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Budget compression, is it necessary? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 24th October 2009
  #1
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kesslerjesus's Avatar
 

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Budget compression, is it necessary?

Hey fellas. I was just looking around for a compressor and came across the dbx that everyone seems to suggest, the FMR RNC and the PBC-6A.

I also found some audio samples on the mercenary audio website, that although very helpful in making a decision to buy the compressor, after a comparison between the audio files, seems to present very little effect on the vocals.

Now I know that my untrained ear might be the reason why I don't hear a big difference between these vocal tracks, except for the lower output on some of the thick modes, but from my point of view (a guy with a small budget), it doesn't seem to justify spending over 400 dollars for a compressor.

The subtle differences in those audio tracks could be achieved with a little fiddling with some free rtas or vst compressors that are often included in DAWS. The vocal tracks' wave data seemed very close to each other too.

Can someone please show me a good reason or example between vocal tracks, maybe sitting on a musical track, that might justify purchasing an analog compressor? I would really appreciate it.

Also, I'm not trying to **** on FMR or any other companies that make compressors, I'm simply asking for someone to smack me in the head in order to clear my ears and help me hear the reason as to why people spend money on compressors.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,
the guy with the untrained ear.
Old 24th October 2009
  #2
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If you can't hear a difference then guess what - you won't be convinced of anything. But what I can say is that OTB processing (mostly compression) can take ITB recordings to the next level. There is something really different about OTB compression.
Old 24th October 2009
  #3
Old 24th October 2009
  #4
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Just because I can't hear the difference yet doesn't mean you need to consider it a lost case cash . Thanks for the video quantum, it helped explain the basics of compression.

I tried out the compressors in pt8 though, and it seems that the main purpose of compressing a vocal track would be to tame it (if it's attack is extremely off) or to bring it to a basic level where it seems not to fluctuate too much. Even this doesn't require much compression, although I can't speak for compression of instruments since I've never tried that before. I would imagine compressing an electric guitar, for example, would be very difficult for an amateur.

Now, would it be wise to pay for an analogue compressor though, if you don't require it much on vocal tracks, or do analogue compressors handle their job much better than any rtas would?
Old 24th October 2009
  #5
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As someone who's been checking out otb processing after years of itb only, I'll say that even mid-line compressors like the FMR or chameleon products provide a range of sounds and a clarity & energy that even the best plugs, like UAD's, just don't.

It's not easy to describe, but it is very noticeable, both on single sources and on full mixes.

If you have the cash, buy a few used compressors. If, after some time, you hear no benefit, you can sell 'em and get your money back.
Old 24th October 2009
  #6
I say that the Cl1b plug is hard to beat.
Old 24th October 2009
  #7
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When you are listening to solo'd tracks, it's often very difficult to hear how a compressor is affecting the sound, other than controlling dymanics. It's when it's in the full mix, along with EQ and whatever else, that it becomes more apparent. The real place where you notice is when you are actually mixing and you are looking for a certain sound and only one of your hardware/software compressors will give it to you. The differences can often be 'subtle'. But more often than not that sublty is the thing that makes a vocal or whatever other instrument shine. Mixing is often a game where 1% difference is what puts you over the top.

Besides that, I can honestly say that most of the time it's just easier to get a good sound from outboard compressors. With a lot of plugins, even if they really do sound GREAT, it still takes more time to dial in the sound than it usually does with an outboard compressor. Why? I have no clue. But when you are swamped with work and trying to meet deadlines adn trying to stay in your zone, that ease of use and speed of use can be valuable.
Old 24th October 2009
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kesslerjesus View Post
The subtle differences in those audio tracks could be achieved with a little fiddling with some free rtas or vst compressors that are often included in DAWS. The vocal tracks' wave data seemed very close to each other too.
I don't think you could quantify this statement without doing a shootout between the hardware and software comps head to head.

If you get a couple channels of really good outboard compression, just do what I do: send a track out to them, apply the desired compression, and record them back into DAW on a different track/playlist. TADA! Outboard compression on every track if you want. This also applies to outboard EQ, etc......

There is no discernible difference in this approach or just using hardware inserts on the DAW for my money. I even like this approach better than hardware inserting since I'm in LE, because of loopback correction, I don't have to worry about insert latency.
Old 24th October 2009
  #9
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If you cant hear the difference you would probably be better off with a plugin. I'm a big fan of OTB compression but if your uncertain what you're doing you should probably hold off on the hardware until you have a better understanding of how to use a compressor. You can get the Waves Musicians2 bundle plus the iLok for about $300. The renaissance compressor sounds excellent.
Old 24th October 2009
  #10
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If you cant hear the compressor working then its a great unit! heh
If you cant tell a HW compressor from a software one then thats a different story. I record without compression later to be processed in my DAW.
Old 24th October 2009
  #11
Gear nut
I would first play with the comps you have in the box. Get comfortable with what they do and the sound they have. It may be that you are fine with this. You can also add other comp plugs as there are some very good ones for not too much money. Hw comps are good, but are no necessity for everyone. All depends on the sound you want
Old 24th October 2009
  #12
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonkr View Post
If you cant hear the difference you would probably be better off with a plugin. I'm a big fan of OTB compression but if your uncertain what you're doing you should probably hold off on the hardware until you have a better understanding of how to use a compressor. You can get the Waves Musicians2 bundle plus the iLok for about $300. The renaissance compressor sounds excellent.
You may not be able to hear the compression very well now, but if you stick with all of this madness you will hear what is happening eventually. And once you understand what you are doing to your sound with compression you will most likely want some hardware.

For now, however, I suggest getting a good plug and getting very comfortable with it. For me that was the Rcomp, which I abused for a long time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca$h Marty View Post
...... OTB processing (mostly compression) can take ITB recordings to the next level. There is something really different about OTB compression.
I really began to get it when I started going through a channel strip for my vox. The character that my Trident comp added was unmistakable....it became an intrinsic part of 'my sound'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
Mixing is often a game where 1% difference is what puts you over the top.
You are making a lot of moves right now. You'll find yourself taking large steps in this process as you get comfortable with your gear. Start making some music and see what directions it takes you.
Old 25th October 2009
  #13
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I listened to the samples on the mercenary site as well. Just the vocal samples actually. I heard 2 things. The noise rise, and the singer was really good. I think if they had used a sample where the singers dynamics varied more, you would hear it's effect more, but in the mix, it can make a world of difference.

In my setup, a hardware compressor would be for on the way in. After that, its all about the plugs. It's really not just about dynamics control with hardware. All those components inside that box will add a little something to the sound. With most plugins the only discernable difference will be parameter limits and the GUI, until you start getting into UAD or Waves type stuff that attempts to emulate that hardware effect.
Old 25th October 2009
  #14
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I use ITB compression when I didn't do it right on the way in. Haha. Sometimes I'll go out of my way to go back out just because I can't get the feel any other way. Good converters are a must though!
Old 25th October 2009
  #15
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Insomniaclown View Post
It's really not just about dynamics control with hardware. All those components inside that box will add a little something to the sound.
Old 25th October 2009
  #16
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5down1up's Avatar
 

you can save a lot of times and nervs by going to a studio and let someone show you what a compressor does. takes 10 minutes and its worth it compared to the 5 year long " i am gonna find it out myself " road.

400 buck comp or a plug, i dont know, good luck stike
Old 25th October 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmongstTheLiving View Post
I use ITB compression when I didn't do it right on the way in. Haha. Sometimes I'll go out of my way to go back out just because I can't get the feel any other way. Good converters are a must though!

I have UAD plugs- when I had minimal outboard compression I relied on UAD plug compression a lot.

Now I got 11 channels of decent optical/FET/VCA compression and track with compression, and the only time I run stuff out of the box into outboard is parrallel squashing of say drums for effect, or to warm synth piano etc. Since I have been tracking with decent outboard compression I never use UAD plug compression- and it sounds so much deeper.

Quote:
If you get a couple channels of really good outboard compression, just do what I do: send a track out to them, apply the desired compression, and record them back into DAW on a different track/playlist. TADA! Outboard compression on every track if you want. This also applies to outboard EQ, etc......Soundrick
Na- if you track say a drum kit using say 8 mikes - all with compression- assume 2 overheads and rooms in M/s, tracking with nice elegantly set compression just seems to bring out the depth/3D.

In my experience tracking without compression and then then running tracks out of DAW through outboard compression does not achieve the same result.

I do what you do after having tracked with compression, (ie run a line out through outboard and back in) to do even further eq'ing (even though I eq when tracking) for snare/kick, and do parrallel kick/snare compression.
However, I would simply love to be able to do this in real time so that you can finely tune the snare/kick eq and parrallel compression in context of the mix as well as with buss compression and eq and tape effects on.

GJ
Newcastle/OZ
Old 25th October 2009
  #18
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by asagaai View Post
Since I have been tracking with decent outboard compression I never use UAD plug compression- and it sounds so much deeper.
Same here.

It took quite a while, though, for me to get the confidence to commit. After you spend some time with your plug of choice you'll get to know what you want out of a compressor.

I'm just finishing a tune where I'm using no track compression at all......okay, I did put up a parallel BF76 for some grit on a DI'd electric. But I got the vox just right on the way in and used copious amounts of volume automation on the acoustics.
Old 25th October 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asagaai View Post
...Na- if you track say a drum kit using say 8 mikes - all with compression- assume 2 overheads and rooms in M/s, tracking with nice elegantly set compression just seems to bring out the depth/3D...
I like to presume out of respect for the contexts here ( low end vs high') and re-inject a few notions.
Tracking on your own project, or where gig alows you to take chances.. or you're at the point of already knowing exactly.. is one thing.
That much comp and eq at tracking? That's a fairly well into it.
Old 26th October 2009
  #20
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Empora's Avatar
 

Another thing I think it important to understand is that you cant always judge a compressor by sampling a single source in isolation.

Often I realize a compressors character or attributes when in the context of a mix. For example, it may be that a certain compressor is adding some nice saturation that another on the same settings might not. So when put in a mix, one cuts through better or just has a certain something the other doesn't.
Old 26th October 2009
  #21
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Ca$h Marty's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
I really began to get it when I started going through a channel strip for my vox. The character that my Trident comp added was unmistakable....it became an intrinsic part of 'my sound'.
When I picked up a LA-610, it really opened things up - I use it all the time and bounce tracks through it. Channel strips can be a great addition, what studio (especially home studio) couldn't use 1 channel of nice pre, nice EQ and/or nice comp.

A pair would be even better but hey a budget is a budget!
Old 26th October 2009
  #22
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In my experience. A good outboard compressor can be applied much more liberally than a plug-in. The first time I got to work with a real 1176 I was amazed at how far I could push the needle without hearing the usual pumping I was used to from its virtual counterpart. Of course even a real 1176 will pump and cause unnatural attacks if applied incorrectly (though sometimes that is the desired effect!), but I find I am able to shape dynamics in a way that I had never been able to virtually.
Old 26th October 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca$h Marty View Post
A pair would be even better but hey a budget is a budget!
I'm getting by quite nicely with one strip (Trident 4T).

I use my cheaper chain (VTB-1 pre, RNLA) to good advantage for stereo apps. ........provides some tonal variety.
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