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Best cheap compressors (hardware) in 2019? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 5 days ago
  #31
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
I think your plan is stupid.

Hardware usage is just plain stupid.
Stop trying so hard to win the Mother Teresa Empathy Award. So transparent...
Old 5 days ago
  #32
Gear Maniac
 
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
I think your plan is stupid.

For less money you can have compression ITB including total recall, lookahead, better sound quality, less conversion. Hardware has no - zero, nada - points on the plus side. Raises your electricity bill, you need just another wall outlet, you have to dust the thingie, it can break, and so on and on...

Hardware usage is just plain stupid.

Oh, come on... you prefer the sound of hardware? Thats nothing what a halfway good shrink couldnt free you from, free you from that delusion.
The OP asked about cheap outboard comps. I answered his question. Made it a point to say I wasn’t trying to start a which is better war. I started recording in the late 1990’s. I’m well invested in outboard gear. ITB is the easiest way to get started and the mixes are great. For low noise mixes that have a glass like feel there’s none better. I have considered getting some ITB software but haven’t pulled the trigger. All the ITB software I’ve had in the past is on a hard drive in a landfill on a $2k personal computer that was obsolete 1 year after I built it. So I’m probably a little biased because of my experience watching computers come and go since IBM and Apple were the only two companies selling personal computers. If your ITB and that’s your choice I have no doubt you can produce great quality recordings. However, you are following a thread about cheap hardware compressors so you must have some interest.

Brian
Old 4 days ago
  #33
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdier View Post
Do you run it with a Y cable in/out to the insert point on the RNP?

If you do, there should be no noise. I would call Mark at FMR and ask him about it.
The Y cables and connections are unbalanced. In a high interference environment unbalanced cables can pick up noise. Sometimes a lot of noise.

I’m not saying the RNC produces the noise, it just doesn’t cancel noise picked up in cabling because it is an unbalanced device. Which isn’t a problem in an interference free environment.
Old 4 days ago
  #34
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
 

I am not as technical as you appear to be. I can only speak from my limited experience. My RNC and RNLA never produced noise when used with a y cable and the insert point.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
The Y cables and connections are unbalanced. In a high interference environment unbalanced cables can pick up noise. Sometimes a lot of noise.

I’m not saying the RNC produces the noise, it just doesn’t cancel noise picked up in cabling because it is an unbalanced device. Which isn’t a problem in an interference free environment.
Old 4 days ago
  #35
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
Hardware usage is just plain stupid.
Might be stupid for you. This guy is talking about workflow. Different discussion.
Old 4 days ago
  #36
Here for the gear
 
terryaudio's Avatar
 

Jeez...

Anyways, back on topic.

I'll venture that the Golden Age comp-3A turned out surprisingly great after I hacked into it a bit. It was also great 'out of the box', too. Mainly, it's using modern driver transistors instead of true metal can, more original spec ones, and that was what was causing all the 'wahrmth'.

Driver transistor change
Cap upgrades
Two other slight mods


It's no Mono Optograph but it works great for the price point.
Old 4 days ago
  #37
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niconic View Post
Where I am I can get KT76s for under 160€ new and KT2As for 240
Where is this please?
Old 4 days ago
  #38
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by earwolf View Post
Where is this please?
Most european stores have them for 200 and 300 each. I am a business so VAT is taken out directly on invoice hence the prices I quote. Apparently Thomann don't have them in stock but can deliver in 2/3 weeks.
Old 4 days ago
  #39
I follow this thread with great interest, I don't use a DAW so can always use more decent, cheap compressors. Would sure like a LA2A clone and keep on wondering which one to get when I have the money, would sure like a DBX 160 as well and it's the only true original classic that is within reach for me financially.

The DBX 166XL does a very good job on bass drum and ain't bad on snare either. After I started recording disco stuff from time to time I really needed my bass drum to cut through without eating up so much DB real estate, the 166 has really been a great help in this regard. It's dirt cheap second hand. The gate is also quite nice and flexible, for instance the gate has a sidechain option which sure comes in handy for keeping kick bleed to a minimum if you got a condenser under the snare.

I dig the TL Audio 5021 on lead vocals and bass. I know many people in here love to hate it but I quite like it and don't give a flying **** cause it works for me. Could perhaps get even better with a tube upgrade but havn't tried this yet.

Another option is the Fostex 3070. On snare its surprisingly good for a filthy but musical sound and its also decent on toms. On most other things it does sound like **** though but as it cost less than a night of partying its worth it.

Last edited by WarmJetGuitar; 3 days ago at 10:30 AM..
Old 4 days ago
  #40
Gear Nut
 

Wow, thanks a lot Brian for these super useful infos, and for taking the time, that's exactly the kind stuff I'm looking for.
Finding "out of fashion" old pieces and have some modded seems like a good way to go at least for a set of basic comps
(even for the sake of recycling instead of buying new stuff all the time...)
Are the symetrix in the same family as the Dyna-mite 410?
Jim Williams is not an option for me as I live in Europe.
Haven't done much practical electronics since college, but I can solder and have some electronics/physics background. Time to take the soldering iron out..
The DIY kits look great too (Hairball, Sound Skulptor, Capi 526...) also probably be more solid/reliable in the long run than the cheap clones.
I've used dbx (and similar) comps in live settings and I'm sure they sound great if you keep them at certain tasks.
I don't have the knowledge to design my own mods yet...but I could replicate others.
I'm not sure which are the websites or communities on the net to find some litterature about it, I guess GroupDIY looks like the place to go?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
I chose many moons ago to stay OTB so keep in mind I do not have any experience with plugin comps. I have found Symetrix, Ashly, and DBX stock comps to be usable as long as you don’t try for more than 4 or so DB of compression. If you have them modded then that changes. I have 2 Klark Teknik DN504’s I track with behind Symetrix SX202’s. Two of which I had Jim Williams mod and I couldn’t be happier with them. Nice clean transparent pre’s. The KT’s are transparent as well and will be going off to Jim to complete my recording chain. If your not gonna mod yourself or have some of these comps modded then you may be disappointed. Here’s a list of what I have:
(2) KT DN504’s
(2) Ashly SC 55’s (blueface)
(2) Ashly SC 50’s (1 blue, 1 black)
-both modded by me
(2) DBX 163x
-both modes by me
(1) Symetrix 522 (Revive modded)
-Valley People VCA
(1) Symetrix 525 (Revive modded)
-Valley People VCA
(1) Symetrix 501 (stock Valley VCA)
(2) Symetrix 501 (stock DBX VCA)
(2) DBX 166 (older colored knobs/stock)
(1) Aphex 651 (Jim Williams mod)
- absolute vocal crusher
- stupid to not have one or more
(1) Ashly CL50
(1) Ashly CL52

I use all these in every mix. Either on the inserts of individual input modules or stereo on a group for NY compression. I’m finishing up my Soundcraft 400b with a recap and new op amps and a power supply. Then I’m gonna start building Hairball comps and maybe some of the JLM comps. If you go 500 series the sky is the limit and the kits are a little more reasonable. The rest of the comps I have that are not modded will be modded by me or someone else. I wish I could estimate how much money and time I’ve invested but I don’t really know.

Here’s some food for thought though:

All the comps listed are 30 to 40 years old and completely usable. Even more so after they’ve been modded. How many plugins that you have now will you still be using in the same amount of time. And I’m not making a case or arguing which is better, just saying a good outboard comp can last a lifetime, plugins change with technology. Choose wisely. Read what can be done to make them better. Can you buy them cheap, pay to have them modded and come away with a nice compressor? My experience has been YES. And now that I have a bunch of good clean “general purpose” comps I’m gonna start building classic clones. Here’s a pic of my set up.

Brian

PS: I have other EQ’s I’ve found useful as well as some preamps for instruments. All modded or scheduled to be modded.
Old 4 days ago
  #41
Gear Maniac
 
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niconic View Post
Wow, thanks a lot Brian for these super useful infos, and for taking the time, that's exactly the kind stuff I'm looking for.
Finding "out of fashion" old pieces and have some modded seems like a good way to go at least for a set of basic comps
(even for the sake of recycling instead of buying new stuff all the time...)
Are the symetrix in the same family as the Dyna-mite 410?
Jim Williams is not an option for me as I live in Europe.
Haven't done much practical electronics since college, but I can solder and have some electronics/physics background. Time to take the soldering iron out..
The DIY kits look great too (Hairball, Sound Skulptor, Capi 526...) also probably be more solid/reliable in the long run than the cheap clones.
I've used dbx (and similar) comps in live settings and I'm sure they sound great if you keep them at certain tasks.
I don't have the knowledge to design my own mods yet...but I could replicate others.
I'm not sure which are the websites or communities on the net to find some litterature about it, I guess GroupDIY looks like the place to go?
I’ve learned most of what I know from these pages and then googling educational resources to fill in the gaps. Recapping gear with more modern caps made specifically for audio like Panasonic FM and Nichicon Muse series gives excellent results. Just do value for value except for PSU filtering caps which you can increase to the largest size that will fit. Putting in op amps can/will give excellent results also but circuit redesign may be involved. I’m still learning in that regard. I don’t go with exotic op amps that require lots of rework. You should also know my philosophy on recording is to capture the tone the musician is creating with their instrument/voice as they intended. My recording chain is very transparent with as little color as possible. Color is only added if the MUSICIAN asks for it and it’s part of their creative process. Adding MOJO they didn’t ask for can make you the musician as much or more than them. So I mod and buy with this in mind. Consider that when looking at my gear selections. Low distortion and low noise is the game plan.

I don’t own any Valley People specific gear. The Dynamite and transamp is probably what they’re most notes for as well as the MaxiQ. Four of my Symetrix comps have the Valley VCA in them. They have a slightly different sound than the models that have the DBX2150. They’re all good compressors and I can’t say I prefer one over the other. Aphex makes their own VCA and it’s the quietest least distorted of all according to Jim Williams who’s tested them on an Audio Precision. The rest have the DBX2150 which can easily be swapped for the THAT2180a with nothing more than a soldering iron and removing some componets off pin 4. The older Ashly SC50’s and 55’s use transistor pairs and op amps for the VCA. I don’t completely understand that beast yet but I’ve swapped out op amps for faster low distortion types. I have a blue face and black face sc50 and they both use this design. Later blackfaces than mine supposedly have the DBX2150 VCA. My blackface does not.

My advice is to scower EBay and Reverb and look at different compressors and then google them. Look to see what the modders say about them, not the fad hype posts. The geekslutz will tell you what’s in it and why or not to buy. You can find a lot of older gear with great circuit design and cheap parts that just need to be upgraded. You don’t even have to rework them as much as just use modern low distortion, low noise components. And if your a true geek, you’ll love the process. I typically don’t buy a piece of gear until I’ve seen the schematics. Then I know what it’s capable of.

Brian
Old 4 days ago
  #42
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
I think your plan is stupid.

For less money you can have compression ITB including total recall, lookahead, better sound quality, less conversion. Hardware has no - zero, nada - points on the plus side. Raises your electricity bill, you need just another wall outlet, you have to dust the thingie, it can break, and so on and on...

Hardware usage is just plain stupid.

Oh, come on... you prefer the sound of hardware? Thats nothing what a halfway good shrink couldnt free you from, free you from that delusion.
This is a nice and productive addition to the conversation. Thank you for your participation.
Old 4 days ago
  #43
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mag J View Post
This is a nice and productive addition to the conversation. Thank you for your participation.
I think whiteaxxxe is up for the Miss Congeniality trophy as well as the participation medal you mention. He’s the leader going into the weekend.
Old 4 days ago
  #44
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I think whiteaxxxe is up for the Miss Congeniality trophy as well as the participation medal you mention. He’s the leader going into the weekend.
It's a way of getting attention. Like "Top of the world, Ma!" but minus the machine gun.
Old 3 days ago
  #45
Gear Nut
 

Thanks again, I'm gonna go on the hunt for affordable pieces and find out here if worth it or not. I never noticed the geekslutz section before! :-)
I'll probably also order one or two of these new Klark Teknik 76 clones...cause it's hard to resist at that price, and get my hands on a first diy project...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
I’ve learned most of what I know from these pages and then googling educational resources to fill in the gaps. Recapping gear with more modern caps made specifically for audio like Panasonic FM and Nichicon Muse series gives excellent results. Just do value for value except for PSU filtering caps which you can increase to the largest size that will fit. Putting in op amps can/will give excellent results also but circuit redesign may be involved. I’m still learning in that regard. I don’t go with exotic op amps that require lots of rework. You should also know my philosophy on recording is to capture the tone the musician is creating with their instrument/voice as they intended. My recording chain is very transparent with as little color as possible. Color is only added if the MUSICIAN asks for it and it’s part of their creative process. Adding MOJO they didn’t ask for can make you the musician as much or more than them. So I mod and buy with this in mind. Consider that when looking at my gear selections. Low distortion and low noise is the game plan.

I don’t own any Valley People specific gear. The Dynamite and transamp is probably what they’re most notes for as well as the MaxiQ. Four of my Symetrix comps have the Valley VCA in them. They have a slightly different sound than the models that have the DBX2150. They’re all good compressors and I can’t say I prefer one over the other. Aphex makes their own VCA and it’s the quietest least distorted of all according to Jim Williams who’s tested them on an Audio Precision. The rest have the DBX2150 which can easily be swapped for the THAT2180a with nothing more than a soldering iron and removing some componets off pin 4. The older Ashly SC50’s and 55’s use transistor pairs and op amps for the VCA. I don’t completely understand that beast yet but I’ve swapped out op amps for faster low distortion types. I have a blue face and black face sc50 and they both use this design. Later blackfaces than mine supposedly have the DBX2150 VCA. My blackface does not.

My advice is to scower EBay and Reverb and look at different compressors and then google them. Look to see what the modders say about them, not the fad hype posts. The geekslutz will tell you what’s in it and why or not to buy. You can find a lot of older gear with great circuit design and cheap parts that just need to be upgraded. You don’t even have to rework them as much as just use modern low distortion, low noise components. And if your a true geek, you’ll love the process. I typically don’t buy a piece of gear until I’ve seen the schematics. Then I know what it’s capable of.

Brian
Old 3 days ago
  #46
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soulone82 View Post
The same goes for plug-ins.
Especially when the "whole bunch of cash" you spend it on plugins that get discontinued the year after (Abbey Road)
And the plugs become unusable because they are 32bits and your DAW switches to 64.
Or when you can't use your Pro Tools two years after you bought it cause Avid purposely stops making a driver for the hardware associated with it to force you to upgrade.
Old 3 days ago
  #47
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niconic View Post
Especially when the "whole bunch of cash" you spend it on plugins that get discontinued the year after (Abbey Road)
And the plugs become unusable because they are 32bits and your DAW switches to 64.
Or when you can't use your Pro Tools two years after you bought it cause Avid purposely stops making a driver for the hardware associated with it to force you to upgrade.
This isn't something I've had much problem with, but to be fair, I don't do much updating/upgrading. Once I get a system in place that works and I can flog it for 10 to 12 hours a day without much issue, I tend to leave it alone until I absolutely have to change something.

My current rig is stupid old in computer years. I never connect it to the internet. Software in general has changed over the years but mine hasn't. Driver problems are nonexistent for me because nothing from my interface to my computer to my software has changed in years.

The upside to working like this is that I almost never have to worry about something I rely on becoming unusable all of a sudden because some a**hole in a suit somewhere made a decision on a whim.

Of course, the downside to working like this is when anything (mostly my cpu) ever does die outright, then I'm going to have to replace everything. When I do have to replace my computer I'll have to replace software and interface at the same time. It's going to cost a fortune.

My current rig is almost 10 years old now, so it's only a matter of time.

But still, I can attest to the fact that people tend to upgrade/update entirely too much. Sure the newest Pro Tools (whatever version they're on) does all this neat stuff that my version (7.4 gasp!) doesn't do. My workflow still gets the job done, so clearly I haven't needed all that cool new stuff. It has also paid for itself many times over at this point.
Old 3 days ago
  #48
Gear Maniac
 
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mag J View Post
This isn't something I've had much problem with, but to be fair, I don't do much updating/upgrading. Once I get a system in place that works and I can flog it for 10 to 12 hours a day without much issue, I tend to leave it alone until I absolutely have to change something.

My current rig is stupid old in computer years. I never connect it to the internet. Software in general has changed over the years but mine hasn't. Driver problems are nonexistent for me because nothing from my interface to my computer to my software has changed in years.

The upside to working like this is that I almost never have to worry about something I rely on becoming unusable all of a sudden because some a**hole in a suit somewhere made a decision on a whim.

Of course, the downside to working like this is when anything (mostly my cpu) ever does die outright, then I'm going to have to replace everything. When I do have to replace my computer I'll have to replace software and interface at the same time. It's going to cost a fortune.

My current rig is almost 10 years old now, so it's only a matter of time.

But still, I can attest to the fact that people tend to upgrade/update entirely too much. Sure the newest Pro Tools (whatever version they're on) does all this neat stuff that my version (7.4 gasp!) doesn't do. My workflow still gets the job done, so clearly I haven't needed all that cool new stuff. It has also paid for itself many times over at this point.
This is exactly the same experience I’ve had and why I’ve chosen the path I have. I have a recapped rechipped 1982 console and outboard gear all predating 1990 and as old as the early 70’s. Still works. Still applicable to recording today. It’s all been hot rodded to bring it up to today’s standards, but I’ll have it for years to come.

I just replaced my aging MOTU 1224’s. I threw them in the trash along with the computer I built for them. I’m running a Mac Air with a Motu 16a and 828es. 24 I/o. I paid $990 for the 828 and $1000 for the 16a. Was up and running in 30 min. I use Reaper which is a $50 program. The Mac was $750. $3k for a completely stable system that I’ll have until it breaks. Plan to get another 16a and have 32 i/o and put the 828 in a Mobile rig. I have an MCI JH110B and an Otari MTR 10 I can mix to. I will have an MCI JH16 or JH24 some day. A nice hybrid system that will be very versatile for whatever flavor I’m trying for.

Brian
Old 3 days ago
  #49
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
I just replaced my aging MOTU 1224’s. I threw them in the trash along with the computer I built for them...
I'm running two 1224's with the Black Lion mod along with a 2408 mkII I purchased off Craigslist for one project (I needed the ADAT inputs and I got it for almost nothing). It's rare that I ever need more than 16 I/O so the 2408 mostly just sits idle in my rack. I could sell it, but as soon as I do, I'll need the ADAT ports again. Also I'm kind of a hoarder.

I have a room in my house that looks like an abattoir for aging computers. People know me as the guy who will take that old desktop off your hands when you upgrade. I break them down for spare parts to keep my rig on life support. At this point I can pretty much rebuild a Windows 7 machine from spare parts, one-handed. I'll have to break this cycle at some point, but as it stands I'm still pretty set for the foreseeable future.
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