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FMR RNC vs RNLA vs PBC6A vs ART VLAII vs DBX 160X on vocals? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 24th December 2010
  #31
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
Can you speak a little bit more specifically about how the PBC shapes tone?

I've spent the last 15 years getting to the point where I marginally understand compression for dynamics, but this whole compression and tone business seems like next level stuff for me, likely it'll occupy my next 15 years. I'd like to get started as soon as possible...
take a listen to the clips at Mercenary Audio - Professional Audio Recording Equipment and Advice to hear the PBC in action
Old 24th December 2010
  #32
Gear Nut
 

Let's see... I've never used the RNLA, and it's been a while since I've used a DBX160x, so no comment there.
RNC can be very transparent, but can sound thin when pushed hard. It can be great for background vocals, not my first choice for lead vocals. IMO best for stereo subgroup level control rather than "hearing" the compressor - can thin things a bit and seem to add a slight bit of shimmer, which is why I like it for background vocals subgroup.
PBC-6A is the most versatile of the bunch. It has a bit of a "sound" (thick? gooey?) but that can be very subtle depending on how you use it, and will only be obvious in a mix if you want to make it that way.
Art VLAII has a sound as well (opto + tubes), maybe not a first choice for vocals, but it will work. Quite often a first choice for guitar subgroup. Definitely nice for the money if you want something you can always hear working.
I'd pick the PBC6A as first choice if you're only getting one compressor primarily for vocals, and it's great for just about everything. It is only a mono unit (the RNC & VLAII are stereo) and costs over 2x those units, but it's still a great value.
The Aphex is one of the best compressors around for transparent level control. The usual quote (I think from Jim Williams quoting some big studio guy) is, "It's like a little man controlling the fader who's faster & better at it than I ever could be." NOT a character unit, but if you're just looking for a single-channel level controller, even for big level variations, that you won't hear, this is the one for you.
All of these are amazing for the money that they cost, and all can work.
Old 24th December 2010
  #33
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
So should I, uhm, pm you my address so you can send me one? Make it two, I like to work in stereo!!!
Well, I would if I could. Yes, the world would be a better place if I were a rich man!
Old 24th December 2010
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
Can you speak a little bit more specifically about how the PBC shapes tone?
Well, rather than trying to dance about architecture I'll offer up some sound samples. The first sound file below plays back the same four kick hits four times. The first time around there is no compression, second time through is the RNC, next the Overstayer and finally the PBC.

I'm not trying to match settings or sounds here simply giving an example of how each compressor changes the tone and envelope of the sound. Each has a different sound yes? The lowend impact changes as does the ambient 'bloom'. Even if I tried to meticulously set each compressor to produce a similar sound you would still be able to tell the difference (unless they were only doing miniscule amounts of compression). More importantly; when I grab the knobs of each box and start searching for the sound I want they each lead me down different paths to arrive at something. The only real way you'll gain any meaningful understanding of a compressor is to use it yourself over time on a variety of material.

Now since you were interested specifically in the PBC here's a second sound sample. This time it's just the PBC each time through the same four kicks with different (rather extreme) settings.
Attached Files

Comp - comparison.wav (1.68 MB, 1838 views)

Comp - PBC medley.wav (1.43 MB, 1785 views)

Old 24th December 2010
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparqee View Post
The only real way you'll gain any meaningful understanding of a compressor is to use it yourself over time on a variety of material.
Old 24th December 2010
  #36
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparqee View Post
Well, rather than trying to dance about architecture I'll offer up some sound samples. The first sound file below plays back the same four kick hits four times. The first time around there is no compression, second time through is the RNC, next the Overstayer and finally the PBC.

I'm not trying to match settings or sounds here simply giving an example of how each compressor changes the tone and envelope of the sound. Each has a different sound yes? The lowend impact changes as does the ambient 'bloom'. Even if I tried to meticulously set each compressor to produce a similar sound you would still be able to tell the difference (unless they were only doing miniscule amounts of compression). More importantly; when I grab the knobs of each box and start searching for the sound I want they each lead me down different paths to arrive at something. The only real way you'll gain any meaningful understanding of a compressor is to use it yourself over time on a variety of material.

Now since you were interested specifically in the PBC here's a second sound sample. This time it's just the PBC each time through the same four kicks with different (rather extreme) settings.

Fantastic! Thanks for making the effort to upload those clips.
Old 24th December 2010
  #37
Lives for gear
The PBC seems like the most 'explosive' sounding compressor in that example. I really like the squishyness of the overstayer, though.
Old 24th December 2010
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
The PBC seems like the most 'explosive' sounding compressor in that example. I really like the squishyness of the overstayer, though.
Admittedly that example of the Overstayer was a bit extreme (blend set at 100% wet). I normally run the blend knob at 3/4 dry (on drums).
Old 25th December 2010
  #39
Lives for gear
haha yea, I dunno if it's practical, but I think my taste in drum compression so far gravitates toward messing with the attack and duration of the sound in very unnatural ways.
Old 26th December 2010
  #40
Gear Addict
 
gumby1220's Avatar
just ordered myself a second VLA II and will be ordering the PBC or funk logic's rnc rnla combo in February still undecided on which of the fmr products to get. both have their advantages being PBC great overall compressor from what everyone says, or have to different compressors rnc and rnla in one package.
Old 26th December 2010
  #41
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Gumby, how do you usually use your VLA 2?
Old 26th December 2010
  #42
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gumby1220's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
Gumby, how do you usually use your VLA 2?
normally i use it during mixing, and occasionally use it during tracking. during mixing it usually gets placed on drums for parallel compression (print compression to new track) and then i use the vla 2 on vocals. every now and then i'll use it on bass and guitar as well. ordered the second unit that way i have more outboard channels of compression and if i feel like using it on more then just a couple tracks i can with minimal printing(hassle).

really the only thing i don't prefer the vla 2 on is the stereo/master buss. sometimes it's alright though, but on drums, vocals, bass, and guitars it sounds great.
Old 27th December 2010
  #43
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Cool
Old 27th December 2010
  #44
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gumby1220's Avatar
let me know what you decide on. as i am still up in the air with my future purchase in february between the pbc or rnla/rnc combo
Old 27th December 2010
  #45
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Eloheim's Avatar
 

Since for once I actually have first-hand knowledge of what the OP is asking about, I figured I should chime in.

The RNC is a good, safe comp for vocal tracking. To me it works great for keeping levels under control a little and not being too intrusive.

The RNLA sounds fantastic (kinda warm+fuzzy) on many vocalists, but on others it sounded a little over-"characterized." I dig it with my Sm7b.

The DBX160A can sound really professional in some situations, but often times it ends us sounding overly "bloated" in the mids for some reason. Also, as I'm recording overwhelmingly rapping, this comp has problems with too slow a release when dealing with sudden spikes in G.R.

I guess the fact that I'm referring to recording rappers in all these situations may make a difference, as the delivery is probably quite a bit faster, with more sibilance/consonants, and often less overall dynamic variation.

Peace.
Old 28th December 2010
  #46
Lives for gear
Thanks for sharing your experience Eloheim.

gumby1220, I have arranged to get a pro vla ii, and was trying to get my hands on an aphex 651, but some jerk (the same guy) sniped *all* four 651 auctions ending today and bid up to my maximum on another one ending in a few days

The only fmr piece I'm considering at this point is the pbc-6a. I actually had an rnc for a little while, but sold it for some rent money. I'm kind of intrigued by what I hear about the RNLA, but apparently both compressors have some issues with bass frequencies, and that turns me off. I know you can change the attack and release settings to make them not distort on bass notes, but I'm pretty sure there are other compressors with comparable speeds that do not distort on bass-heavy sources...
Old 28th December 2010
  #47
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changeng's Avatar
Yeah, I followed that auction - I bet you the same f$#@er will be putting them up for sale in two weeks. You can also try musicgoround.com - i've found some great stuff there and you dont' have to wait for an auction to end.

i used my 651 on a drum buss last night and DAMN it's good for that too.

If you're jonesing for a stereo comp, you might wanna check into a Symetrix 522 - not bad at all and you can change the opamps which cleans things up a smidge. Usually less than a Benjy on Ebay.
Old 28th December 2010
  #48
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gumby1220's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience Eloheim.

gumby1220, I have arranged to get a pro vla ii, and was trying to get my hands on an aphex 651, but some jerk (the same guy) sniped *all* four 651 auctions ending today and bid up to my maximum on another one ending in a few days

The only fmr piece I'm considering at this point is the pbc-6a. I actually had an rnc for a little while, but sold it for some rent money. I'm kind of intrigued by what I hear about the RNLA, but apparently both compressors have some issues with bass frequencies, and that turns me off. I know you can change the attack and release settings to make them not distort on bass notes, but I'm pretty sure there are other compressors with comparable speeds that do not distort on bass-heavy sources...
ah nice you won't be disappointed with the vla II, and thanks for your input on the rnc
Old 28th December 2010
  #49
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by changeng View Post
Yeah, I followed that auction - I bet you the same f$#@er will be putting them up for sale in two weeks. You can also try musicgoround.com - i've found some great stuff there and you dont' have to wait for an auction to end.

i used my 651 on a drum buss last night and DAMN it's good for that too.

If you're jonesing for a stereo comp, you might wanna check into a Symetrix 522 - not bad at all and you can change the opamps which cleans things up a smidge. Usually less than a Benjy on Ebay.
I ended up winning one of those 651s today, I hope it works! good price if so, I think. I haven't really been following prices on these, though, just wanted to compare it to my other comps, selling one of my two RNCs to fund it. I can let you guys know how it stacks up. what do these 651s seem to go for, on average?
Old 28th December 2010
  #50
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changeng's Avatar
they usually go fro around $150 in working condition. the "discount" for it possibly not working wasn't worth it to me. i would most definitely send it in to Jim Williams for his mod. It's a ridiculously transparent unit as-is and Jim takes it to another place. even if yours doesn't work, I'm sure Jim could fix it while he mods it. most definitely worth what you paid.

it's only mono tho, so you're down a channel.
Old 28th December 2010
  #51
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monkeyxx's Avatar
cool thanks! I am pretty fascinated by the Jim Williams idea, want to send him my 760X preamps, too
Old 28th December 2010
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I ended up winning one of those 651s today, I hope it works! good price if so, I think. I haven't really been following prices on these, though, just wanted to compare it to my other comps, selling one of my two RNCs to fund it. I can let you guys know how it stacks up. what do these 651s seem to go for, on average?
It must have been one of the first ones? Congrats

... I will have to keep trying. They sound like an amazing deal.
Old 28th December 2010
  #53
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changeng's Avatar
Hey monkeyxx - I seem to remember you were going to modify a Symetrix 501 - did you do it? I was going to recap a 522 and a 501 but never got past changing out the opamps - minor clarity improvement.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #54
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I never got as far as recapping or adding bypass capacitors (decoupling or whatever the next idea was) either, I just swapped in opamps on a few of mine, with mixed results, and stopped there

I put LM4562NA into my greenish grey square pushbutton 501 and it sounds fine, I couldn't tell much of a difference either. The same op amps in my dark grey toggle switch 501 oscillated (I guess this where the mods come in) and added an extraneous buzz to the signal, so I had to put the old op amps back in. the LM4562NA were ruined from the process, I think, it made them noisy.

you know, I wonder if a full on mod would make me love these any more? I like them pretty well as is, but maybe it would make a difference

I think I'm just going to devote my energy to building 1176 and SSL copies. I might send the Aphex to Jim Williams to get an idea of what a full mod can do to a cheap compressor. if so I'll report back, whenever that may happen
Old 2nd January 2011
  #55
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nowaysj's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
take a listen to the clips at Mercenary Audio - Professional Audio Recording Equipment and Advice to hear the PBC in action
SPICY. Okay, I get it there is no subtlety there! (that is a good thing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyreels View Post
Well, I would if I could. Yes, the world would be a better place if I were a rich man!
And a belated thanks guys, I think I was unsubscribed to this thread for some reason.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #56
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changeng's Avatar
monkeyxx - DO IT.. Send one in to Jim and you'll be a happy monkey. did your unit arrive and if so, does it work?
Old 2nd January 2011
  #57
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monkeyxx's Avatar
hasn't arrived yet. if it doesn't work then I'll most likely be having to send it somewhere! comparisons to FMR dbx and ART comps to follow
Old 3rd January 2011
  #58
ALS
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ALS's Avatar
 

for anyone that needs a recall sheet for the VLA II I have one that I have posted here for download.
Old 13th January 2011
  #59
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Currently use the PRO VLA II for vocals and I'd describe the character as "ROUND & SMOOTH" on the top end. No "clean" but also not "aggressive" say as would be described in the "classic Dbx" sound...Attack and release settings work well and the stereo imager in dual operation is a great bonus. All and all worth more than the asking price.
Old 13th January 2011
  #60
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UPRYZ's Avatar
I've got the RNC, VLAII, and 160 and have used all 3 on vox. All 3 are very useful and great deals. The RNC, as many have already said, is very transparent. It wouldn't be my first choice for any vocal style that needs to be in your face or where you're looking for some character. It is wonderful for some gentle invisible gain riding. VLA is great on vox but a little more sluggish than the others and starts to sound obvious beyond 4 db reduction. DBX 160 never sounds bad IMO and can handle a great deal of GR before it sounds distracting. Its also wonderfully easy to use with good metering. That would be my choice.
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