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Compressor advice
Old 9th August 2020
  #1
Compressor advice

Hey guys, I am starting a new mastering studio. I have been mastering on plugins.

I just got to use Gyraf G24. I was blown away. I am trying to enter the hardware territory and have to start from somewhere.

Can you guys recommend me a good mastering compressor around $2000 or less for electronic music.

I have already alloted budget for Lynx Hilo for ADDA.
To start with what compressor should I buy? Was looking at Tegeler Vari Tube but I have seen mixed reviews about it. Please suggest.
Old 10th August 2020
  #2
Why do you think you need a compressor?

Lots of records on the charts are mastered these days without one. A compressor can change the balance , depth or width of a mix afterwards and this will perturb alot of producers and mixers.

Lastly gear choices are personal to how one works. It comes through trial and error and experimentation.
Like how using the G24 set of a light bulb for you in terms of something you would want to work with. Talk to some gear dealers or studios in your area, to setup a way you can try out the gear you are interested in.
Old 10th August 2020
  #3
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately in India there are not many options to demo a unit. Very few companies are available and I fortunately stumbled upon a G24 owner. Also heard Culture Vulture Phoenix Mastering plus which I loved but it's a bit pricey for me.
I am definitely clear that I want a compressor to do certain things I like. I wish I could try and listen to some stuff in person. I am looking and will keep looking for users here.
Old 10th August 2020
  #4
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Hi .shft,

Saw your Location: Hyderabad - I have fond memories of that place since I was often on holiday there as a kid - must have been between 1969 and ´71. We lived in Orissa most of my childhood in the waay out countryside - so Hyderabad is still the prototype of a real big city to me :-)

As for your question - i see two routes: Are you aware that the G24 is also available for use on-line at mixanalog.com - some initial time for free, some for a relatively low cost. And oh, they have some other REALLY nice stuff for online use too..

The other route would be to build your own compressors/equipment - there are some very supportive online communities that can help you build your own really nice stuff. This would not only be affordable on a much smaller budget, but also significantly expand your horizons :-) Note that the G24 is not available as DIY project, but you can come a long way with e.g. a LA4 or such classic.

Best regards,

Jakob Erland
Old 10th August 2020
  #5
Hello Jacob,

Its great to know that you have been to India before!!! Hope to get some gear from you guys in India in the future. Really loved how that compressor sounded on the tracks I was mastering.
So I have increased my budget a bit and move to $ 3000 category as I didn't find anything under 2000. I had tried mix analog but I want to play with the compressor peacefully and when I do that it becomes a big cost per master so it's not a scalable option for me. As we all start somewhere, I was considering IGS Tubecore as I like the sound of Fairchild. I don't expect it to be a Fairchild though but I liked that vibe.
Any other recommendations within this price bracket?
Old 10th August 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by music.shft View Post
I am definitely clear that I want a compressor to do certain things I like.
Can you say more about this?

It sounds like you are particularly interested in tube/vari mu style compression which is harder to find in that price range and wouldn't be my first choice with electronic music.

That said...

I have seen people who are happy with the Tubecore in that genre. You may even find a used Gyraf G10. Or for something a little different the Hendyamps Pollock is in your price range.

I would be leaning more towards a VCA comp for electronic music. You could find a used FCS P3S ME or API 2500 in your price range. There are also some very good value G Series clones like the High Voltage Audio or GOLY ones.

You may also find the mastering compressor comparison thread useful as a resource.

Mastering Compressor Comparison (Audio Samples)
Old 11th August 2020
  #7
I am new to the hardware world so sonically i feel overwhelmed. I am liking the sound of VCA compressors and will be my next buy. I want to have multiple style of compressors so i can add different ones for different tracks but to begin with need something with a nice colour and want to push the sound into the analog realm. I hear and see the endless debate about digital coming close to analog but to me an analog path is giving more satisfactory result. That's the main aim with this compressor.

Really liked Pollock as well but cant find a dealer in India.
Old 11th August 2020
  #8
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I think Hendyamps is all direct order.

Something with a distinct colour like a Pollock may not be as versatile as you'd want from a first or only compressor than something that has, for example, switchable transformers like some of the FCS ones. But I don't have first hand experience with it so hopefully someone who has will chime in.

But if you like the sound you like the sound and you can make it more transparent by driving it less (providing the threshold goes low enough).
Old 11th August 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Why do you think you need a compressor?

Lots of records on the charts are mastered these days without one. A compressor can change the balance , depth or width of a mix afterwards and this will perturb alot of producers and mixers.


Honestly, 9/10 times I prefer the sound of a record without compression... Once the tonal balance is in the pocket, the punch just emerges naturally (if it's there to begin with).

Many, many times I've been asked "what compressor is being used?" or "what's your secret?"... when I say I just used an EQ, they're usually pretty shocked.
Old 11th August 2020
  #10
Yes. I wanna use the compressor for both things. Slight compression but doesn't mean every track will need it and some colouration. As my budget is less, would you recommend getting into 500 series as my entry into the analog world? Instead of one in that price, I can maybe get a transparent and a coloured compressor. Thoughts?
Old 11th August 2020
  #11
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Cutting corners just costs you more in the long run.

'Buy well; buy once' is my motto. This requires a little patience and homework and you need to be really clear what you like in terms of sound and what you need in terms of functionality and workflow.

FWIW my first analogue compressor was an API 2500 because I loved the sound of it. My second was a Knif Pure Mu because I liked it's sound and versatlity. I still have them both.

I had planned to add an Airfield Liminator 2 at some point but I really don't need it.
Old 12th August 2020
  #12
Yes you are right. I am realising that it's important to get something which will be used in the long run. I really love the sound of Api and Knif. After some feedback here and watching endless videos, I have realised that I love love the sound of the tubes and will definitely go for a tube compressor as my first one. Some companies were kind enough to pass my music from some of their gear which cleared up a lot of things and helped me get some more perspective.
Old 16th August 2020
  #13
Gear Guru
What about the Weiss plug ins. You can certainly hear what they are doing and might give you some time to look further. No one’s complaining that doesn’t sound like the hardware since ported directly from a digital box...
Old 16th August 2020
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
What about the Weiss plug ins. You can certainly hear what they are doing and might give you some time to look further. No one’s complaining that doesn’t sound like the hardware since ported directly from a digital box...
Agreed, and also Unisum.
Old 17th August 2020
  #15
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The plugin versions are very good at doing what digital does best, but I also think we can agree that they don't do what the analogue does.

Apples and oranges kinda thing

/Jakob E.
Old 17th August 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyraf View Post
The plugin versions are very good at doing what digital does best, but I also think we can agree that they don't do what the analogue does.

Apples and oranges kinda thing

/Jakob E.
One might also argue that the G24 does a very good job of offering the kind of flexibility and control that is typically only realised in the plugin domain...
Old 17th August 2020
  #17
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I think there's more than a handful of plugins that can convincingly pull-off an analogue sound...whatever that is.
Old 17th August 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surbitone View Post
I think there's more than a handful of plugins that can convincingly pull-off an analogue sound...whatever that is.
Yes, you're allowed to think it is this way.

I've personally known very good engineers that believed every new version of their emulation plugins to be the final one, and the proof to end all discussion, indistinguishable from the real thing. Literally since the turn of the century (!!). And mind you, these were people that were way better engineers/mixers that I could ever aspire to be - not some deaf leftovers from the past.

It just shows that it's very different things we are listening for - and all power to those that don't have to spend money, rackspace and electricity to get the workflow of their dreams.

And oh - pro audio marketing also has a lot to do with the perception of the differences. Not always in any good way.

/Jakob E.
Old 17th August 2020
  #19
If you get into the analog gear world, you're going to do some buying and selling. It's all well and good to think you'll always make the right decisions, but this is not always possible. Yes, you should always get class-a gear in your chain, but very often you need far more time to demo a unit than the manufacturer allows. You might find as you're building your system for specific needs, these needs change or become nuanced over time, and that compressor you bought a year ago is no longer ticking the right boxes for your needs today. You also might get a unit that has a specific tonal footprint, but then you add a different unit into your chain, and suddenly that tone from the other piece of gear is no longer sitting in the right way. Then it comes down to, which unit is doing what I need better than the other. Essentially it's an ever evolving and rotating kind of thing. Some will stay, and some will go.

There are so many good compressors out there. The thing is, do you need a compressor that adds a lot of tone, Manley, IGS etc..or more of a utility dynamics device like an STC-8, Maselec etc.

Something to keep in mind. There are hundreds if not thousands of so called mastering studios that is essentially a room with a computer with plugins that everyone else has. I would say build something that sets a unique perspective on why mix engineers like myself should hire you. One of the reasons I really like boutique audio companies, is that it's usually a guy or two sitting in a cloud of soldering smoke building a unit to order. And how each unit can sound a little different from one to the other because of a particular batch of components used or...
Old 18th August 2020
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyraf View Post
Yes, you're allowed to think it is this way.

I've personally known very good engineers that believed every new version of their emulation plugins to be the final one, and the proof to end all discussion, indistinguishable from the real thing. Literally since the turn of the century (!!). And mind you, these were people that were way better engineers/mixers that I could ever aspire to be - not some deaf leftovers from the past.

It just shows that it's very different things we are listening for - and all power to those that don't have to spend money, rackspace and electricity to get the workflow of their dreams.

And oh - pro audio marketing also has a lot to do with the perception of the differences. Not always in any good way.

/Jakob E.

For me, the pro's outweigh the cons - it has absolutely nothing to do with my susceptibility to marketing. I use my ears and have re-invested everything into my monitoring and acoustics.

I've had more analogue pieces than I could care to count, but the quality of my output has consistently increased whilst the time taken to complete work has significantly decreased. I love the tactility of analogue and the sound of many pieces , but for me, personally, it's no longer worth the hassles.
Old 18th August 2020
  #21
I agree with the fact that plugins are really advanced these days and they offer quite a lot with instant recall and flexibility. But I do certainly feel that just have a couple of hardware units can bring some additional life to the tracks making them sound a bit more 3D which could be only my opinion but I certainly feel this way. What G24 did and Fairchild did to my sound when I tried them on mixanalog was very pleasing to my ears. I would certainly want to have Gyraf gear in my studio sometime in the future.

Not thinking of building everything with analog but just having a few units which do what they do best. For now I have decided to go with IGS and some users have sent me samples processing my own music with a pleasant difference. When considering price, availability in India and features, I think this is giving me a good ratio to add something to the chain which adds value. Afterall for me it's mostly about the engineer than the gear or plugins
All your inputs are really valuable to me.
Old 19th August 2020
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by music.shft View Post
I agree with the fact that plugins are really advanced these days and they offer quite a lot with instant recall and flexibility. But I do certainly feel that just have a couple of hardware units can bring some additional life to the tracks making them sound a bit more 3D which could be only my opinion but I certainly feel this way. What G24 did and Fairchild did to my sound when I tried them on mixanalog was very pleasing to my ears. I would certainly want to have Gyraf gear in my studio sometime in the future.

Not thinking of building everything with analog but just having a few units which do what they do best. For now I have decided to go with IGS and some users have sent me samples processing my own music with a pleasant difference. When considering price, availability in India and features, I think this is giving me a good ratio to add something to the chain which adds value. Afterall for me it's mostly about the engineer than the gear or plugins
All your inputs are really valuable to me.
The Tubecore (mix bus duties) has definitely yielded some pretty nice results. I'm still in the getting to know it phase, and I'm finding all sorts of ways it can be used. For instance on the track I have on now, the long release times sound very smooth and transparent, and tonally it's giving me some nice dimension.

Last edited by engmix; 19th August 2020 at 07:32 AM..
Old 19th August 2020
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surbitone View Post
For me, the pro's outweigh the cons - it has absolutely nothing to do with my susceptibility to marketing. I use my ears and have re-invested everything into my monitoring and acoustics.

I've had more analogue pieces than I could care to count, but the quality of my output has consistently increased whilst the time taken to complete work has significantly decreased. I love the tactility of analogue and the sound of many pieces , but for me, personally, it's no longer worth the hassles.
If we're talking mixing session, when you have to recall 5 pieces of gear for a single vocal track for exemple, then yes plugins are attractive in that regard (but still not as "good" sounding as analog hardware imho). But if we are speaking mastering, then a good monitoring and listening environment will "show" you that the so called "emulations" are so FAR OFF real hardware...
Old 19th August 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Pand Sound Mastering View Post
If we're talking mixing session, when you have to recall 5 pieces of gear for a single vocal track for exemple, then yes plugins are attractive in that regard (but still not as "good" sounding as analog hardware imho). But if we are speaking mastering, then a good monitoring and listening environment will "show" you that the so called "emulations" are so FAR OFF real hardware...
But there are undeniably fantastic sounding digital processors, and there has been for some time. The longer I've spent mastering, the more I seem to value precision tools, and these, more often than not, are DSP.

I'm not bashing analogue here, nor am I making the claim that emulations are a 1:1 reproduction of the hardware they are copying. All tools have their place, but in my workflow, I generally prefer well-built digital tools. Do I miss a few pieces of gear? Yes, absolutely, I do. But I don't need hardware to deliver great results, despite enjoying the use of some pieces.
Old 19th August 2020
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surbitone View Post
But there are undeniably fantastic sounding digital processors, and there has been for some time. The longer I've spent mastering, the more I seem to value precision tools, and these, more often than not, are DSP.

I'm not bashing analogue here, nor am I making the claim that emulations are a 1:1 reproduction of the hardware they are copying. All tools have their place, but in my workflow, I generally prefer well-built digital tools. Do I miss a few pieces of gear? Yes, absolutely, I do. But I don't need hardware to deliver great results, despite enjoying the use of some pieces.
What I'm loving these days technically and creatively speaking, are the latest tools that are digitally controlled with an all analog signal path. Total recall, automation on the fly, and DAW connectivity.
Old 20th August 2020
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
What I'm loving these days technically and creatively speaking, are the latest tools that are digitally controlled with an all analog signal path. Total recall, automation on the fly, and DAW connectivity.
Agree. I'm a big fan of the Access.analog and the Mix.analog analog/remoted/online systems currently under development. Expecting a lot from this technology.

Just throwing VCA's or digipots in there, not so much.

/Jakob E.
Old 20th August 2020
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyraf View Post
Agree. I'm a big fan of the Access.analog and the Mix.analog analog/remoted/online systems currently under development. Expecting a lot from this technology.

Just throwing VCA's or digipots in there, not so much.

/Jakob E.
Would love to see your gear on Access Analog!
Old 20th August 2020
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surbitone View Post
But there are undeniably fantastic sounding digital processors, and there has been for some time. The longer I've spent mastering, the more I seem to value precision tools, and these, more often than not, are DSP.

I'm not bashing analogue here, nor am I making the claim that emulations are a 1:1 reproduction of the hardware they are copying. All tools have their place, but in my workflow, I generally prefer well-built digital tools. Do I miss a few pieces of gear? Yes, absolutely, I do. But I don't need hardware to deliver great results, despite enjoying the use of some pieces.
I know you weren't bashing analog, sorry if it seemed I meant that, really it wasn't my intention
Now, again in my opinion, good sounding plugins ? yes. Very good sounding plugins ? (Weiss, Unisum etc..) yes. But "fantastic" sounding ? Well that's the analog hardware for me. And I did try maaaany times over. To do a fully digital master vs Hybrid where analog is implied as much as digital, and the result are for me, and my clients, undeniable. And it goes so much faster aswell. 2 key factors that can't be challenged if you do this professionnaly.
And the client, which is not into the "digital vs hardware" thing, will simply hear the better quality (of the analog process involved), and choose this one 100% over and over. I even tried that with some long time clients, and they choose analog all the time.
Last but not least, I'm still "saving" a lot of track that has been mastered by some so called mastering studios (not targeting anyone here) which are in fact just a computer loaded with plugins, and an average pair of monitors like mid range Adam audio or so.

Now to come back to the OP, what I'm saying here involves High end analog gears. As it has been said previously, you should invest in things by priorities :
Greatly treated room, and great monitors FIRST. Otherwise you won't really "hear" what's going on, and even some amazing tools like a Knif Audio Vari mu II will sound average.
Then the gears, and yes it is better to buy maybe only ONE High end Compressor and one Eq, then several "mid" range gears.
There are many choices here, and some hidden gems on the used market. I would consider :

Spl Iron, HCL Varis or Islander, Thermionic Phoenix. But it also depends what kind of music you are mainly working with ?
Old 20th August 2020
  #29
Gear Guru
I’ve gone pretty much all Acqua except for 1k Tape. Just deeper and more detailed.... Analogue coming in.

Love Algos but just not getting the same spaciousness.... using less helps also!....

No pro here making demos. The guys at work can rock anything and it sings....I send mine out for that reason. Cheaper than you might think for my bedroom brethren. You learn a lot too....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Here for the gear
 

I would recommend you to try to find a used Dramastic Obsidian. It's an SSL-type (VCA) bus compressor. I bought one used and it has since become the compressor I use the most. It doesn't color so much, it just makes the mix big and tight. The stereo imaging is amazing, the mix gets a lot of wider. The best thing is that it's very easy to use and any mix will sound better after going thru it.

I also have API 2500 which I use now and then (mostly for rock mixes) in addition to the Obsidian. It is not as easy to use as the Obsidian and a lot more coloring.
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