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
Budget / Mid-range Pre, EQ, & Comp options for recording chain
Old 10th January 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Question Budget / Mid-range Pre, EQ, & Comp options for recording chain

I'm looking to build a decent, single channel tracking chain of preamp > EQ > compressor.

Right now, I'm generally either going straight into my audio interface's preamp (unless I need a DI first, of course), or I'm going in through my mixer's channels that has preamp and EQ, then sometimes into a cheapy compressor for light dynamic control, and then into my audio interface. The former sounds much better, but without much pre-A/D control, and the latter has more control, but none of the control is particularly high quality, and things are a bit noisier.

So, I'm wanting a versatile, fairly inexpensive, good quality chain to replace this. I'm not really on a quest for analog mojo or "warmth," though being able to achieve those types of sounds *if I want to* would be a great plus.

I'd like a good preamp with a good cost:quality ratio, that is fairly clean by default, and has a decent amount of headroom. Despite their reputation in many circles, I've heard the ART Tube MP ($40) recommended for this purpose by some pros, Recording Lounge's Kendal Osborne being one example, especially if one will be replacing the tube. It definitely meets the "cheap" criteria, but I'm not so sure...? I've also read some good things about the more expensive ART Pro MPA-II ($300), which seems to be in the class of ART products that, like the ART Pro VLA II, is pretty well-received. I don't really need two channels at this point (and don't really see myself needing that anytime soon), but the price is good. FMR's Really Nice Preamp ($400 to $475) is another, and more expensive, option that seems, well, really nice. I wish they had a cheaper mono version.

For the EQ, I only need something that can adjust general tone. I mean, I'd probably be alright with, say, a fixed low-shelf, a semi-para mid, and a fixed high-shelf, as long as the design choices gave me a decent range. It will primarily be for pre-compression sibilance / air and bass control. I was basically just looking at the Golden Age EQ-73 ($300), which seems to be about the best thing under $500. Since I'm not necessarily needing a character EQ, I would have no problem going with -- in fact, I'd love to go with -- something cheaper as long as it sounds good.

Finally, for the compressor, I just need something that can lightly squeeze things to bring vocals, bass, and sometimes guitar under control, and maybe bring some punch out too. Again, I don't really need a "mojo" compressor, but I wouldn't mind it, as long as it can be fairly transparent on more conservative settings.

There are a lot of compressor options in my general price range. At the bottom of the price range, there's the FMR RNC ($175), the RNLA ($225), and the ART Pro-VLA II ($300). The RNC seems like it'd be a nice, transparent, simple compressor for tracking, though the RNLA appears to be the better option for gently squeezing and controlling dynamics, and, going by video demos, its sound and approach is more attractive to me. The Pro-VLA II seems very nice for the price, and it seems to be a favorite of Tape Op, et al, though I've heard some (rather vague) statements about it not being good for tracking, which I don't know what to make of. I like that all three of these are stereo (or dual channel in the ART's case), as it would be nice to have a decent stereo hardware compressor that I could use for other purposes -- though this is not essential.

The next step up price-wise, I'm looking at the Golden Age Comp54 MK2 ($400), the Golden Age Comp-3a ($500), the Warm Audio WA76 ($600), and the Klark Teknik 1176-KT ($600). All four are single channel, and, from what I can tell, all four sound impressive. The Comp54 is enticing because of its much more extensive controls, but is also the one I know the least about. The Comp-3A is the lightest on curve control, but I love what limited experience I have with the general LA-3A sound, and what it does to vocals and such. Both 1176 clones seem amazing, and it's the classic choice for bass and such, but I'm a little concerned about their ability to get more transparent sounds when desired. I'm also not completely sure on the pros and cons between the two brands' takes.

The more expensive compressor options are very enticing, and all four of them have that vintage gear allure, yet I'm wondering if that's what I really need for my purposes, if I'll really gain a lot from that. I know this particular question isn't one any of you can answer for me, but I'd love to hear opinions on it.

There is another option that comes to mind: the ART Pro Channel II. Okay, yes, it's ART again, which some people love to hate (maybe rightfully so? I've never owned their gear), but its tempting with its $300 price tag, its built-in pre-amp, compressor, and parametric EQ, and its insert options that would allow me to bypass certain components to replace them later. Feedback on this seems mixed: some people love it; some people hate it; some people have no problems with it; some people have buzz and noise problems (always hard to tell whose fault this sort of thing is though; in one case, the person having the problem seemed to completely misunderstand what their power conditioner was good for); some people call it transparent; some people say it kills your sound, swapped tubes or not. While I don't expect that its compressor is going to give me 1176 magic, or that its EQ is going to color my sound like a 1073, do you think that this would fit my needs, and that it would sound good (in a subjective or "won't destroy the source" objective way)?

Channel strip option aside, I will probably get each component individually over a few months, starting with the preamp, and then mostly likely going to the compressor.

tl;dr: what would you recommend as budget to mid-range options for a pre > EQ > comp tracking chain?

Thank you!
Old 10th January 2017
  #2
Pre and EQ: maag or AEA 500 series
Comp: inward Brute

Around the same price and you get a decent quality bump.
Old 10th January 2017
  #3
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Pre and EQ: maag or AEA 500 series
Comp: inward Brute

Around the same price and you get a decent quality bump.
Thanks for the response! Those look nice, but are a lot more expensive (e.g. the Maag Pre is $850), especially with the initial required investment of getting into the 500 format (which I know would probably be a good longterm investment).
Old 11th January 2017
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by scutheotaku View Post
Thanks for the response! Those look nice, but are a lot more expensive (e.g. the Maag Pre is $850), especially with the initial required investment of getting into the 500 format (which I know would probably be a good longterm investment).
Yes, but the maag and Aea pres both have basic tone-shaping... so you wouldnt need an eq.

It's not too much more money if you think of it that way, and you get added portability and easier expansion.
Old 11th January 2017
  #5
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Yes, but the maag and Aea pres both have basic tone-shaping... so you wouldnt need an eq.

It's not too much more money if you think of it that way, and you get added portability and easier expansion.
Yeah, that's a good point. It does end up being a fair amount more, especially with the rack, but it is an investment of sorts. I'm not sure if I'll go this way, but do you have any recommendations for affordable 500 racks / boxes?
Old 11th January 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by scutheotaku View Post
Yeah, that's a good point. It does end up being a fair amount more, especially with the rack, but it is an investment of sorts. I'm not sure if I'll go this way, but do you have any recommendations for affordable 500 racks / boxes?
I bought the vintage king rack. Sometimes they do sales where if you buy a certain amount in 500 series you get the rack for free.
Old 11th January 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 

You can find a Presonus ADL 700 for $850. Built like a tank, world class sound. I'd rather have one super solid piece than string together a bunch of budget gear.

DBX also makes high end channel strips that are affordable in the second hand market.
Old 11th January 2017
  #8
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yummerz View Post
You can find a Presonus ADL 700 for $850. Built like a tank, world class sound. I'd rather have one super solid piece than string together a bunch of budget gear.

DBX also makes high end channel strips that are affordable in the second hand market.
Thanks for the response!

I'll be on the look out for the Presonus. It's $1500 new and I'm not seeing any used ones for under $1200 at the moment.

Is their more expensive gear a lot better than their cheaper stuff though? I've heard very mixed things about their sub-$500 channel strips and such. I was looking at their Studio Channel, but was put off by some of the feedback.

---

Also, thoughts on the Joe Meek ThreeQ, and also the more expensive SixQ2?
Old 11th January 2017
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by scutheotaku View Post
Thanks for the response!

I'll be on the look out for the Presonus. It's $1500 new and I'm not seeing any used ones for under $1200 at the moment.

Is their more expensive gear a lot better than their cheaper stuff though? I've heard very mixed things about their sub-$500 channel strips and such. I was looking at their Studio Channel, but was put off by some of the feedback.

---

Also, thoughts on the Joe Meek ThreeQ, and also the more expensive SixQ2?
The Presonus stuff generally sucks, unless you are talking about the ADL branded gear. All the Anthony Demaria stuff is great, but clean.

The new Joemeek stuff sounds different from their older stuff. The pres on the new racks are really bad. Very noisy. The comps and eq are very colored tho; great fun and very useful on bass and drums. I have a TwinQ and an older brick.

I'm not sure about the cheaper Joemeeks and how they compare to the oneQ and twinQ.
Old 14th January 2017
  #10
Here for the gear
The UA LA-610 will cover a lot of bases
Old 15th January 2017
  #11
Gear Head
Just to chime in a lil bit on the orig post ... GAP is a nice pre for the money. As is the warm audio stuff. Check out the wa12... And for 600, the tone beast is great as well. Also they have a wa12 mkii coming soon I believe, that adds an output attenuate. The GAP eq can only be used as an insert, just to keep in mind.

For an all in 1 solution u could check out the dbx676 channel strip. It has a tube pre that can be relatively clean or driven into warmth / crunch. A decent eq section, a nice, VERY flexible compressor.

Another thing to look into might be a few pieces of nodded gear. A producer friend of mine has a few modified pieces from revive audio including their modded Art pro vla2 which sounds GREAT imo. He also has their nodded GAP73 which he says sounds a lot smoother than the stock, but I haven't heard it myself

Just tossing some ideas around. Good luck

Last edited by Kwic_Draw; 15th January 2017 at 02:54 PM.. Reason: Adding info
Old 16th January 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
The Presonus stuff generally sucks, unless you are talking about the ADL branded gear. All the Anthony Demaria stuff is great, but clean.

The new Joemeek stuff sounds different from their older stuff. The pres on the new racks are really bad. Very noisy. The comps and eq are very colored tho; great fun and very useful on bass and drums. I have a TwinQ and an older brick.

I'm not sure about the cheaper Joemeeks and how they compare to the oneQ and twinQ.
I haven't used it but the RC 500 is supposed to be pretty good.
Old 21st January 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 

I've owned a number of these things.

I preferred th GAP 73 pre to the ART tube mp. The MP was a bit too noisy for me.

Also FMR RNC is good but I much prefer my wa76. They are obviously not the same kind of comp but I think the wa76 is the better buy despite being many times more expensive

EQ wise I have an Amek 9098 which is great, it also has a built in pre-amp so may be worth considering an eq with a pre amp built in? I'd say the pre amp is probably the least important out of the three so maybe put your money into the comp and eq first. Others may disagree though...
Old 23rd January 2017
  #14
The key here is you mention you want warmth, analogish....so all the clean stuff is off the table...and you want individual pieces so no channel strips..

ART MPA&VLA combo $600 but you dont need dual channels. and still missing the EQ.

how about a Lindell 18xs into a 17xs?
Transformer in and out pre, with EQ> Compressor. Used $1200. new $1800 ...Maybe 500 series is a lot cheaper?

500 series is probably the best deal. right?

Last edited by ZEF; 23rd January 2017 at 02:06 PM..
Loading mentioned products ...
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