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Best cheap compressors (hardware) in 2019?
Old 1st May 2019
  #61
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
I have and really like the 1978. Very flexible, sounds great, prive/performance is unbelievable. What you wanna do with it? 2bus compression?
Yeah I'm looking at something for the 2bus. The 1978 seems to have, as you said, some flexibility/ shaping capabilities. The price is pretty good and it seems to be well regarded.
Old 1st May 2019
  #62
Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
Yeah I'm looking at something for the 2bus. The 1978 seems to have, as you said, some flexibility/ shaping capabilities. The price is pretty good and it seems to be well regarded.
That said, I have never used it on the 2bus, it lives on my substereo for drums and bass. But I'm sure it will work great on a full mix. Sure, VCA comps like SSL or API are a classic there for a reason, but with the Drawmer you have complete freedom with your ratios and timing. The character switches can be useful, the saturation, if not overused, is cool, the sidechain EQ very unique and powerful and you have a mixknob right on the unit for parallel compression. Given the quality and price, really what's not to like?
Old 1st May 2019
  #63
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
I’m gonna go a little geek on ya’ll. I have an Aphex Compellor on my 2 buss and while it’s transparent and really levels things out it’s slow and pumps with more aggressive material. I’ve been looking at the Audioscape Gcomp based on the SSL Gbuss, but the original SSL used the DBX 202 VCA which is no longer available. Audioscape is using a THAT VCA which would mean 2180a more than likely. So any Comp with the 2180a and 553x opamps should come close to the Audioscape, unless I’m missing something that the side chain does that’s unique to an SSL. I looked at the schematics and it’s a super simple input and output stage with a VCA stuck in the middle. I don’t see why people say the SSL’s have so much “spank” blah blah blah unless it’s an older 202c model.
Old 1st May 2019
  #64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
I’m gonna go a little geek on ya’ll. I have an Aphex Compellor on my 2 buss and while it’s transparent and really levels things out it’s slow and pumps with more aggressive material. I’ve been looking at the Audioscape Gcomp based on the SSL Gbuss, but the original SSL used the DBX 202 VCA which is no longer available. Audioscape is using a THAT VCA which would mean 2180a more than likely. So any Comp with the 2180a and 553x opamps should come close to the Audioscape, unless I’m missing something that the side chain does that’s unique to an SSL. I looked at the schematics and it’s a super simple input and output stage with a VCA stuck in the middle. I don’t see why people say the SSL’s have so much “spank” blah blah blah unless it’s an older 202c model.
I think Thats have more spank than the dbx goldcans. An SSL isn't a supercomplicated circuit, but the sidechain (gain reduction, not frequency which SSLs don't have) is important. Basic GSSLs used the “turbo“ card, Chris directly implemented on his board in the Audioscape.
Old 1st May 2019
  #65
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
I think Thats have more spank than the dbx goldcans. An SSL isn't a supercomplicated circuit, but the sidechain (gain reduction, not frequency which SSLs don't have) is important. Basic GSSLs used the “turbo“ card, Chris directly implemented on his board in the Audioscape.
Great comments. I have replaced all my DBX 2150 VCA’s with 2180’s. I have several comps with the Valley VCA and still prefer the 2180’s. I’ve never heard a DBX 202. I was so close to buying the Audioscape about a week ago. I just look at the schematics and think it’s very close to a lot of DBX based designs. I also tend to swap out 553x’s with OPA134 series or LME479x0’s. Depends what I’m trying to achieve. So to shorten the story, I wonder if a KT DN500+!hot rodded would meet my needs for a 2 buss compressor at a 1/4th of the price? It won’t have the HPF though and that’s a nice feature on the Audioscape.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #66
Gear Head
Bought a DBX 128 for a full $100.. Let's just say it beats all of my plugins if you wanna SMASH things. LOVE the expander function on drums, it thickens up anything... And it's even stereo. This was before DBX turned into crap (mostly), and it's similar to the arguably best one the DBX 160 VU except those go for like $800 now.

DBX made some others like the DBX 118 and since they are not named "compressors" (technically they are for tape noise reduction) the hype is not really there, but the sound of these old units are fantastic.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
Great comments. I have replaced all my DBX 2150 VCA’s with 2180’s. I have several comps with the Valley VCA and still prefer the 2180’s. I’ve never heard a DBX 202. I was so close to buying the Audioscape about a week ago. I just look at the schematics and think it’s very close to a lot of DBX based designs. I also tend to swap out 553x’s with OPA134 series or LME479x0’s. Depends what I’m trying to achieve. So to shorten the story, I wonder if a KT DN500+!hot rodded would meet my needs for a 2 buss compressor at a 1/4th of the price? It won’t have the HPF though and that’s a nice feature on the Audioscape.
Nothing but love for the Audioscape around here. I don't have one myself, but some fellows I trust and they like it. Hpf is a great addition!
Old 2nd May 2019
  #68
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
Nothing but love for the Audioscape around here. I don't have one myself, but some fellows I trust and they like it. Hpf is a great addition!
When you read the literature on Audioscape, he seemed a bit reluctant to want to add the HPF. To me, that’s what sets it apart. I’ve had some email conversations with him and he answers all my questions. I have nothing but positive regard for him and all the others that are building affordable gear for us to use. I’m finally at a place financially that I can look at gear in his price range seriously, but it’s still a nice chunk of change.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
When you read the literature on Audioscape, he seemed a bit reluctant to want to add the HPF. To me, that’s what sets it apart. I’ve had some email conversations with him and he answers all my questions. I have nothing but positive regard for him and all the others that are building affordable gear for us to use. I’m finally at a place financially that I can look at gear in his price range seriously, but it’s still a nice chunk of change.
Well, but then it's a price range substantially lower than the big names. Be sure to check out my SSL bus comp shootout if you haven't. No Audioscape, but an original and a Stam vs. four plugins.

SSL Bus Comp Shootout (SSL X-Rack, Stam SA-4000+, Duende, Slate, Waves, bx_townhouse)
Old 2nd May 2019
  #70
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
Well, but then it's a price range substantially lower than the big names. Be sure to check out my SSL bus comp shootout if you haven't. No Audioscape, but an original and a Stam vs. four plugins.

SSL Bus Comp Shootout (SSL X-Rack, Stam SA-4000+, Duende, Slate, Waves, bx_townhouse)
Totally agree with the price. I can entertain gear priced from $500 to $1200 now. That was unheard of for me 5 years ago. I’ve always bought used and modded. It’s kinda weird looking to buy something an put it in the rack and be done with it.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
Totally agree with the price. I can entertain gear priced from $500 to $1200 now. That was unheard of for me 5 years ago. I’ve always bought used and modded. It’s kinda weird looking to buy something an put it in the rack and be done with it.
I say “Enjoy“ then... ;-)

But I also stress the fact conversion is important if you use hardware with an ITB environment because you won't get much benefit from hardware without good converters. From your profile it seems you're on a board, though.
Old 3rd May 2019
  #72
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSchlomo View Post
I say “Enjoy“ then... ;-)

But I also stress the fact conversion is important if you use hardware with an ITB environment because you won't get much benefit from hardware without good converters. From your profile it seems you're on a board, though.
Motu 828es and 16a for 24 I/o. Both have the ESS sabre 32 ultra DAC’s. Both have been very stable with zero issues. I run Reaper with them. My front end are all Symetrix SX202’s. Two of which were modded by Jim Williams. I’ve have 16 channels total and all will eventually be modded by Jim. Everything in my studio has been or will be modded in some form or fashion. I also have an MCI JH16 and an MCI JH110B. They will get recapped but probably left alone as far as op amps. If I’m using those I want that sound. I’ve got everything I need to track and mix 24 channels of audio. If I combine tracks ITB it’s endless. I’m gonna set up a 16 channel mobile recording studio for live recording in my area and try to create my own nitch market. I can setup separate from the house with a 6 rack space case and a laptop and capture 16 sources. Then mix it down in my studio at the house. Live albums at an affordable price. I’m hoping it’s attractive to bands because they can play through a set in one sitting and come away with an entire album. I’ll let the market dictate the price. I don’t even know what to charge.
Old 3rd May 2019
  #73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
Motu 828es and 16a for 24 I/o. Both have the ESS sabre 32 ultra DAC’s. Both have been very stable with zero issues. I run Reaper with them. My front end are all Symetrix SX202’s. Two of which were modded by Jim Williams. I’ve have 16 channels total and all will eventually be modded by Jim. Everything in my studio has been or will be modded in some form or fashion. I also have an MCI JH16 and an MCI JH110B. They will get recapped but probably left alone as far as op amps. If I’m using those I want that sound. I’ve got everything I need to track and mix 24 channels of audio. If I combine tracks ITB it’s endless. I’m gonna set up a 16 channel mobile recording studio for live recording in my area and try to create my own nitch market. I can setup separate from the house with a 6 rack space case and a laptop and capture 16 sources. Then mix it down in my studio at the house. Live albums at an affordable price. I’m hoping it’s attractive to bands because they can play through a set in one sitting and come away with an entire album. I’ll let the market dictate the price. I don’t even know what to charge.
Sounds awesome. I'm a big fan of live recordings, too. Doing it on location is also cool because many bands without years of recording experience get nervous in the studio. Recording them in their familiar space not only saves them money, but eventually lets them sound better. Sure, a great sounding room for drums is hard too beat, but if it fits the music, a live recording of a well reharsed band in their rehearsal space or on stage can easily beat a technically better sounding studio production.
Old 4 days ago
  #74
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axisdreamer's Avatar
I just bought an Klark Teknik DN504 really cheap with some bad ch's but one working ch.I am going to look into trying a Cinemag transformer in some of the ch's to see if it will give it more mojo warmth..Has anyone ever compared the DN504 with and without transformers? I was told that even with the stock transformers the unit still doesn't produce much mojo.I never used this box so this will be a fun project..
Old 2 days ago
  #75
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by axisdreamer View Post
I just bought an Klark Teknik DN504 really cheap with some bad ch's but one working ch.I am going to look into trying a Cinemag transformer in some of the ch's to see if it will give it more mojo warmth..Has anyone ever compared the DN504 with and without transformers? I was told that even with the stock transformers the unit still doesn't produce much mojo.I never used this box so this will be a fun project..
I have 2 of these and both are transformerless. I bought them because KT comps and EQ’s are known for doing their job and you not knowing they’re there. They use the DBX 2150a VCA and the 553x op amp in the audio path. One I had modded by Jim Williams and it lives on drum OH’s, kick and snare. 4 DBX style compressors that can be 2 stereo compressors or 4 mono’s, has selectable hard and soft knee, in one rack space is hard to beat at a $100 to $150 price point used. If you’ve popped it open it has provisions for both input and output trannies. They come up on EBay sometimes. All the DN KT stuff uses them. I have 2 DN27a’s that have them and they’re still very transparent. I don’t call that lack of mojo though, I call it good clean compression that doesn’t destroy the original sonics of the source.
Old 2 days ago
  #76
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axisdreamer's Avatar
So the one that Jim did,is it less noise and clean with an open top end? Do you think it improves the sound over the stock version? just curious... I am still going to see if I can improve the sound with transformers ..Thanks!
Old 1 day ago
  #77
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by axisdreamer View Post
So the one that Jim did,is it less noise and clean with an open top end? Do you think it improves the sound over the stock version? just curious... I am still going to see if I can improve the sound with transformers ..Thanks!
The one Jim did is cleaner, less distortion, and I can get much more compression out of it before the Sonics go south. He has an Audio Precision which is maybe a $50k piece of test gear to test for noise and distortion. So anything sent to him is optimized for the lowest noise and distortion. I’m OTB so I want the lowest noise and distortion I can get because of the cumulative affect when your mixing through 24 to 32 console channels with EQ inserted and compression across all of it. It’s very hard to send something off, get it back in 2 weeks and then try to judge how it sounds sonically different. My test is if I can get more compression without the music sounding dark and muffled. I very much prescribe to Jim’s way of engineering which is let the musician create the mojo and I’ll capture it and not distort it. I don’t want to derail this thread but the “mojo” I hear and want from compressors is the volume increase and detail increase from the music being louder in a compressed dynamic range. Not the compressor sonically changing the audio into something it wasn’t. So “mojo” to me is clean, low noise, linear audio that’s been compressed to bring out the detail and make it fit in a mix. That’s what I feel like I get from Jim’s mods. Adding color with transformers is probably the best way to get what your looking for if that’s what you mean by Mojo. I’d still have Jim mod it before you start playing with trannies. You’ll know your starting with the highest audio quality prior to coloring it.

What are you using the KT on? Mine are solely on drums. OH’s, kick, snare, and toms. The OH’s have a modded KT DN22 after and the individual drums have modded UREI 535’s after. I send the entire drum mix to a subgroup which has a modded DBX 166 on it for parallel compression. No EQ after. I feel like the magic comes from the slow increase in volume from light compression that’s not squashing the transients. I compress with the DBX 166 pretty hard and then slide it up until it starts to pop through and then pull back just a hair. I have other compressors across bass, guitars, and vocals.
Old 1 day ago
  #78
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axisdreamer's Avatar
I didn't get my DN504 yet,Its being shipped to me now..I also have had Jim Williams do a few pieces for me over the years..He did My Quantum audio labs console upgrades which I also upgraded the output transformers to Cinemag and it opened up the high end and he also did my echo II plate reverb electronics that were connected to my emt 140 plate reverb which I put new pickups on because it had none when I bought it.... both times Jim's work sounded great.. I love warm transformer sound because I was raised on it I guess you could say..I have always used consoles and grew up in the times of reel to reel tape in studio's, its what I started out on.. so yes mojo or warmth is always what I am going for...I use a really cool old Electrodyne 712 pre/eq with a total of three transformers in it as my main mic pre for most things and love it..I has an Auditronics 110 24 ch console for many years and now have an old Toa RX7 transformer based console...Love my transformers!!


as far as Compressors, I don't have many at the moment..I love my Distressor and have used it for many years ..also have a JLM LA500 which was a kit that someone else did and I am still trying to work the bugs out of the build of it so I cant use it yet..also have an old MXR duel limiter but that almost too dirty for some things...I sold a few other compressors a while back when I was out of work and in between jobs, so I need more compression and thought the dn504 could work for my now limited budget for gear... I am no longer a studio open for business but do my own projects and love to write songs and record them because I play all of the instruments myself..
Old 1 day ago
  #79
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
I think you’ll like the DN504 with your tastes. It has all metal film resistors and starts with 5532’s in the audio path. I mix through a highly modded Soundcraft 400b and have a Soundcraft 500 in my garage I’m about to start in on. I also have a 77 MCI JH16 that I’m restoring and I mix to an MCI JH110B. So based on what you just wrote we have similar experiences and similar tastes. I like trannies but in certain areas. All my compressors are transformerless, however, the 535’s have outputs and so do both the KT DN27a’s and they’re strapped across the mix buss. I have a KT DN22 and a White Instruments 4200a also. Both of them and the KT 27a’s are inductor EQ’s so the audio is going through some metal there. I’m probably just going about my iron a little different than you. I try and keep it out of my console and compressors because they get used on every mix and if I don’t want it I’m stuck. When I start tracking to the JH16 everything that goes through it will have some tranny love. The JH110 has trannies also. So I have them, just in places I can remove them if I need to. I can track and mix 100% in a transformerless domain or plug and play where I want it. Keeps me versatile.
Old 1 day ago
  #80
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axisdreamer's Avatar
very cool, I use to have an MCI jh16 the older one with the all ac motor transport.no longer have it now... I also love inductor eq's.. I am giving some thoughts to getting a DN27 all inductor eq.. not that I need anymore of them but ..hehe
Old 1 day ago
  #81
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
There’s a 27 and a 27a. I have the 27a. I actually have 3. Two have transformers and are on the mix buss, the 3rd is not in the rack and it’s transformerless. It’s a lot of EQ for individual instruments. I’ve gone to 10 bands for stereo sources and individual instruments. I get by with the console EQ with guitars and never need more. It’s mainly drums and vocals I use outboard EQ with.
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