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FMR RNC vs RNLA vs PBC6A vs ART VLAII vs DBX 160X on vocals? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
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FMR RNC vs RNLA vs PBC6A vs ART VLAII vs DBX 160X on vocals?

Ridiculously long title says most of what there is to say. To people who have used these units, especially more than one, how would you say they treat different vocal styles? What are the differences in sound? Any posted clips would be greatly appreciated
Old 19th December 2010
  #2
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Also, are any of them noticeably noisier or less noisy than the others if you crank the make-up gain?
Old 20th December 2010
  #3
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Also curious about the aphex 651
Old 20th December 2010
  #4
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

My experience:

RNC: really clean on vocals. I like regular mode best. Great for light comping. I don't care for it with heavy compression, it becomes really obvious in a not as pleasing way. It a absolutely amazing for live use.

RNLA: love it for vocal tracking. The tone is pleasing with heavier gr. Not for everything.

DBX 160x: Has that "DBX" sound (I hate to explain it like this, just don't know how else to say it), which is subtle. I like the sound for country vocals, esp. male. I would say it's the noisiest of the 3 with lots of make up gain. If you set up your gain staging and threshold properly you shouldn't need too much make up.

I only own these 3 ov the 5 you asked about. I give all three 2 thumbs up for tracking vocals, especially just lightly catching peaks on the way in. I track often with these when digital, always to tape.
Old 20th December 2010
  #5
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Jimsi's Avatar
 

I agree with this as I own 4 of the 5 you mentioned. I like the Fmr pbc-6a the best for vocals, it will make your final mixing soo much easier and vocals (mine do at least) seem to sit in the mix very well without alot of eq tweeking...I like the dbx 160a on backing vox as well as the rnla(and acoustic guitar) ... the rnc is great for clean guitar with 1.5 to 2:0 ratio compression ratio, oh you didnt ask about guitar, my bad...have great week...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyreels View Post
My experience:

RNC: really clean on vocals. I like regular mode best. Great for light comping. I don't care for it with heavy compression, it becomes really obvious in a not as pleasing way. It a absolutely amazing for live use.

RNLA: love it for vocal tracking. The tone is pleasing with heavier gr. Not for everything.

DBX 160x: Has that "DBX" sound (I hate to explain it like this, just don't know how else to say it), which is subtle. I like the sound for country vocals, esp. male. I would say it's the noisiest of the 3 with lots of make up gain. If you set up your gain staging and threshold properly you shouldn't need too much make up.

I only own these 3 ov the 5 you asked about. I give all three 2 thumbs up for tracking vocals, especially just lightly catching peaks on the way in. I track often with these when digital, always to tape.
Old 20th December 2010
  #6
Gear Nut
 

I've used the dbx 160x and the Aphex 661 (newer model of the 651). For general vocal use I would go with the 661, it is very transparent and does very large amounts of natural-sounding gain reduction, especially in auto-fast mode. It works so well I hardly ever go into manual mode. The 661 includes a tube drive on the output stage, which IIRC, is variably inversely proportional to the gain reduction. It has some other interesting features you don't normally see like hard/soft knee and a take on their own "sidechain high-pass" filter. Practically no noise to speak of.
The 160x is kinda the opposite... it lets a fair amount of attack through and has this 'rock and roll through a big PA' sound. Good for in-your-face kind of compression. Less aggressive but still not transparent in Overeasy mode.
Old 20th December 2010
  #7
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There is no debate here, pbc-6a by far. I've got a vla II, RNC and a PBC, I wouldn't consider using anything else for vocal compression both tracking and in the mix.
Old 20th December 2010
  #8
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
I like the Fmr pbc-6a the best for vocals, vox as well as the rnla(and acoustic guitar) ... the rnc is great for clean guitar with 1.5 to 2:0 ratio compression ratio, oh you didnt ask about guitar, my bad...have great week...
I had to stop myself from commenting on acoustic guitar duties as well. I record mostly songwriters and use these comps with acoustic as often as vocals. I love my Guild D-25 > sm81 > Grace m101 > RNLA > 003. "low end heaven" (lol)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kodaz View Post
There is no debate here, pbc-6a by far. I've got a vla II, RNC and a PBC, I wouldn't consider using anything else for vocal compression both tracking and in the mix.
I keep reading lots of love for the pcb-6a, I'm gonna have to check one out when I can.
Old 20th December 2010
  #9
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petsematary's Avatar
 

The RNC can't do dual mono afaik. Correct me if i'm wrong.
That's kind of a bummer.
Old 20th December 2010
  #10
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Janesaid2me's Avatar
RNC does only have one setting for both channels but for that price just get two LOL
Old 20th December 2010
  #11
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The RNLA is good at smoothing edgy sounds. If you need to do a lot of compression and want to brighten it up then put an EQ on the side chain insert. Now days I use it mostly on certain snares and occasionally on harmony vocals.

Can't say enough about the PBC. Thick and smooth. I haven't used anything else on lead vocals since I got it. I keep meaning to try out my Overstayer on vocals but I just can't bring myself to take the PBC off.

RNC.... I consider it a tool for controlling dynamics rather than a tone shaping tool. Yes, you can push it into an "obvious state of compression" but I don't really care for it's sound when it goes there. I honestly prefer the sound of several of my plugins over the RNC but I do still occasionally use the RNC as a "safety" peak limiter during tracking. I also have it on my to do list to try using it as a bass ducker (e.g. kick into the side chain). That being said I would use the RNC on vocals before a dbx box. I just never cared for the dbx sound. <shrug>
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparqee View Post

RNC.... I consider it a tool for controlling dynamics rather than a tone shaping tool. Yes, you can push it into an "obvious state of compression" but I don't really care for it's sound when it goes there.
Well said.

I do like the DBX sound though. I have the 160x. I used to have a 119. I really liked it to but I gave it away cause I just never used it. I had the the address ov a gs member from the free stuff thread and sent it to him without him knowing. He had stated before how much he wanted one. Made my day to make his.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
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Thanks for all the opinions so far! If you feel that a comp mentioned excels at some task beside vocals, I welcome you to say so, just as long as you also say something about what it can do for vocal tracking.

It seems like the PBC-6A is the vastly popular choice out of what I've listed. I'm a little surprised nobody has said anything about the VLA given how much buzz it's gotten in the past.
Old 20th December 2010
  #14
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post

It seems like the PBC-6A is the vastly popular choice out of what I've listed. I'm a little surprised nobody has said anything about the VLA given how much buzz it's gotten in the past.
I keep thinking I need to get the VLA. If it's as good as people say, it's a hell ov a deal. I'm trying to be patient with my purchases. Having a RNC, RNLA, & 160x, I feel like I have enough "stepping stone" comps that I hopefully won't ever outgrow. It's easy to get caught up in thinking you need them all. With my semipro/hobby studio I just don't need them all. Want them all - well, that's another story! heh
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
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Jimsi's Avatar
 

true, easy to get caught up in buying things not needed...i do it alot

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyreels View Post
I keep thinking I need to get the VLA. If it's as good as people say, it's a hell ov a deal. I'm trying to be patient with my purchases. Having a RNC, RNLA, & 160x, I feel like I have enough "stepping stone" comps that I hopefully won't ever outgrow. It's easy to get caught up in thinking you need them all. With my semipro/hobby studio I just don't need them all. Want them all - well, that's another story! heh
Old 20th December 2010
  #16
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gumby1220's Avatar
i have a vla II but have never used any fmr products and haven't used the 160x before either. but i do love my vla II and will be getting a second one along with a pbc based on the reviews on this site
Old 21st December 2010
  #17
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I own all of them except the PBC-6A, which is on the wish list. on vocals I usually end up using the VLA II. I use the FMRs and dbx on other stuff that's usually not vocals, but the RNC sounded pretty cool the one time I tried it.
Old 21st December 2010
  #18
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digibiu's Avatar
 

Well, I bought 2 of the PBC-6A's not long after they came out. I never got around to racking them, bought a couple of old ramsa consoles around the same time, that I have been wiring into the bay. Saw this thread and decided to rack one of em up for a session last night. Very timid but angelic female singer, so I thought it would be a good test, tracking with the pbc. Wow, gooey is the word that comes to mind. I LOVE what it did on her voice. I had it going through the distressor also to compare, and I much prefer the pbc over the distressor on this particular voice. Man, now I wish I would have racked them up sooner.
Old 21st December 2010
  #19
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It's good to experiement

I don't usually compress acoustic guitar much but I was working on an upbeat number last night and decided the guitar was a little too jangly so I tried one of my PBC's on it. Perfect match. Just tickling 6db of gain reduction on the meter. Wow! That guitar sat so much better in the track. It kind'a sat down in it's seat and filled the space that I wanted it in. Before the PBC the guitar was jumping out and demanding too much attention.

Before getting to the PBC I also tried my Overstayer (didn't like what it did to the attack of the guitar), The RNLA (closer but still kind'a meh..) and the Waves LA3A (put the guitar in it's place but didn't give it any polish).
Old 21st December 2010
  #20
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Talking

Whole lotta love for that pbc-6a! I have a feeling it might cost a whole lotta money in 20-30 years if the world hasn't imploded. Better start saving up now...
Old 21st December 2010
  #21
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Well.... since I'm in a gushy mood: I really like how you can fit three PBC's in a single rack space. My main rack is just about full and I really don't want to clutter up my studio anymore so I appreciate how space efficient the FMR comps are.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #22
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nowaysj's Avatar
 

Extremely limited experience with outboard comps, but I can say that I really like what the vla ii does with voice. Smooth is the word I use to describe it.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #23
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Jimsi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
Extremely limited experience with outboard comps, but I can say that I really like what the vla ii does with voice. Smooth is the word I use to describe it.
I never tried the VLA II but i always thought it looked extremely nice and sexy...there are alot of them here loving the VLA on GS...I have the PBS-6 and it's extremly whats the word? Homely looking, but its a realy smooth compressor with lots of body...can distort nicely too, i tried acosutic guitar as one member suggested with a few -db shaved off and it sounded great, will try that in my next session and see how the acosutic lays in the mix...thanks
Old 23rd December 2010
  #24
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gumby1220's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
Extremely limited experience with outboard comps, but I can say that I really like what the vla ii does with voice. Smooth is the word I use to describe it.
smooth is a good description
Old 23rd December 2010
  #25
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PBC-6A +
Old 23rd December 2010
  #26
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changeng's Avatar
been using the Aphex 651 with the Jim Williams mod for a while now - it's pretty astounding how much you can push and not actually hear it working. I haven't heard the PBC, but I can't imagine it's any more efficient for vocals, or gives anywhere near as much control as the 651 does, especially after Jim reworks it. Plus, it will cost you about $100-200 less, even after you have it modded.
Old 24th December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by changeng View Post
been using the Aphex 651 with the Jim Williams mod for a while now - it's pretty astounding how much you can push and not actually hear it working. I haven't heard the PBC, but I can't imagine it's any more efficient for vocals
I would say the point of the PBC is that you *do* hear it. When used sparingly it can be subtle and even transparent (in small doses), but audible tone shaping is where the PBC really shines. Admittedly, if what you want is a super transparent "dynamic controller" then the PBC should not be your first choice.
Old 24th December 2010
  #28
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nowaysj's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparqee View Post
audible tone shaping is where the PBC really shines.
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...
Old 24th December 2010
  #29
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dustyreels's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nowaysj View Post
Can you speak a little bit more specifically about how the PBC shapes tone?
In me humble opinion, I would suggest playing around with one. Explaining tone shaping is subjective. Even if it's not the pcb-6a specifically, try playing with whatever comps you can borrow or steal (just kiddin'). Every comp behaves and sounds different. These behaviors/sound differences range from subtle to extreme. For learning the ropes ov compression (sounds like you have), it's hard to beat the RNC because of it's transparency. The "fully parametric" controls are perfect for understanding how it all works. The RNLA would be a good choice for using the same basic controls for understanding how they can be used for tone shaping as well.

Quick sort ov off topic question: Was my use ov "fully parametric" proper? I've always wondered this. What I mean by this is threshold, ratio, attack, release, and make up gain. though there can be more or less controls, I find these to be the 5 that control the overall parameters "best."
Old 24th December 2010
  #30
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nowaysj's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyreels View Post
I would suggest playing around with one.
So should I, uhm, pm you my address so you can send me one? Make it two, I like to work in stereo!!!
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