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mastering compressor comparison test Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 24th October 2018
  #1
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teebaum's Avatar
mastering compressor comparison test

thom wettstein and i did another comparison with compressors.
but here we didn't try to match the devices to each other, we looked for settings that show what they do best.

included are

airfield liminator
hendyamp pollock
knif pure mu
hcl varis
fote ps3 me
maselec mla3 (linked)
tegeler cream
tegeler schweerkraftmaschine (with many different models)

here you can find the report in german

High-End Mastering Kompressoren im Vergleich - Dichte und Dynamik

here the files

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w654zctwnc...0Test.zip?dl=1

and the youtube video

YouTube

the language should not scare off english speakers, most of them are sound examples and the rest is self-explanatory

otherwise:
DeepL Translator

have fun!
Old 24th October 2018
  #2
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the unik's Avatar
Gentlemens, Teebaum is unstoppable at the moment
Old 25th October 2018
  #3
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Giuseppe Zaccaria's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by the unik View Post
Gentlemens, Teebaum is unstoppable at the moment

Yes he is, and we love these kind of things

PureMu fast attack is amazing!
Old 25th October 2018
  #4
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Giuseppe Zaccaria View Post
Yes he is, and we love these kind of things

PureMu fast attack is amazing!
i nearly never use the pure mu with fast attack, but it's unbelievable, how fast this vari mu can be (and this was even not the fastest position) - and how usefull he still sound with a fast setting.
knif gear is always exciting :-)
Old 25th October 2018
  #5
nice to meet you again, teebaum ;- )
great shots.
thank you.
Old 25th October 2018
  #6
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Kimotei's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
airfield liminator
hendyamp pollock
knif pure mu
hcl varis
fote ps3 me
maselec mla3 (linked)
tegeler cream
tegeler schweerkraftmaschine (with many different models)
What a list! Thank you so much guys, this is exelent and very helpfull!


I must admit when I loaded all the tracks into the DAW I was worried that my crush of the week, the Pollock would fall behind the more expencive boxes. But actually, it came out top for me! Followed by the HCL on a firm second. The rest was ok, and I actually prefered the original from the Tegelers. For the record I only listened to the techno track as its the only style I work with. I might very well have a completely different opinion on acoustic music. As always take these opinions with a grain of salt. I spent 15min only (takeaway food arrived) so I will give it another go before considering any purchases, for sure.
Old 26th October 2018
  #7
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Big THANKS to teebaum for, again, providing a wonderful comparison.

Some of these units I'm not familiar with. The 'tegeler schweerkraftmaschine' could have been an entire demo itself !

Wish I could have understood [language] the comments you Guys were making.

Nonetheless ... much appreciate the EQ followup with these Mastering Compressors.

Thanks again !
Old 26th October 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
i nearly never use the pure mu with fast attack, but it's unbelievable, how fast this vari mu can be (and this was even not the fastest position) - and how usefull he still sound with a fast setting.
knif gear is always exciting :-)
Yep, fastest attack and fastest release and it starts to click all around when set with ratio >2
Old 26th October 2018
  #9
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the unik's Avatar
Again, Tegelers gear not at all on the same league for me, and I love this MLA 3.
The Only unit I never bought that I should have at the time...The Pure MU has that euhponic Knif sound signature wich is "pristine" for lack of a better words, and it is indeed really fast for a vari mu
Old 26th October 2018
  #10
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Sargon's Avatar
 

Great comparison again, thanks for that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by the unik View Post
Again, Tegelers gear not at all on the same league for me, and I love this MLA 3.
The Only unit I never bought that I should have at the time...The Pure MU has that euhponic Knif sound signature wich is "pristine" for lack of a better words, and it is indeed really fast for a vari mu
I can only agree with that. For me, the Pure Mu is a near-perfect vari mu comp. It always adds something nice without being too obvious. I love it!

Unfortunately, I have to agree with you on the Tegeler stuff. The units seems innovative and at a fair price point but there is always something that sounds "cheap" to my ears.

Hm.. the Pollock. I don´t want to think about it because I wanted to save some money in the next time.. no no, my wallet is closed.
Old 26th October 2018
  #11
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Solid Mastering's Avatar
 

The Pollock sounds like something in this test. Very nice extra punch!
Old 26th October 2018
  #12
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Awesome comparison Teebaum! Amazing really! Very well matched audio in the video.

I have to say that while I've never used the Tegler stuff myself I'm a bit bummed out by the overall "box tone". The compression action seems ridiculously flexible and awesome but the box tone is somehow slightly harsh or grainy. Kind of the opposite to "expensive sheen" that I always have in my mind.

The Knif for instance has that "thing". I'm also surprised of just how nicely it followed the amplitude envelope of that 2nd track (the soft pop thing). Oh why do I always have to like the expensive toys.

And that Pollock is just pure awesomeness too!

Varis was a letdown for me. It seemed to mess up the stereo image in a weird way. Thought I had water in my ears for a second there but nope.. it really does something wonky to the stereo image. Needs perhaps a bit of servicing?

Anyhow, great test! Much appreciated!!
Old 27th October 2018
  #13
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
Varis was a letdown for me. It seemed to mess up the stereo image in a weird way. Thought I had water in my ears for a second there but nope.. it really does something wonky to the stereo image. Needs perhaps a bit of servicing?

Anyhow, great test! Much appreciated!!
since i always operate my chain in m/s, i never noticed that - but the right channel (s) is a little brighter than the left one (m), which is manifested in m/s but rather in a wider, more open stereo image.
Old 27th October 2018
  #14
i like the Airfield with fast attack very much.
Knif: both settings sound good-very good in both tracks!

the Pollock (or the settings?) doesn't fit in both track IMO (maybe better for the 1st one).

i like the Maselec on the last track more.
the Foote is also nice (a very good choice in combination maybe?): it seemed always a mysterious comp to me : )))

the winner is for me the Knif (next the Airfield).
: )
wow!
Old 27th October 2018
  #15
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamelesssounds View Post
i like the Airfield with fast attack very much.
Knif: both settings sound good-very good in both tracks!

the Pollock (or the settings?) doesn't fit in both track IMO (maybe better for the 1st one).

i like the Maselec on the last track more.
the Foote is also nice (a very good choice in combination maybe?): it seemed always a mysterious comp to me : )))

the winner is for me the Knif (next the Airfield).
: )
wow!
hello babak

for me there are no "winners", but only suitable or inappropriately used compressors, whereby I am also your opinion that the knif & the liminator always perform well.
the pollock can sometimes be an enormous profit if used correctly.
Old 28th October 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
hello babak

for me there are no "winners", but only suitable or inappropriately used compressors, whereby I am also your opinion that the knif & the liminator always perform well.
the pollock can sometimes be an enormous profit if used correctly.
hi dan, of course, it's obvious: my chosen "winner" is the winner in this context, in these two tracks with that settings. so i still think the knif is the winnder. 2nd place belongs to airfield. ;- )
Old 28th October 2018
  #17
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Had a quick listen to these today...Airfield and Knif were very nice on both fast and slow settings, I preferred the slow attack in each case.

MLA-3 really seemed to have a nice depth to it.

The FCS seemed the most transparent and I kinda felt like it kept the solidity of the kick the best.

The Pollock was quite interesting! The 'colored' one really brought out the high freq stuff in a cool way. Both that and the 'moderate' one seemed to bring out the sides...switching from those to the Knif, it felt like the Mid jumped forward on the Knif file. That's not a criticism of the Pollock at all, just something I noticed.

Thanks for doing this teebaum!
Old 28th October 2018
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Liminator has the best groove. Always heard about how great the release is and it's so true.

Pollock moderate for the slow rock tune wins.

P3S to me just sounds like a nice combo of warm without being colored. Probably my overall favorite.

Knif is wide and detailed, and can compress really transparently. Not in love with its tone overall.

Maselec I didnt enjoy at all, same for the two Tegeler units.
Old 29th October 2018
  #19
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bcgood's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I really like the Varis in that first song with the dance track. Sounds really good
Old 1st November 2018
  #20
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Verified Member
To me the Knif is a winner here, clean enough for mastering, but not edgy or shrinkled. The Airfield is cool too, but maybe a bit to colored in comparisson. Works better with the the Robert Babicz track to me. Both are clearly better with the slow Att setting (like every comp I have ever used).
The HCL seems to suffer from that L/R mismatch unfortunately. Its good sounding too, but a bit on the raw side without the elegance of the Knif.
From the VCAs the Foote is best (may be also due its transformer circuit which seems to add a nice smooth sheen), the Maselec sounds a bit odd (sidechain filtering maybe..?)
The Tegler stuff just isnt on par at all with the others unfortunately.
The Pollock (which was the most interesting one to me personally. I will try to get a testunit here nevertheless) leaves me with mixed emotions a bit. Feels a bit to colored to me in both modes (same tendency like the Hendyamp MA), which makes it sounding quite dense, upfront and impressive on first listen, but also could be easily to much within the chain I think. Maybe its because the time constants are just fixed and the ATT seems a tad to fast for my taste and therefore lacks open- and bigness a bit? It seems also a bit edgy in the highs. Or its because its so different and not really comparable to more classic designs..?

Very interesting comparison. Thanks again.
Old 1st November 2018
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks Teebaum for doing doing this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ View Post
To me the Knif is a winner here, clean enough for mastering, but not edgy or shrinkled. The Airfield is cool too, but maybe a bit to colored in comparisson. Works better with the the Robert Babicz track to me. Both are clearly better with the slow Att setting (like every comp I have ever used).
The HCL seems to suffer from that L/R mismatch unfortunately. Its good sounding too, but a bit on the raw side without the elegance of the Knif.
From the VCAs the Foote is best (may be also due its transformer circuit which seems to add a nice smooth sheen), the Maselec sounds a bit odd (sidechain filtering maybe..?)
The Tegler stuff just isnt on par at all with the others unfortunately.
The Pollock (which was the most interesting one to me personally. I will try to get a testunit here nevertheless) leaves me with mixed emotions a bit. Feels a bit to colored to me in both modes (same tendency like the Hendyamp MA), which makes it sounding quite dense, upfront and impressive on first listen, but also could be easily to much within the chain I think. Maybe its because the time constants are just fixed and the ATT seems a tad to fast for my taste and therefore lacks open- and bigness a bit? It seems also a bit edgy in the highs. Or its because its so different and not really comparable to more classic designs..?

Very interesting comparison. Thanks again.
My thoughts are exactly the same. I normally follow the "get the tool in front of you" school of thought, but this has been a great revealer. I was interested in the Tegeler stuff to test, but compared to the other compressors in this test, they simply didn't hold the mix as well. And I wasn't the biggest fan of the tone.
Old 1st November 2018
  #22
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ View Post
The HCL seems to suffer from that L/R mismatch unfortunately. Its good sounding too, but a bit on the raw side without the elegance of the Knif.
because i run my chain m/s i never realized the miss matching - the right channel (s) is brighter, that's often not bad for the side :-)

the varis is not as elegant as the knif, but he can give some weight to the music and parallel there is a 'magic amount spot', where he make something nice with the lowest 2 octaves
Old 1st November 2018
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Hey Dan, out of curiousity what would you have used on the actual master?
Old 1st November 2018
  #24
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxtone View Post
Hey Dan, out of curiousity what would you have used on the actual master?
what do you mean with "actual master"?
have i mastered something for you (and don't know who is behind the name "boxtone"?)?
or do you mean, which chain am i driving at the moment?
each song is decided anew.

Last edited by teebaum; 2nd November 2018 at 12:11 AM..
Old 1st November 2018
  #25
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b0se's Avatar
Love my Varis; super versatile, and the ability to dial in pentode/triode saturation is so good.

A shame the test here is off, not a fair showing for it :¬)
Old 1st November 2018
  #26
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se View Post
Love my Varis; super versatile, and the ability to dial in pentode/triode saturation is so good.

A shame the test here is off, not a fair showing for it :¬)
i understand of course that you're a little frustrated because the varis was beaten under value here and i didn't go into the different feedback, feedforward, triode and pentode modes (what we hear is triode feedback).
but for missmatching i have to say that this is not my first varis and i also tried several tube sets (which hcl gave me) on my first one - i never managed that it was really matched.
so i only use it with stereolink (the sensitivity of the sidechain is sometimes not 100%) and m/s, mixed in parallel.
tube devices are never as closely matched as solid state devices and I measured the varis once - above 7khz the frequency response is different and reaches a difference of 0.5dB at 20khz, below 30hz there is a significant difference, which is also not more than 1dB at 20 hz - for a varis this is not bad at all.
of course there are devices from knif, tubetech, fairman and so on, more exactly matched, final inspection and calibration has never been the strength of hcl, but somewhere the price difference has to come from and i have experienced similar problems with much more expensive manufacturers.
Attached Thumbnails
mastering compressor comparison test-varis.jpg  
Old 1st November 2018
  #27
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teebaum's Avatar
here for comparison the knif and the pollock
Attached Thumbnails
mastering compressor comparison test-pollock.jpg   mastering compressor comparison test-pure_mu.jpg  

Last edited by teebaum; 2nd November 2018 at 12:48 AM..
Old 2nd November 2018
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
here for comparison the knif and the pollock
Picture 1 is the Pollock and 2 the Knif right ?
My Knif PM also has the slight roll off in the low and the little boost over 10k so when I saw Pic 1 I was "whaat ?? How does he get a bass boost ??"
Old 2nd November 2018
  #29
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saxnscratch View Post
Picture 1 is the Pollock and 2 the Knif right ?
My Knif PM also has the slight roll off in the low and the little boost over 10k so when I saw Pic 1 I was "whaat ?? How does he get a bass boost ??"

sorry, the measurement of the pure mu was scaled differently, now it matches the others

you see the names below in the filename

the deviation at 20Hz is -0.6dB and at about 15kHz there is an increase of 0.2dB, which can be considered very linear for a vari-mu compressor (knif pure mu).
a neutral setting on the g23s or a michelangelo have comparable deviations
Old 2nd November 2018
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
what do you mean with "actual master"?
have i mastered something for you (and don't know who is behind the name "boxtone"?)?
or do you mean, which chain am i driving at the moment?
each song is decided anew.
Im saying for this particular song, if you were mastering it, which of these comps would you have used?
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