The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Good compressor on a budget
Old 11th November 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Good compressor on a budget

I'm looking to buy a decent compressor under $350 (new/used)

I have looked at several ones, but has heard a bunch of reviews ranging from "OHHHH man that thing kicks ass, and the sound is so crisp and clear, with a great punch" to "OH that thing SUCKS SO MUCH, I use is as a coffee coaster now".

I do understand perfectly that buying a KICK ASS compressor at this price range is nearly impossible, but I want to find a best one in this price range, the ones I looked at so far:

DBX 266XL - mixed reviews, from being great, to sounding very cheap, and having clicks and pops
BBE MaxCom - mostly good reviews with few bad ones, saying it's very mediocre. It has a Sonic Maximizer knob, that I know nothing about.
DBX 286A - mostly good, some bad, but with a big drawback: the setting are click based, and you might run into the problem if the setting you need is between 2 clicks
TC Electronics C300 - Looks very nice, but I'm not sure what is the difference between a digital compressor (C300 is digital( and an analog one. (Is it a bad thing). In one of the reviews I read that it's better than DBX 266, 166, and holds its' own with DBX 1066.
ART PRO VLA II -
Haven't heard any reviews yet

Anyone has any other suggestions, opinion?


P.S. what are your thoughts on DBX 1066?
Old 11th November 2009
  #2
Gear Nut
 

It depends on where you intend to use it and what do you want to get from compressor at the end.

This is actually the reason why some say the unit in question says "kicks ass" the other one says "sucks". Simly the unit is good for one application and doesn't suite anotyher one.

From my experience I can say ART pro VLA is reeeeal nice with the bass and acoustic guitar

DBX are very good for drums

One more thing. To have the tools that can do it all you need at least two compressors - one VCA the othe Opto.

You can find good prices on compressors on ZZounds.com


Cheerz!!
Old 11th November 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vijsolo View Post
It depends on where you intend to use it and what do you want to get from compressor at the end.

This is actually the reason why some say the unit in question says "kicks ass" the other one says "sucks". Simly the unit is good for one application and doesn't suite anotyher one.

From my experience I can say ART pro VLA is reeeeal nice with the bass and acoustic guitar

DBX are very good for drums

One more thing. To have the tools that can do it all you need at least two compressors - one VCA the othe Opto.

You can find good prices on compressors on ZZounds.com


Cheerz!!
Yeah man Zzounds.com is awesome.

I know what you mean about having 2 compressors, but right now I have to bite the bullet and find a gold middle ground. I need a compressor for vocals (Rap, singing, etc), bass, electro guitar, drums.

Basically one compressor do it all package, I def understand that certain compressors do better things for certain musical elements, but I don't have that money to spend right now.

I checked out FNR RNC compressor, but what sucks is the fact that it's a weird shaped piece of gear, and I don't know how to attach it in my rack, lmfao...stupid reason I know, but I def want something that is right there at the reach of my hands, next to the other things.


My ultimate question is this to anyone reading it:

Is FNR RNC the best compressor in this price range, or can I go for something else with very similar or nearly identical results.

I'm looking for something clean, it can have character, or be transparent, but I want it clean and punchy (but not brittle), and that the noise level/interferences be to a minimum.

Come on slutz, I have looked in thousands of threads, and I still get mixed reviews, I want to know from experience
Old 11th November 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
 
ears2thesky's Avatar
The RNC is the best sounding compressor in your price range.
There is a adapter available that makes it possible to mount two FMR units side by side in a standard rack.
Old 11th November 2009
  #5
fmr rnc- clean but not much else going on

vla- smooth, hard to pump. gread on some things.

dbx163- can be had for 30 bucks. go get one. you will thank me.

ASHLY CL50- does awesome smacky stuff for snare. can be very close to some settings with a distressor.
Old 11th November 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ears2thesky View Post
The RNC is the best sounding compressor in your price range.
There is a adapter available that makes it possible to mount two FMR units side by side in a standard rack.
Hah! BUT I have to buy 2 then

Quote:
Originally Posted by shaneoconnor View Post
fmr rnc- clean but not much else going on

vla- smooth, hard to pump. gread on some things.

dbx163- can be had for 30 bucks. go get one. you will thank me.

ASHLY CL50- does awesome smacky stuff for snare. can be very close to some settings with a distressor.

Thanks for the tip. I def want more control than the DBX163 though, I looked for ASHLY CL50, but I can't find where the buy it, how much do those things run?


Does anyone have experience with BBE MaxCom?
Old 11th November 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
jproc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
DBX 286A - mostly good, some bad, but with a big drawback: the setting are click based, and you might run into the problem if the setting you need is between 2 clicks
think you have the wrong model number - 286A is a mic preamp, which happens to have a compressor circuit built in....
it's not really designed to be a stand-alone compressor...
nor are any of the settings on the ones I have click-based....
Old 12th November 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jproc View Post
think you have the wrong model number - 286A is a mic preamp, which happens to have a compressor circuit built in....
it's not really designed to be a stand-alone compressor...
nor are any of the settings on the ones I have click-based....
No clicks, nice!

I knew it was a pre-amp, but it still falls under compressor category.

I'm actually leaning towards DBX 160a now, I see A LOT of good reviews, plus I have heard that compressor myself, and I think I'll rather save money and buy something good, than buy something average and buy again.
Old 12th November 2009
  #9
Lives for gear
 
David C.'s Avatar
 

Yeah, the RNC works great but it is odd shaped and has the wall wart.

I recently picked up a dbx 160xt and love it. You can get the various 160's on ebay for around two bills.
Old 12th November 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David C. View Post
Yeah, the RNC works great but it is odd shaped and has the wall wart.

I recently picked up a dbx 160xt and love it. You can get the various 160's on ebay for around two bills.

Good thing you brought that up, what's the difference between XT and A versions, new one is DBX 160A, the old one is 160XT, what's the deal here?
Old 12th November 2009
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

160xt. Go there. After, if you want nice buss/stereo comp on the cheap, get an Orban 424A and have it recapped = sweeeet. Forget all those cheapo dbx's...they're all shite. Even the 1066 is a weirdly furry thing.....can be fun on mashing up breaks, but only if the fur happens to be the desired flavour....and 266 = utter crap.
Old 12th November 2009
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
Good thing you brought that up, what's the difference between XT and A versions, new one is DBX 160A, the old one is 160XT, what's the deal here?
Different output electronics. Always liked xt best.....both nice though.
Old 12th November 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
160xt. Go there. After, if you want nice buss/stereo comp on the cheap, get an Orban 424A and have it recapped = sweeeet. Forget all those cheapo dbx's...they're all shite. Even the 1066 is a weirdly furry thing.....can be fun on mashing up breaks, but only if the fur happens to be the desired flavour....and 266 = utter crap.

Would you care to explain the difference between DBX 160a and DBX 160xt?
Old 12th November 2009
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
Would you care to explain the difference between DBX 160a and DBX 160xt?
Mr Jim Williams says this:

"160X's use LF353 and LF351 opamps, dbx 2150 vca's and the dirty unbalanced output circuit. 160XT's added a couple of 5534's for balanced outputs, cleaner than the dirty unbalanced outputs which are still provided. 160A's are the same but with 5532 opamps. 160A's also have the non-linear capcitor timing circuit so they respond to fast attacks quicker."

So I guess, I like the sound of the 5534 outs and the slower attack circuit the most.......
Old 12th November 2009
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Mr Jim Williams says this:

"160X's use LF353 and LF351 opamps, dbx 2150 vca's and the dirty unbalanced output circuit. 160XT's added a couple of 5534's for balanced outputs, cleaner than the dirty unbalanced outputs which are still provided. 160A's are the same but with 5532 opamps. 160A's also have the non-linear capcitor timing circuit so they respond to fast attacks quicker."

So I guess, I like the sound of the 5534 outs and the slower attack circuit the most.......
Hmmm....so my guess it goes like this:

DBX 160xt > DBX 160a > DBX 160x ?

There is a DBX 160SL too, is it part of the same legacy, def a different price range (LMFAO....about $2,500 more)

eBay.com.sg: DBX 160 SL Blue Series Stereo Compressor - A1 condition (item 290281809482 end time Sep 25, 2009 17:08:55 SGT)
Old 12th November 2009
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
Hmmm....so my guess it goes like this:

DBX 160xt > DBX 160a > DBX 160x ?

There is a DBX 160SL too, is it part of the same legacy, def a different price range (LMFAO....about $2,500 more)

eBay.com.sg: DBX 160 SL Blue Series Stereo Compressor - A1 condition (item 290281809482 end time Sep 25, 2009 17:08:55 SGT)
I'd just get an xt, but the differences aren't massive saying that. The SL is a different kettle of fish/cost.....lol......some more other options at that price range as well......
Old 12th November 2009
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Lifted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
I'd just get an xt, but the differences aren't massive saying that. The SL is a different kettle of fish/cost.....lol......some more other options at that price range as well......

Hey, thanks a LOT man, I appreciate your advice
Old 12th November 2009
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
Hey, thanks a LOT man, I appreciate your advice
Good luck and have fun!
Old 13th November 2009
  #19
RNC and RNLA fit the price quite well and are very useful for me. I see Symetrix 501 compressors for sale and they are a clean unit and have a good value as a used compressor. Do you need out-board gear specifically, or will in-the-box stuff work? How about the Focusrite Liquid Mix 16---only $200.00 now with great compressor plug-ins. The Ashly CL and Rane stuff are also good used buys. I sold an Ashly CL a number of years ago and wish I had just kept it. A very good tool that retains its value.
Old 23rd December 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vijsolo View Post

One more thing. To have the tools that can do it all you need at least two compressors - one VCA the othe Opto.




Cheerz!!
That's probably the best advice on compressors I've ever heard. Finally, of all the bull^*&% tossed around this website sometimes, somebody comes through and and actually say something. Vijsolo, you've probably bought me another 6 months on this website. Cheers!
Old 23rd December 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
 

I'd take a VLA over a 160 any day, but maybe that's just me...
Old 23rd December 2009
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifted View Post
P.S. what are your thoughts on DBX 1066?
It's very fast, very precise and very agressive, some folks hate it, I happen to like it a lot.
Old 26th December 2009
  #23
Lives for gear
 
CZ101's Avatar
 

Aphex 651 (which I got turned on to by some prominent posters' postings here at gs)... You can still find these for under $200. Based on your criteria listed - clean, low noise, but with a touch of character, or shall we call it, "size??" - I think it would make you happy.
Old 26th December 2009
  #24
Lives for gear
 
antichef's Avatar
I saw someone selling two Symetrix 525 units in the classifieds - I've got one, and it seems good to me - truthfully I don't use outboard compression very much, but for the money, why not pick one (or both) of them up?
Old 26th December 2009
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Rednose's Avatar
definitely NOT the 266XL.
I have one and use it for my practice PA.
I've tired it in the studio and it went right back in the PA rack.

Try looking for a DBX 166 (not XL).
An old school one.
I got mine recapped and it sounds good next to my 160 VU and 903s.
Old 29th December 2009
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
I'd take a VLA over a 160 any day, but maybe that's just me...
Anyone else feel the same? Different?

I always thought the dbx 160a/xt/etc etc was generally considered better, particularly for hip hop vocals.
Old 6th January 2010
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Just I'd throw th RNC compressor into the ring. For the price - awesome. After sales service- you can't do better than corresepond directly with the guy who makes the units. Mine adds colour, depth, whatever I want.
Old 6th January 2010
  #28
Lives for gear
 
doncaparker's Avatar
 

Thumbs up on the RNC, thumbs down (against the current, I know) on the ART Pro VLA.

I know a lot of people on here have the opinion that ART sells great bang for the buck gear. However, I have now owned 2 different ART products (MPA Gold and Pro VLA II) and there was something wrong with each one. Not a great track record on quality control.
Old 6th January 2010
  #29
Lives for gear
 
88fingerz's Avatar
 

Choosing or not choosing a compressor based on it's "shape" doesn't strike me as good sound thinking.
Old 6th January 2010
  #30
Gear Nut
 

1st choice--dbx160 x (xt) or a (I dont really know the difference between models to be honest but Im sure you could find out real quick...edit* actually Its right here in the thread if I woulda read better)

2nd choice--- Art Pro VLA 2.

In your price range of course, I just picked up an Art Pro VLA w/NOS tubes (worthwhile upgrade) and when it gets here I will tell you what I think of it .....after a week or two of experimentation.

I will be using it on vocals, heard mixed reviews for the VLA on vocals so I'm interested to see where I lay on the subject....I know try before you buy, not an option for me, I live in the damn tundra practically.

Last edited by hiphop24360; 6th January 2010 at 11:24 PM.. Reason: overlooked post.
πŸ“ Reply
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…
πŸ–¨οΈ Show Printable Version
βœ‰οΈ Email this Page
πŸ” Search thread
♾️ Similar Threads
πŸŽ™οΈ View mentioned gear