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1 outboard compressor vox Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 6th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 
Rst82's Avatar
 

1 outboard compressor vox

If I were to buy a compressor with vocals and budget in mind what would you guys recommend?

It's my first piece of outboard gear (besides my mixing desk and the 003 rack I have). I use a Rhode NT1000 atm but may look to upgrading to a SM7 quite soon.

So yea next on my list is a good compressor for vox, with pre or without I don't mind as I use the pre's in my desk and really like the warm/dark sound at the moment!

I heard the DBX's are decent for low budget?
Old 6th September 2011
  #2
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JonMiller's Avatar
I'd start with a distressor, it can do almost anything at an acceptable level.

Super Squashed, light compression, peak limiting.

Clean, gritty etc.

Of course if money is an issue, the ART Pro VLA is a nice "first compressor" it's pretty smooth, rolls of some high end of cheap mics, it's hard to get an over squashed lifeless sound out of it, simple controls etc.
Old 6th September 2011
  #3
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DBX 160
Its a keeper
Dont buy anything by DBX that doesnt start with 16
Old 6th September 2011
  #4
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16?....how about my dbx 1066, well anyway I agree for the most part for the dbx line, dont look at the dbx 266 it has some issues...find a used 163X for around $50 on the Bay, its a nice compressor for bass and vox... maybe some of the low end FMR's the RNC or RNLA...Kev said the DBX 160, it's a keeper for sure...
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevbrowne View Post
DBX 160
Its a keeper
Dont buy anything by DBX that doesnt start with 16
Old 6th September 2011
  #5
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Crash's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rst82 View Post
If I were to buy a compressor with vocals and budget in mind what would you guys recommend?

It's my first piece of outboard gear (besides my mixing desk and the 003 rack I have). I use a Rhode NT1000 atm but may look to upgrading to a SM7 quite soon.

So yea next on my list is a good compressor for vox, with pre or without I don't mind as I use the pre's in my desk and really like the warm/dark sound at the moment!

I heard the DBX's are decent for low budget?
What is "low budget" to you? Is there a dollar amount you are trying to not go over that might help with some recomendations?
Old 6th September 2011
  #6
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Rst82's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash View Post
What is "low budget" to you? Is there a dollar amount you are trying to not go over that might help with some recommendations?

Thanks for the reply guys.

$500 is a reasonable limit for me to spend at the moment, I've just spend bucket loads and I'm about to recap/upgrade a TS-12 desk
Old 6th September 2011
  #7
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Old 6th September 2011
  #8
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I agree with the 163. I have a 163a over here that I got for $50...it was worth the money. For me, its actually better for vocals than my 160. If you want to spend more than 50, I would get the 163 and an fmr rnc or rnla and keep the one you like the sound of. Not everybody is a dbx type person. In my experience, its not magical, but it gets the job done without screwing too much up

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Old 6th September 2011
  #9
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for $500 a FMR Pbc-6a or DBX 160a would be a great compressor, a new dbx 160 is what?...$450 and the FMR pbc-6a is around the same price...with the fmr, you have the side freq chain and a crushing compressor, The dbx colors nicely a thick sound and is easy to set up, no attack or release worries, Either would be great...imho...i own both

For little the DBX 163x is the best deal going used for $50 or an Alesis Micro Limiter for the same money, the Alesis ML has a nice FAT Smooth sound, great for final mixes...both good for bass these 2 compressors are not balanced, but with shorter runs of cable, you should be ok...
Old 6th September 2011
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Every time I use my FMR RNLA on vocals I think "why do I not use this every time??". In fact I used it in a session today, and same thing. Like people say it IS colored in that you can hear the compression, but it's not like gritty and changing the signal in a crazy way. To me it just makes things sound like a beautiful professional vocal recording. Today it was an SM7b through it, and I've never had bad luck with that combo, just gorgeous.

I'd DEFINITELY be checking out the PBC-6A. FMR makes top notch gear, and considering how amazing the RNLA sounds, with what I've heard about the PBC I can't imagine it being anything but amazing.

DBXs are nice on a lot of things. I'd still prefer my RNLA.
Old 7th September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
RNC is a great, very low budget "starter" comp. Somewhere there's a quote of the RNC being the best compressor under $2000. And with your stated budget, you can get two of them & still have a few bucks left over

Not only will you get great sounds, you'll get a great education & a very versatile compressor. The values on the controls are quite accurate, and the RNC has proven useful on everything from vocals to drums to stereo program material.

I do love a 160a tho -- i think it kills on bass, I've honestly never turned to it for vocals.

True on "starts with 16".. I have a dbx 266xl: useless. Maybe fun for lo-fi destruction of a drum machine or something, but every time I plug it in it sounds truly awful at any amount of gain reduction.
Old 7th September 2011
  #12
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If doing a project like a CD or EP of a few songs do not change up any of these compressors mentioned, your voice will be so different in color, depth, width etc the project wont flow, it would sound like different vibes all togehter, choose one for the whole project they are that different...my 2 cents in MHO...I like all these compressors talked about here including the RNLA, sometimes mostimes it's hard to choose...I do usualy go with

The PBC-6a, it does not color the sound, its like the RNC, it just crushes, refines, narrows the sound making the tracks stackable in a good way...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jruberto View Post
RNC is a great, very low budget "starter" comp. Somewhere there's a quote of the RNC being the best compressor under $2000. And with your stated budget, you can get two of them & still have a few bucks left over

Not only will you get great sounds, you'll get a great education & a very versatile compressor. The values on the controls are quite accurate, and the RNC has proven useful on everything from vocals to drums to stereo program material.

I do love a 160a tho -- i think it kills on bass, I've honestly never turned to it for vocals.

True on "starts with 16".. I have a dbx 266xl: useless. Maybe fun for lo-fi destruction of a drum machine or something, but every time I plug it in it sounds truly awful at any amount of gain reduction.
Old 7th September 2011
  #13
Gear Nut
 

As much as I like the DBX 160, I generally prefer opto compressors when tracking vocals. I'm also not usually a big fan of ART products, but the Pro vla is an awesome comp for the money, and you get 2 channels which may or may not be useful to you. $300 and maybe some extra cash spent on some nice tubes for it.
Old 7th September 2011
  #14
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bigdig's Avatar
 

starter comp

I am going to interject here and humbly suggest the chameleon labs 7802. It's stereo which is an added bonus, but I actually like it on everything. It really rules on vox and bass. I've messed with them all, and I sold both my distressor and my 7802, and the only one I bought again was the 7802. My holy grail is still the la 2a, but since I'd have to sell my truck to buy one, the 7802 will get ya close.
Old 7th September 2011
  #15
RiF
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I know that the dbx 166XL does not get much love here, but I really like mine. Very controllable, easy if you want it (auto-modes that actually really work!).
Old 7th September 2011
  #16
I have three low-budget comps that work well for me:

1. ART VLA II - stellar gear; absolutely on par with compressors that cost ten times as much after I swapped out the tubes for NOS Mullard 12AT7s. The factory tubes were kind of ....meh.

2. DBX 166 - the original blackface model made in the USA. Really squishy when need be and dynamite on vox.

3. Behringer MDX2200 - I took a flyer on this one simply because a local guy sold it to me for $30. It's a really, really nice sounding compressor with a ton of features.
Old 7th September 2011
  #17
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Jimbo's Avatar
Summit Audio, TLA-50. About $400, used.

Great box for vox!
Old 8th September 2011
  #18
ART VLA 2 ...have had a few of the low end compressors and the VLA has always stood out as the best that I have had so far in my studio. I use it only for tracking vocals. It is almost transparent and can be completely transparent if you are only compressing enough to roll off the peaks. I Added a set of RCA 12AT7 blackplate tubes and they helped. Made the whole sound more detailed and almost erased any coloration.
Old 8th September 2011
  #19
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Dbx 16xx, pb6-c, pro vla I or II... Not in that order though
Old 8th September 2011
  #20
RiF
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I know that everybody loves the ART Pro VLA II, but I would not recommend it as a single nor as the first compressor to buy. It has it's own character for sure, but you'll want to add a VCA-type compressor sooner or later to get more options.
Old 8th September 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiF View Post
I know that everybody loves the ART Pro VLA II, but I would not recommend it as a single nor as the first compressor to buy. It has it's own character for sure, but you'll want to add a VCA-type compressor sooner or later to get more options.
True. One of the reasons I'm a big fan of the RNC -- it can approximate the effect of a slow gooey opto circuit quite admirably, but can also be lightning-fast when you need it to be. While the OP is focused on vocals, we all know that when buying a piece of kit for a specific purpose, it's not very long before it winds up repurposed; may as well start with something versatile if you don't have other gear to fill the gaps.
Old 10th September 2011
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Im really digging my overstayers. I have a fet and a vca. Maybe they just look better then my rnc's...
Old 10th September 2011
  #23
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RusRant's Avatar
 

I like the DBX 166's alot, but if it's you only comp I'd say Art VLA II. Used for about $200, new for $299 is well within your budget.
Old 11th September 2011
  #24
For a $500 budget I'd definitely say the PBC-6A, especially for vocals. I've owned the VLA2 with the stock tubes and NOS mullards. While I think it is a great box, very versatile, the PBC-6A is a firm step up for vocals. The PBC can really slam the vocal in the mix in a way that the VLA can't.
Old 11th September 2011
  #25
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i found it my go to compressor for voclas, i had a session the other week and decided to use my DBX 160 , it sounded good, but was not sitting like the pbc-6a compressed vocals sit, it just gave the vocals a different vibe and seemed to be to spread out in the mix and not nearly as focused as the pbc-6a's vocals...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangeland View Post
For a $500 budget I'd definitely say the PBC-6A, especially for vocals. I've owned the VLA2 with the stock tubes and NOS mullards. While I think it is a great box, very versatile, the PBC-6A is a firm step up for vocals. The PBC can really slam the vocal in the mix in a way that the VLA can't.
Old 11th September 2011
  #26
RiF
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Yes, this is the "Low End Theory" forum, but since I got my Distressor, my ART Pro VLA II, dbx 166XL and Behringer MDX2100 (all good boxes) are collecting dust.
Old 11th September 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
Summit Audio, TLA-50. About $400, used.

Great box for vox!
+1 Great vocal leveler!

Old 12th September 2011
  #28
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

One that you might consider is the Symetrix 501. It's a combined compressor and limiter, with stereo link and sidechain capabilities.

I'm ITB, but I regularly run a compressor and then also a limiter that just catches the big peaks. The 501 would do both.

They are also cheap on ebay.
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