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Tube Compressor -Is it really necessary? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 18th September 2011
  #31
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by foldback View Post
Greetings from a desert isle in the Caribbean (I'm on vacation lol).

I have many compressors including the ART and the Behringer Composer Pro which we use on our broadcast microphones.

The Composer is not inherently noisy. I think the hiss you're hearing is the hiss of your mic preamps being brought up by the compressor.

Ribbon mics are very low output, I'm guessing your mic preamps are hissing because you're running a lot of gain and the compressor is bringing up the hiss. I use a Grace M801 for ribbon mics but that's an expensive unit. I don't have a Shiny Box ribbon mic but I do have several Royer ribbon units and they require a lot of gain.

I'm not sure about the output level of the Rode mic you have, I don't have one of them but since it's a LDC it probably has good output level so you don't need as much gain on it as the ribbon.

Without being there to evaluate your knob settings it's tough for me to advise you how to set your gadgets or where exactly your specific noise floor is coming from.

Balanced wiring does not cost more than unbalanced, especially if you make the cabling yourself. If you're inserting the compressor on a channel of a Mackie mixer, that insert point is unbalanced and a balanced connection does you no good in that situation.

I love hardware compressors. At our main studio we use an 1176 on most vocals. We have an LA-2 also (which is tube) and I personaly prefer the 1176 because it is a lot faster and catches peaks better. With that said, I think you can set your Behringer Composer pro to achieve 98% of what I do with an 1176, I know it's a sin to say this but I do believe it's true based on actual experience.

As for whether you NEED tubes to sound good, that is utterly false. Tubes don't have an inherent sound, they can be very fast and cold or slow and warm, it just depends on the design of a particular unit. TV sets had MHz and very fast slew all of which was handled by tubes or solid state design. Different units sound different because they're made differently. None is right or wrong inherently, just different.

Don't get hung up on brands or input/output topology, everything matters.

Before you invest in more hardware maybe consider a recording "bootcamp" to improve your understanding of how to set up and adjust your equipment.

As for software vs hardware I love hardware, EQ and compression, but many people can get pro sound with either, this is much more of a personal issue and I hate arguing about it. I like hardware. It costs more and it's more expensive to wire up but I like the sound more than any plugins I've ever used and I've used a lot, not all, but enough to know I like hardware better.

I wish you all the best of luck in your quest, keep working on it. Practice is what you need. Don't be afraid to experiment and DO what works for you.
First off, thanks for detailed response. Your experience with both pieces of gear is helpful.

I want to clarify that I have the solid state, non-tube Behringer Composer (2600 model number). I think some of the posters might have been under the impression I had a tube model. It has a "tube" button on it, but I can't tell that it does much. In fact, none of the knobs or buttons on the Composer Pro seem to do all that much, aside from the gain reduction/limiter and, to a lesser extent, the ratio. Regardless of the settings, the Behringer seems to bring out highs and give them a sort of clarity and saturation, almost like turning up the treble, but in a less twangy and irritating way.

Sound-wise, it's a quality I like. Still, unless I can get rid of the hiss, the thing is kind of unusable (unless I want to go for a low-fi sound). It sounds almost like the cassette hiss you'd hear in the days of yore.

You may be right about the pres and the volumes driving up the hiss level. I turned the treble on the Shiny Box down and it helped quite a bit. It didn't really affect the sound much since I use the SB mainly for the warm lows. Even so, the Behringer gave off an audible hiss that made it more or less unusable. I know it's the unit and not the cables because when I turn off the comp, the hiss goes away.

So with this in mind, I went to the shop down the street and grabbed a VLII. I admit: it was kind of an impulse purchase. I work crazy hours and the weekend mornings and afternoons are about the only time I have to mess with music or musical equipment.

My initial impressions of the VLII?

One, the construction seems solid and the pots and pans less flimsy than the Behringer, which is a good thing, since I already knocked the power button inside the chassis on the latter. The settings also seem to make much more of an audible difference than with the B. I was able to drive up the lows of the Shiny Box and make them tighter, louder, and less boomy--but the Rode sounded better with a minimal ratio and slow attack. All in all, out of the box, the VLII seemed a little too "dirty" for my tastes; I'm anxious to put in some better tubes and see how it fares then.

Meanwhile, I had a friend of greater means than my own come over to see if would could compare to some of the software varieties. He's been pretty gracious about letting me A/B with some of his stuff before. He has a slew of plugs, and I knew from experience that I liked the Waves SSL Comp, but I never really became sold on it. I plugged it in and indeed: it seemed to clarify and distinguish the highs in a way similar to the Behringer, but without as much hiss (though there was still more hiss than before).

I'm starting to think that either a) a good compressor might just be out of my reach financially and/or b) maybe I just shouldn't be compressing stuff to begin with. From the mics to the Mackie to the Lynx soundcard, there is virtually no noticeable hiss....but dammit: I just like the way the comps color my voice (especially the ones like the SSL or the Behringer that work mostly on the highs), and I think it makes me perform better. I'm thinking I therefore might just need look into a good noise reduction plug-in and use my hissy Behringer box and be done with it. My friend swears by a Waves noise reduction model, but it looks expensive, and besides: I've always thought it made more sense to reduce the noise coming in than to filter it out of the signal afterwards. Still, I suppose it may just make more sense for me in the present scenario to go with the hiss and let the masterer worry about taking it out afterwards.
Old 18th September 2011
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jono_3 View Post
To be fair, variable mu compressors (Fairchild, Vari Mu) are tube compressors that achieve compression by using dynamic voltage/re biasing of the tubes.

Right, there is a such thing as a tube compressor, and not just for the input / output / make up amps.

I also don't agree that all budget compressors are "horrid" either. Me, I would have kept my ureis and dbx's.

To each their own.

Lots of stuff that you can find cheap now also, was "high end" in the late 70's 80's. Sure were a lot of hit records made with these. Some may have distorted the sound into something else entirely, but it was a cool sound.

Now some of what they did with them and reverbs in the 80's was er... let's say "creative" to be nice.

The Valley stuff is good, aphex is good. Early Joe Meek is good. I dunno, again, your opinion may differ. For the most part, unless it's for fast limiting, I'll take these over plugins.

To say they all sound bad, is a little misleading IMHO.

I mean, even as ghetto as an MXR dyna comp compressor is, in front of a guitar it can be magic. Not many out there more lo fi than that.

Peace,
john
Old 18th September 2011
  #33
Hey, I forgot to mention too, the noise is likely being caused by poor gain staging ...somewhere in the chain. Or even by the guitar being played just too softly

Try raising the threshold some, it's probably like another poster mentioned, just bringing up low level noise that is already present in your recording.

I have posted about this before, but a lot of ac guitar players I have run into since the piezo plug in direct guitar thing has been the norm, just play too quietly.

Dynamics are great, the low to soft stuff.

It helps though to make your quiet parts a little louder, and keep the loud stuff the same. Recording is different than the human ear, you need to give the mic something to work with...move some air.

This will reduce the noise, or increase the signal to noise ratio, and there will still be enough loud to soft dynamics present in your final mix.

Good luck,
john
Old 18th September 2011
  #34
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
Lots of stuff that you can find cheap now also, was "high end" in the late 70's 80's. Sure were a lot of hit records made with these. Some may have distorted the sound into something else entirely, but it was a cool sound....
To say they all sound bad, is a little misleading IMHO.
I agree completely. If you dig around for reviews on the rest of the components in my front-end, you can see that it all comes very highly reviewed.

The NT1000 has a respectable signal-to-noise ratio and seems to hold it's own against the higher-end models like Neumann by nearly anyone who's used it. The ShinyBox is a Chinese imitation of an old RCA ribbon, but has been decked out with a top-notch Lundahl by the maker and had the other defects associated with mass production remedied. The Mackie VLzIII's are---minus the compression---quieter than any thing I've ever heard or tried, and the Lynx card captures the sound perfectly.

All this sounds great chained together and it consists, to a greater or lesser extent, completely of "budget" gear. I can honestly say i get a sound that is better or at least as good as any recorded album I've heard. And yet: finding a good comp seems to be throwing a monkey wrench into the whole thing. Maybe I'm just too picky; maybe I shouldn't be compressing on the way in at all. I was hoping to find a nice outboard comp to replace the noisy one I have, but it may end up being more hassle than it's worth.

The VLII seems less hissy, but I need new tubes before I can really develop an opinion on it, as right now it's just a little too tube-y and dirty for my tastes.

As for the strumming: I tend to strum too loud rather than the opposite. If I'm one-tracking it, I have to quiet it down a tad just to hear my voice.

I do generally go as loud on the mixer output as I can get without clipping.

Maybe it's because I'm going out of the Mackie's tape out (RCA) outputs into the compressor's RCA (through a weird hybrid cable). But if that's the case, I wonder why there is no audible hiss when I simply bypass the Behringer and go straight into the soundcard. Also, the chord is about a foot long, so there can't be that much EM interference, right?

I don't know. I think I'm just going to look into a good noise reduction plug and not worry about it...
Old 18th September 2011
  #35
Probably not the cable, unless you are doing something really funky with it. Probably not any of your gear either.

Don't jump to the band aid of noise reduction yet either. It ALWAYS comes at the cost of sound quality.

Better to fix this using good engineering practices.

So, this is what's probably up, in simplified terms:

Remember, a compressor's job is basically as an "automatic volume knob". Or automatic fader. Brings down the LOUD stuff, and brings up the quiet stuff. So, it is compressing your dynamic range, squeezing together the loud and soft stuff into one dense siignal so to speak.

Make up gain (the output knob on most compressors), or automatic gain control, is used to bring the level back up to "normal" after the loudest parts have been lowered.

The quiet part (hiss and line noise) are now louder, and the peak level (loudest parts of your performance) are quieter. Because you brought the whole shebang up though, not only the softer parts of your performance, but the volume of the noise that was once small, is now audible.

See?

The noise was in there all along, but because you are squeezing up the dynamic range, and making everything that was once quiet, louder, you are now noticing it.

So what do you do to fix this? If you turn up your mic amp's level while tracking, and you play lightly, you are just going to pull up noise with it. Turn up the first thing in the signal path, the guitar in the room.

Or move the mic closer.

Then you can turn down the mic amp, and there will be more guitar in your track than before, and less noise. Higher signal to noise ratio.

Your gtr = signal
Hiss = noise.

Trying to speak in very simple terms here, please don't shoot me, if I described something inaccurately. It seems like you have a good ear, and a pretty good grasp of what's going on, but compression, and miking acoustic instruments takes years to get a grasp of, let alone perfect.

Seriously, try what I am suggesting. It's free. I bet the issues either go away, or get smaller.

If it doesn't help, something is likely broken, or wired incorrectly.

One thing for certain, is that if you are using the unbalanced outs, into the balanced ins on your compressor, you are probably losing 6db right there.

Also, make sure you have the level nice and hot (loud) at you master on your Mackie. If the level is too low, and you feed this to the compressor, it will be noisy.

Get the level on the mackie reading just below clipping, and raise the threshold of the compressor, and lower the output of the compressor as well.

This is called gain staging. Always keep analog levels hot (just below clipping) and leave no room for noise when feeding another device.

I could go on, but try this stuff first.

Good luck,
john
Old 18th September 2011
  #36
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
Probably not the cable, unless you are doing something really funky with it. Probably not any of your gear either.

Don't jump to the band aid of noise reduction yet either. It ALWAYS comes at the cost of sound quality.

Better to fix this using good engineering practices.

So, this is what's probably up, in simplified terms:

Remember, a compressor's job is basically as an "automatic volume knob". Or automatic fader. Brings down the LOUD stuff, and brings up the quiet stuff. So, it is compressing your dynamic range, squeezing together the loud and soft stuff into one dense siignal so to speak.

Make up gain (the output knob on most compressors), or automatic gain control, is used to bring the level back up to "normal" after the loudest parts have been lowered.

The quiet part (hiss and line noise) are now louder, and the peak level (loudest parts of your performance) are quieter. Because you brought the whole shebang up though, not only the softer parts of your performance, but the volume of the noise that was once small, is now audible.

See?

The noise was in there all along, but because you are squeezing up the dynamic range, and making everything that was once quiet, louder, you are now noticing it.

So what do you do to fix this? If you turn up your mic amp's level while tracking, and you play lightly, you are just going to pull up noise with it. Turn up the first thing in the signal path, the guitar in the room.

Or move the mic closer.

Then you can turn down the mic amp, and there will be more guitar in your track than before, and less noise. Higher signal to noise ratio.

Your gtr = signal
Hiss = noise.

Trying to speak in very simple terms here, please don't shoot me, if I described something inaccurately. It seems like you have a good ear, and a pretty good grasp of what's going on, but compression, and miking acoustic instruments takes years to get a grasp of, let alone perfect.

Seriously, try what I am suggesting. It's free. I bet the issues either go away, or get smaller.

If it doesn't help, something is likely broken, or wired incorrectly.

One thing for certain, is that if you are using the unbalanced outs, into the balanced ins on your compressor, you are probably losing 6db right there.

Also, make sure you have the level nice and hot (loud) at you master on your Mackie. If the level is too low, and you feed this to the compressor, it will be noisy.

Get the level on the mackie reading just below clipping, and raise the threshold of the compressor, and lower the output of the compressor as well.

This is called gain staging. Always keep analog levels hot (just below clipping) and leave no room for noise when feeding another device.

I could go on, but try this stuff first.

Good luck,
john
Ok, thanks, I'll review your tips and see if there's a smoking gun. I may have the threshold set too low and make-up gain too high, drawing in more of the hiss.

As far as the unbalanced output--and I assume the RCA-XLR is unbalanced--- I made the cost-conscious decision a few years back to get the Mackie VLz3 with only two mic inputs (since I record one track at a time), and unfortunately, it doesn't have XLR outs. Like I said, this doesn't seem to make any difference when I bypass the compressor, but I guess in theory it could be contributing to the problem. The VLZ3's have come down in price since then, so maybe I'll grab the version with XLR outs if the other stuff doesn't help.
Old 18th September 2011
  #37
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sound_music's Avatar
 

to the op: if you're just starting out, the advice given by bill at the top of the thread about plugins doing a good job at a much lower cost than their analog counterparts is probably the right advice for your situation. don't go spending thousands on outboard gear if you're not yet at the stage in your mixing/recording where you can reap the full benefits of expensive high-end outboard.

and in a general way he's also right about low grade analog stuff sounding crappy. stay away from the beringher stuff etc., it can't hold a candle to a decent plugin. (with notable exceptions of course: the dbx 160x is a great sounding/cheap compressor that comes to mind.) especially with EQ, i also agree that in the majority of cases you'll be alot better of with a plugin where eq is concerned (compared to a cheap outboard eq). IMO software compression is a little further behind, but still completely usable--plugins have come a long way in the last few years!

in short, at your stage of the game, plugins are a great way to learn without spending alot of money. and if you get to know them well, you can get amazing results: don't let anyone tell you different!
Old 18th September 2011
  #38
Gear Maniac
 

Just a side note. An unbalanced connection may introduce 60hz hum or buzz to the signal but NOT hiss. For short runs in a realtivle EM noise free environment, unbalanced is fine. Hiss is internaly generated from some component in your chain.
Old 18th September 2011
  #39
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Ok, folks: now's when I have to admit to being a giant nonce.

The Behringer has a link-channel, stereo button. When selected, the controls on the left side apply to the right also and override them. Or so I thought.

Apparently, this is true only of the compressor settings. The De-Esser, which sits to the right of those, is apparently not overriden by the link-channel button. So the right-side De-esser, which I thought to be sitting there harmlessly, was actually turned on and the cause of all my hissy frustrations. Turned it off and bye-bye hiss.

Hey, I never claimed to be a pro...
Old 18th September 2011
  #40
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBaaron View Post
Ok, folks: now's when I have to admit to being a giant nonce.

The Behringer has a link-channel, stereo button. When selected, the controls on the left side apply to the right also and override them. Or so I thought.

Apparently, this is true only of the compressor settings. The De-Esser, which sits to the right of those, is apparently not overriden by the link-channel button. So the right-side De-esser, which I thought to be sitting there harmlessly, was actually turned on and the cause of all my hissy frustrations. Turned it off and bye-bye hiss.

Hey, I never claimed to be a pro...
Still though; this is a happy ending.
Old 18th September 2011
  #41
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivmike View Post
Still though; this is a happy ending.
Amen! Always better to find out new ways to reuse old gear than find out I need new gear that's financially out of my reach...
Old 18th September 2011
  #42
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Good catch! I have owned one for years, and I did not know that was the case, I always assumed that linking the two channels linked all of the functions as well. I usually run the two channels independently, but if I ever link them in the future I will certainly remember this bit of information. Glad you got it sorted out and let us know.
Old 18th September 2011
  #43
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Nigel Go View Post
Good catch! I have owned one for years, and I did not know that was the case, I always assumed that linking the two channels linked all of the functions as well. I usually run the two channels independently, but if I ever link them in the future I will certainly remember this bit of information. Glad you got it sorted out and let us know.
No sweat; glad to contribute something to the discussion. And I'm glad somebody other than me didn't see that as being self-evident. From the looks of it, the output gain controls might also be independent, since they're to the right of the comp controls also (I didn't test them, but I imagine that to be the case from the positioning). Regardless: De-Esser definitely = Hiss maker.

Now that I've got that straightened out, I have no complaints about the Behringer unit. I may find the VL II the more useful of the two once I swap out the junk stock tubes, but I do like the way the Behringer tightens up the highs and mids. The VLII seems to do the same for the mid-lows, which will probably be great with the ribbon mic, but the stock tubes introduce too much distortion for my tastes (at least in conjunction with the software comps I'm also running). We'll see what a little Telefunken magic can do...
Old 19th September 2011
  #44
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sonic dogg's Avatar
I havent read a lot of this so forgive me if I repeat something already said. That older Behringer stuff wasnt as bad as the later crappola they tried to pass off as professional gear.

Now here's my take and its based on your original post where you describe your micing technique.

While this is a good and acceptable standard setup, one has to question the preamps abilities to amplify these mics to the level needed to be clean and clear. You have said you really like this setup and I use a similar one all the time on particular acoustic guitars. The difference may be that I am able to get 50 to 60 dbs of noiseless gain with my rig while you are able to get enough gain to make it sound good, when you add the compressor it is amplifying the noise floor of the preamps.

Gain staging. Very important.

Perhaps you move your micing technique in so you can turn down your pres and then the hiss will go away when you add the compressor.

Gain staging....very important....now, Danielson, show me , paint the fence.......
Old 19th September 2011
  #45
Not to be difficult, but the de-esser is causing this?
It's job is to reduce high frequency?

If anything, it'd be taking treble off of your mix.

john

edit:
I guess if the de-esser is actually pumping and breathing...maybe?
Old 19th September 2011
  #46
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonic dogg View Post
I havent read a lot of this so forgive me if I repeat something already said. That older Behringer stuff wasnt as bad as the later crappola they tried to pass off as professional gear.

Now here's my take and its based on your original post where you describe your micing technique.

While this is a good and acceptable standard setup, one has to question the preamps abilities to amplify these mics to the level needed to be clean and clear. You have said you really like this setup and I use a similar one all the time on particular acoustic guitars. The difference may be that I am able to get 50 to 60 dbs of noiseless gain with my rig while you are able to get enough gain to make it sound good, when you add the compressor it is amplifying the noise floor of the preamps.

Gain staging. Very important.

Perhaps you move your micing technique in so you can turn down your pres and then the hiss will go away when you add the compressor.

Gain staging....very important....now, Danielson, show me , paint the fence.......
You're not wrong, and this and the other posts about using balanced outputs, closer micing, higher thresholds, etc, all relevant tips for maintaining a respectable noise-to-signal ratio.

However, what I was experiencing was a little more glaring than what one would expect from poor micing techniques, noisy pres, unbalanced outs, etc. This was an annoying hiss tape-like hiss coming from the Behringer that could be heard even over my singing and strumming. Behringer may not make the quietest units around, but I do have the minimal expectation that they will not sound like a leaky tire.

As for the turning down the pres, I can only do so much here. The Rode LCD's preamp is turned down low enough, and is quiet enough mic anyhow. The ShinyBox is a ribbon and so requires a lot of gain to be heard. To make matters worse, ribbons almost have to be placed about a foot away or more, or they are susceptible to an overbearing proximity effect.

Still, the Shinybox's proximity warmth is less noticeable than other ribbons I've used. And to be truthful, I wouldn't want to get rid of the proximity effect anyway. It's actually the reason I use it: it brings a warmth and depth to the bass strings of the acoustic guitar that no LCD can mimic. For the solo acoustic thing, it really helps flesh out the sonic spectrum.

But again: you're right and I appreciate yours and the others tips on how to keep this hiss at a minimum. I also discovered my 2-input Mackie has balanced or unbalanced outputs, so I made an effort to pick up some really nice cables to plug into the compressor (Mogami golds). The verdict is still out as to whether they're that nice, but, hey at least I'm not loosing signal now....
Old 19th September 2011
  #47
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
Not to be difficult, but the de-esser is causing this?
It's job is to reduce high frequency?

If anything, it'd be taking treble off of your mix.

john

edit:
I guess if the de-esser is actually pumping and breathing...maybe
Yes, without a doubt, that was the culprit.

I know; it confounds me too, since one would think, if anything, that it would reduce hiss. Maybe the unit has some kind of built-in shelving function to counteract the damping of high-end frequencies that can occur with de-essing ? I don't know. Mine is old too, so maybe that's it: maybe it's just took one too many beating during my moves (I mentioned the power button caved in, didn't I?). It's hard to say because I've rarely used it in the ten years or so since I bought it, and when I did, I never used the de-esser (well not intentionally, anyway). I did notice, however, that it does that with both left and right channels. It seems to be a quirk with this particular unit. Or at least mine in particular.
Old 19th September 2011
  #48
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sonic dogg's Avatar
I can see you have spent a large amount of time and energy on solving this and thats the way we learn.

One other observation.....is the compressor anywhere near your computer screen? And the knowledge of the power supply switch being in a poor condition makes me think that a internal ground for noise suppression may be loose.

And no, you should not be experiencing hiss at that level with any electronic gear .
Old 20th September 2011
  #49
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RedBaaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonic dogg View Post
I can see you have spent a large amount of time and energy on solving this and thats the way we learn.

One other observation.....is the compressor anywhere near your computer screen? And the knowledge of the power supply switch being in a poor condition makes me think that a internal ground for noise suppression may be loose.

And no, you should not be experiencing hiss at that level with any electronic gear .
Could be. I'm no electrical engineer and I only have the one copy, so I don't really have any means by which to compare. To answer your question, the comp is one room over from the computer and monitor, but the same room as the mixer and mics. The power button fell into the inside of the metal chassis, but I can still stick my pinky in there and get her to light up (there's a rubbery switch behind the black plastic one I lost). One curious thing about the de-esser is that it not only turns up the hiss, it dramatically puts a sharp edge to the higher freqs; that was my reason for thinking that there might be some kind of eqing at work, possibly to compensate for the loss of highs you sometimes get with de-essing.

Or it could just be a beat up piece of crap. I'd give a reasonable amount of credence to either theory (and for that matter, alternate ones). All I know's: right-turn the knob, down go the hissey!
Old 13th October 2011
  #50
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mowmow's Avatar
I found CL1B and I really like it because it was transparent and not because it was tube compressor. It just works great with my pick of mic pre (with EQ engaged) and mics that I choose.
If I don't have CL1B, I like to use LA3A because of the same reason and this is not a tube comp.

But for for lead vocals, tube mic is a must.
Old 14th December 2011
  #51
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by foldback View Post
Greetings from a desert isle in the Caribbean (I'm on vacation lol).

I have many compressors including the ART and the Behringer Composer Pro which we use on our broadcast microphones.

The Composer is not inherently noisy. I think the hiss you're hearing is the hiss of your mic preamps being brought up by the compressor.

Ribbon mics are very low output, I'm guessing your mic preamps are hissing because you're running a lot of gain and the compressor is bringing up the hiss. I use a Grace M801 for ribbon mics but that's an expensive unit. I don't have a Shiny Box ribbon mic but I do have several Royer ribbon units and they require a lot of gain.

I'm not sure about the output level of the Rode mic you have, I don't have one of them but since it's a LDC it probably has good output level so you don't need as much gain on it as the ribbon.

Without being there to evaluate your knob settings it's tough for me to advise you how to set your gadgets or where exactly your specific noise floor is coming from.

Balanced wiring does not cost more than unbalanced, especially if you make the cabling yourself. If you're inserting the compressor on a channel of a Mackie mixer, that insert point is unbalanced and a balanced connection does you no good in that situation.

I love hardware compressors. At our main studio we use an 1176 on most vocals. We have an LA-2 also (which is tube) and I personaly prefer the 1176 because it is a lot faster and catches peaks better. With that said, I think you can set your Behringer Composer pro to achieve 98% of what I do with an 1176, I know it's a sin to say this but I do believe it's true based on actual experience.

As for whether you NEED tubes to sound good, that is utterly false. Tubes don't have an inherent sound, they can be very fast and cold or slow and warm, it just depends on the design of a particular unit. TV sets had MHz and very fast slew all of which was handled by tubes or solid state design. Different units sound different because they're made differently. None is right or wrong inherently, just different.

Don't get hung up on brands or input/output topology, everything matters.

Before you invest in more hardware maybe consider a recording "bootcamp" to improve your understanding of how to set up and adjust your equipment.

As for software vs hardware I love hardware, EQ and compression, but many people can get pro sound with either, this is much more of a personal issue and I hate arguing about it. I like hardware. It costs more and it's more expensive to wire up but I like the sound more than any plugins I've ever used and I've used a lot, not all, but enough to know I like hardware better.

I wish you all the best of luck in your quest, keep working on it. Practice is what you need. Don't be afraid to experiment and DO what works for you.
Hi, there is a lot of good advice on this thread. I agree with foldback.

Like the original post, I too started out as a [musician], trying to create commercial sounding recordings on a tight budget, got heavily involved with the industry, and now I am back to before where I started, just creating because I don't know.

I joined Gearsl.. just to respond to this post thread. Getting the sound. It is illusive, like the holy grail. Fools Gold in the words of the Stone Roses. Many of us believe we need this or that piece to make our polished masterpiece. And I have no doubt that if you have a neve desk you are off to a good start in recording. But you can achieve interesting and valid professional work on a modest budget. I have not used Behringer, but often tormented myself as to whether I should have. I have seen them in some very very special studios. I too love the sound of the greats in recording chains, but when needs must, or a particular job is to be done, any gear is better than no gear, plugs included. But I always think, no one says: The Beatles in the early sixties sounded bad because they did not have a Neve 2254 or dBx (I think they were not yet invented). I love the sound of good quality processors, and my dream studio would have all the toys young boys dream of, girls included of course.

I tentatively suggest, after research and trying stuff out, you choose a few good pieces you can afford and work within their limits. If you are anything like me, you will never use your stuff to all its limits. You will find limits, but work around these. Brian Wilson did, as does every other music creator. Remember, the Beatles were not just four nice blokes in smart outfits: they were hundreds if not thousands of people at EMI and beyond. A team of people worked on those recordings, and it shows.

I apologise if I come across as preachy or even arrogant, that is not my intention. I will finish with some advice I think I once received (if I listened and understood correctly): the then owner and founder of a world famous rock recording studio said to me, what sounded good in the sixties still sounds good today. (I agree) I believed him to be talking about gear, as I had expressed surprise on coming to record at this great studio, that they were using analogue and not digital. Tape, desk, outboard. And I so much wanted to emulate that sound at home with my adat and digi desk. Now the industry has embraced digital, and recordings can sound more digi, and be released. The rules are relaxed, but I think the business is in some ways harder now than ever.

Personally, I wish I was on that carribean isle, in the sun, with my loved one. There comes a point when you just have to get on with making music with what you have. (I am talking to myself). The best starting point is to surround yourself by really talented people, including musicians. And your own talent. Tubes sound great, but other stuff does too!

Have fun! And go for it!


I cannot help myself, I have read so many Gearsl... posts, I want to create a list of perceived wisdom, but not gospel in any way:

U87 Neve Pre 1176 good for rock vocals (I do not use this chain for myself, but would sometime maybe try)

dBx 160 kick wiv snare.

Distressor Mix Buss, and everywhere (I personally do not have one)

Neve 33609 Mix Buss and vox

any vca, 1176 pair or LA2A pair across drum buss, guitars, mix.

Tony Hadley I saw using a vocal chain of amek/neve pre eq and dBx 160 and Eventide eclipse doubler.

Oddly, I own none of the above pieces. I hope I have helped in some way. Please do not berate me if you think what I say is not good.

Claud

(c) 2011 Claud
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