alikes and the API2500...and I determined that the RND MBP has a feature set that I want next from there in terms of controls and overall tone, I also know they both play well with my Chandler Germanium Compressors, which have been on my 2Bus for 6 years exclusively.

I'm going after sounds in my head, not trying to pretend that there's only certain genres and times where this stuff is useful. I know what I like since I have a fairly refined personal sense of aesthetic at this point. Treating a bunch of tools like Louie Vuitton purses is silly. Why should brand names or what other people use defacto factor into my choices at all? Don't I owe it to myself to try as many sounds out as I can, and then make an informed decision that serves my tastes and needs?

If every other studio has the API 2500...good for them, I'd rather work on making better mixes than those guys and standing out. I can see the appeal of the unit, but when I obviously prefer something else, why wouldn't I just use what I like better and shape the mix into the units I tend to prefer from the start? I will say that an API 2500 could make it's way into the equation at some point (Drum and Guitar bus usage mainly, some tracking) but I don't see it being on the 2Bus over the Obsidian or the MBP or my Germanium Compressors very often, so...for now I don't see it as being a must have.
Old 1st August 2014
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Actually I shall re-address the thread and it's post by keeping the following scenarios in mind.

There does seem to be a huge attraction at the moment regarding "Master Bus Compression" no matter if the end Programme material comes straight from the outputs off a Console, DAW or Hybrid/Summing Mixers - the sheer number and range of Compressors released every year and the choice now is near explosive. The number of SSL type Bus Comps and the prolific versions coming in the 500 VPR alliance format is also bigger then ever - and much less expensive then 19 inch rack units. I have never seen more Compression Hardware available before. From VCA to Valve, Opto, Fet, and Trafo to Feed forward/Back designs and the numerous combined multiple units like the Manley Slam or Drawmer 1968/69ME, & TX In/Out Dramastic Obsidian, apart from the old SSL/Smart VCA Units to Neve 33609, and API 527, 525 series.

There seems to be a great deal of people asking is "Unit-A" better and/or more useful then "Unit-B" and if so why?. When you are dealing with Master Bus Compression firstly I think people need to think of Acoustics 101 and the Controls a Master Bus Compressor has and it's ability/outcome on the Final Programme Material - The ability to capture the Frequency response! Many of the questions and A- Vs -B scenarios also naturally seem to extend from the lack of Local Audio/Music Stores keeping High End Compressors on Hand for users to choose from and shoot out with. Certainly a frustrating scenario, though sites like Zen Pro Audio people can compare/differentiate to a degree what certain units do. Then D/load a comparative file scenario where you can at least Hear the various Wav Files in decent resolution. So seeing and Hearing the units in action gives you at the minimum some benchmark.

When I started out Bus Compression used to be a rather simple affair that you either subscribed to or you didn't. Working with SSL consoles made the Bus Compression equation different to say an MCI, Harrison or Neve Console scenario. Compression wasn't such a wide use effect as it's used these days though more a controlling device situation and/or AGC unit in most work. You were either making sure you maintained Dynamic Headroom into Analog 2" and even Digital Tape, and as far as "Outboard Compressors" were the choice was near minimal. These days the numerous Features and Filters offered in a Bus Compressor to many can make a huge difference - More so in the SSL Type Compression scenario. The units now include so much and can impart so many differing effects from their original use in really just shaving a few dB of the Main Signal. The situation now is that Bus Comp's can really serve as double and triple duty in multiple scenarios not just the Master buss, even to the extent where many use Fast VCA SSL type Bus Comps for Mid/Side Microphone Recording and the Submixing of many signals.

Certainly Bus Compression and it's Final use in the signal chain is not going to be a magic panacea that "Makes the Mix Better" scenario, something I often wonder if is understood, though no matter what Bus Comp you choose, your gain staging and routing, alongside other all the other components used in the Mix from EQ, Dynamics to Effects and even Spatial processors is going to bear down on your Final pass. The real difference here in this "Thread" is the difference between the Obsidian and C1LA. Again, it's all down to the feature set that the unit offers and how your going to make use of that feature set. For some the Classic SSL G-FX384's 2. 4. 10. Ratio's and then Threshold along with Attack/Release constraints is enough. For others the ability to insert Eq's and other processors, while often making use of a multed master track to make sure the end programme material doesn't suffer in shrinkage or specifically that Stereo Width is maintained and that No loss of Bass end Dynamic Range are selling points, and very important ones. I don't think you would be losing if you bought and used either unit as both have a solid purpose.

Though when your dropping Big money on a serious Bus Compressor you do want to get a decent 5-10 years usage out of it. They are expensive units and warrant a total investigation! If your access is limited and you've done as much research as can possibly be done then taking certain user's advice and weighing up that advice might help sway your decision. I just really wish there was a "Sticky" for Bus Compression so users thinking of a purchase will not fall into something like the API-2500 trap where as a dual mode unit and with many more features offered then typical SSL type VCA compressors people get tired after 6 months of use feeling they "Can't get that certain Sound" that they hoped the unit would bring. Considering that's not what the Op's asking I can only conclude my saying naturally whatever feature set makes you feel the most comfortable and will enable you to make great use of the Obsidian or C1LA is the unit to grab - I'd also keep in mind that Bus Compression and Mixing into a Bus Comp is something you learn, and not to expect some instant magic by dropping a unit on the Final of your Signal chain!

Old 2nd August 2014
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SRS's Avatar

Wow... That's a lot of words that I simply couldn't follow too well. A direct spin-off of my thread that went the Obsidian route.

What Would You Choose SSL Bus Comp or Smart C1LA?
Old 3rd August 2014
TheLastByte... Well said my man. That should be a sticky for sure!
Old 11th October 2014
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I have been engineering for 25 years and have not heard a better preamp. I have multi-platinum album credits.
Erm....Congratulations, ... so? Benefit of the doubt I guess!
Though in the end - Spam in a Can!


Last edited by TheLastByte; 11th October 2014 at 07:41 PM.. Reason: Spam Post
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