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C1 Vs. C2 Alan Smart Compressors Dynamics Plugins
Old 31st January 2003
  #1
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Thread Starter
C1 Vs. C2 Alan Smart Compressors

So...

I've used the C1. I was in a Neve digital room and really wanted an SSL quad for my 2 mix, at in a last minute late night squeeze the studio found a C1 which the Studio Manager told me was "the same only better".
You know how people say stuff like "Deep down, Johnny is a good boy, he just does bad things every once and a while"? Well, in general, Studio Managers are "Deep down assholes, tehy just do good things every once and a while". I digress.
So I get this C1 and strap it across my 2 mix. It was exactly what I needed. I tweeked knobs just to get to know the unit, but had my 2 mix compression (a hard, firm 'electro' compression is what I was looking for) by the time the song ended. Good stuff.
The C2 comes out and of course I expect it to be new and improved. However most of the 'hear say' I run into states that they like the C1 more. What gives? I understand the C2 has a side chain and a "crush" fuction. Neato, but I thought the made used for C1's was on the 2 mix anyway.
What are the differences? What are the street prices between the two? Where are my car keys?
Old 31st January 2003
  #2
I wonder what the difference between the various models soundwise is?

SSL
C1
C2

I have an SSL compressor.

Jules
Old 31st January 2003
  #3
Smart Research
 

I'd love to hear some thoughts on this….

Al.
Old 31st January 2003
  #4
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Bernd G's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Lovely to have you all here. I have heard fantastic things about the C1 and C2. I am was about to purchase an SSL compressor when the Smart was recommended as an alternative. Of course, the industry out there is crawling with people telling something "sounds just like the xxx thing". My first question is how the SSL and the Smart (C1 or C2) are different electronically and how that would affect the sound that one perceives.

My second question goes to Little Labs. I think you make a box that allows you to continuously vary the phase between two inputs. My students often have problems adjusting the overall phase of drum overhead mics to the individual close microphones (i.e. on the snare and kick drum). Often just flipping the whole set 180 degree is a very limited option. Would your box help in this instance and how is this different sonically from simply moving tracks by samples on a digital workstation? Thank you so much for your informative answers.

B.G.
Old 31st January 2003
  #5
Re: C1 Vs. C2 Alan Smart Compressors

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
So...

What are the street prices between the two?

C2 is around $2500-$2600

C1(dual mono)-$2100-$2200

C1 stereo-$1700-$1900
Old 1st February 2003
  #6
Gear nut
 

Well there you have it.

The C2 is about $300-$400 better than the C1, which is $200-$400 better than the SSL.
Old 1st February 2003
  #7
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Mike Tholen's Avatar
 

why does the C2 sound so harsh compared to the C1?
Old 1st February 2003
  #8
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

C2, C2, C2, C2, C2, C2.... Gee what a COOL comp... altho i must admit i aint heard the C1 but i sure as **** love the C2.... MIX, overheads, bass, kik.

It TOTALLY has a sound and its 'kinda' forward....LOL but its so me..

Please keep this thread going as i would edarly love some input on the sonic differences between the 2?

Al surely u must have some idea?

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 1st February 2003
  #9
Smart Research
 

on sonic differences.....I' sort of want to listen more through you guy's ears than 'rant'from the inside of my boxes...but heres a trial tech-rant. Stop me if I get carried away, OK ?

A big issue with me is degredation of slew rate performance, instability, (often at 100's of Khz), 'ringing' and the other factors introduced when you connect stuff together to ugly loads in real situations. Never quantified in spec sheets, but paramount in day to day use.

Of course everything works fine on the bench if all you measure are frequency response and level. Does the Pope live in the woods ?

This boils down to the C2 getting discrete transistor outputs; so, current drive and stability to shrug off nonlinear loading effects. Like long cables with transformers at the other end, or ATR100's multed together etc. or maybe just an average multicore. This easy stuff really does bugger up 80% of gear. Did anyone for instance just try connecting one leg of an 888 output to an unbalanced input through a 20ft mic cable ? Our's oscillated at 400KHz at -10dB's. I digress...

I then went for dynamic range in the C2....and got 6dB's improvement in headroom with symmetrical VCA/and signal path arrangement; (discrete outputs also increased the headroom over opamps, which can have subtle distortion increases before clipping). Then, attention was paid to VCA operating currents (for noise); and very low control port impedances (for distortion). The symmetrical VCA arrangement cancels coherent distortion products (so distortion improves further)

Are you bored yet ? Next rant though I think I can answer Mikes's question some from a different angle......

Al.
Old 1st February 2003
  #10
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yeah that was pretty boring...I used a C2 at Sunset Sound and I thought it was broken. I had the kid switch it for a C1, worked perfect.
he said the C2 was new and C1 was a few years old.
the C2 sound harsh/brittle to me and everyone else in the room.
WTF?
Old 1st February 2003
  #11
Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Tholen
yeah that was pretty boring...I used a C2 at Sunset Sound and I thought it was broken. I had the kid switch it for a C1, worked perfect.
he said the C2 was new and C1 was a few years old.
the C2 sound harsh/brittle to me and everyone else in the room.
WTF?
Maybe someone had the sidechain switches selected by mistake. They are balanced inputs instead of unbalanced connections.

Also on the back there is a switch that selects 3 different settings(i think balanced,unbalanced and the third?). I have noticed on different settings the output is different(does this make sense Al?).

Lastly the Crush setting adds a little high freq boost to both channels(not individual). It also sounds like the low mids get dropped. I think its some kind of FET circuit on top of the That VCA. I think Al correct me if I am wrong, the idea was to replicate the talkback monitor on the SSL?

The Crush thing is an either or thing. You either like it or you hate it. Most of the times that i have used a C2 i use it mainly on drums. The Crush thing works sometimes. Its an effect(Al too bad we couldn't control the hi filter circuit).

The C1 to my ears sounds closer to the SSL comp. Just a tad more chunkier, not as "neutral" sounding.

But remember the outboard unit sounds different than the one in a G console. More open sounding.

I think there is only really (2)settings that work on it.

By the way Al, did you make the C1 dual mono now because lots of people asked for it?(JJP for instance?)
Old 2nd February 2003
  #12
Smart Research
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Tholen
yeah that was pretty boring...I used a C2 at Sunset Sound and I thought it was broken. I had the kid switch it for a C1, worked perfect.
he said the C2 was new and C1 was a few years old.
the C2 sound harsh/brittle to me and everyone else in the room.
WTF?
mmm, I have a feeling you were shorting one output leg, which is naughty. Do your speakers sound good when shorted ?

Sunset emailed about this before they worked out that some of their consoles have unbalanced inputs. What you have to do is select the C2 rear switches to be pin 2 unbalanced, Balanced, or pin 3 unbalanced.

You could ask the kid to do it for you....but ask him politely, OK ?
Old 2nd February 2003
  #13
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Mike Tholen's Avatar
 

it wasn't a pin issue.
I've since figured it was just a part of the C2 sound.
I found that I like the C1 much better.
so back to the question at hand...why does the C2 sound harsh compared to the C1?
best regards, MIKE
Old 2nd February 2003
  #14
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by the way, I absolutly LOVE my C1. I use it everyday.
I just wish it had a sidechain filter or input.grudge
anyway for a quick mod?
Old 3rd February 2003
  #15
Smart Research
 

OK, this post was mostly spot on, and I'd sort of suggest that the 5534 opamps/outputs of the C1 are more likely to add a 'flavour' than the C2 circuitry:

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
the Crush setting adds a little high freq boost to both channels(not individual). It also sounds like the low mids get dropped. I think its some kind of FET circuit on top of the That VCA. I think Al correct me if I am wrong, the idea was to replicate the talkback monitor on the SSL?


The C1 to my ears sounds closer to the SSL comp. Just a tad more chunkier, not as "neutral" sounding.
So yes, crush invokes some pretty harsh changes, and was the result of requests to investigate various well loved FET compressors.

Other big differences affecting C1/C2 sound are probably: C1's sidechain has an upper limit on attack time, (and is therefore a bit 'kinder'on fast settings!). the C2 speed was increased to allow the 'zero' attack setting, and the next fastest settings perhaps became keener.Using these (particularly with crush selected), you can easily 'slice' into a cycle at 200Hz or above.

The C1 could be modded for sidechain inputs,or maybe fixed LF filters pretty easily.....give me a few days thought....!

Al.
Old 3rd February 2003
  #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb

Sunset emailed about this before they worked out that some of their consoles have unbalanced inputs. What you have to do is select the C2 rear switches to be pin 2 unbalanced, Balanced, or pin 3 unbalanced.

Hey Alan --

I bugged Paul for a long time to get your compressors!

I was the one at Sunset Sound who discovered this little issue. A lot of older consoles [API and old Neves in particular] have unbalanced insert returns, and that is where the problem existed. The 'low' pin is attatched to the ground on those consoles, I believe. I have a quick question for you:

I have a very early version of the C2 [serial number 2, I think], and was wondering if you have done any circuit upgrades/mods that are worth upgrading on my current unit. I do have the early backplate with the pin-lift switches on it. I use the thing all the time -- mixing, of course, but I also really like it on the kick when I track, and for various overdubs.
Thanks,

John Paterno
Old 3rd February 2003
  #17
Hey I met you with J.Little on a night out last NYC AES. We went to a mad club altogether...

Old 3rd February 2003
  #18
Kev
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Kev's Avatar
 

Cool

Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb
....
Are you bored yet ? Next rant though I think I can answer Mikes's question some from a different angle......
Nope,
more ranting please . yuktyy
Old 4th February 2003
  #19
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muddy's Avatar
 

getting back onto your compressors, alan, one of my closest friends is kinda responsible for putting the ssl's quad compressor on the map. his name is chris lord (he's done heaps of work in oz, btw), and he tends to provoke intense hate & jealousy amongst his peers. how do you feel about him?


ml
Old 4th February 2003
  #20
Smart Research
 

Quote:
Originally posted by paterno
Hey Alan --
I was the one at Sunset Sound who discovered this little issue. A lot of older consoles [API and old Neves in particular] have unbalanced insert returns, and that is where the problem existed. The 'low' pin is attatched to the ground on those consoles, I believe.
John Paterno
Thanks John !
I agonised for ages about the choice of output for the C2. 99% of inputs are balanced these days, but I did overlook some fine sounding consoles...

My own preference is to choose when to add the artefacts introduced by transformers, and to extend the C2's use at the more purist/mastering end of the spectrum I ruled them out. Then, there are serious drawbacks with the standard electronic balanced circuit (used by everyone) as a result of positive feedback. Its great at 0db....so I went with the switches !

Regarding mods, I'm now travelling, and back in the office I'll confirm the choices, however there has been very little change. You have the best VCA's still, and there was one improvemant to a 100hz component in the noise floor at -104dB on one channel, but nothing else comes to mind..

Al.
Old 4th February 2003
  #21
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Hey I met you with J.Little on a night out last NYC AES. We went to a mad club altogether...

Yep -

that was me! That place was kinda cool -- I can't remember how we ended up there though. Expensive drinks - that I do remember...

Cheers!!

-john


PS -- Thanks Alan for your reply...
Old 7th February 2003
  #22
Smart Research
 

so much to say....such a slow typist......heres a few more points for good measure.

I feel the order of significance in issues comparing the C1 and C2 is first, dynamic performance, (their main 'flavour' in use) followed secondly by statutory performance--spec stuff such as noise floor, output drive/stability, headroom etc etc. So, lots of my previous posts effect the latter category more. In category 1, its worth expanding the point of slower sidechain speed mentioned earlier. The C1 the sidechain chips are fairly low output impedance, and driving slugging capacitors, such that not only can they not slew beyond a certain speed, but the shape of that ramp is also significant and being superimposed on the sidechain signal. This is then adding to the C1 sound, but at the fast settings only, and can optionally be seen as a disadvantage as you can set the slower speeds up with the C2 anyway; but what you can't do is hit as fast spikes with a C1.

So, I'm big on choice of flavour, and the statutary specs for me mostly then fall into the idea of more transparency providing more choice. So, the dynamic performance of the C1 and C2 were designed to be identical, (moderated by shortcomings within the C1 sidechain as above) but with the C2 getting added settings (and Crush) and going right back to fundamental improvements with all other 'statutary' performance issues...as previous posts...and including distortion, noise, dynamic range etc.

There are going to be many other design factors adding in to this debate, (immeasurable, unmentioned, or unnoticed !) but I think we have now revealed the right basic model, sort of pyramid shaped, and we've probably described what the most important top half of it looks like.......!

Al.
Old 13th February 2003
  #23
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entropy's Avatar
I've been on holiday for a long while so hence my slow response to this thread.

Alan, I love the C2! And the feature I really batter is the crush function on snares. My only gripe on that front is that crush is stereo linked..... so invaribly I'm only using one side when mixing.

While we're on the subject of crush, has anyone else found the "super crush" setting? Kind of like the old Urei trick of mashing all the ratio buttons in, you just put the ratio knob between ratios (can't remember which ones, oh endless holiday!). I only had occaision to use it once but it worked a treat!
Old 13th February 2003
  #24
Al,
I think as a guest you've been pretty straight up so far.
Here's a bouncer for you to fend off....
Would it be worth owning both a Smart and an SSL FX 384 compressor?
Lot's of my friends own and love their C1's, but I've had an SSL for a few years and can't see myself selling it anytime soon. I also can't afford to have two similar sounds (worth over £1,500) in my arsenal.
I'm sure they are different - the C2 as well - but are they that different?
Old 14th February 2003
  #25
Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
Would it be worth owning both a Smart and an SSL FX 384 compressor?
I'm sure they are different - the C2 as well - but are they that different?
Hey I am not Al,

but the answer in my opinion is yes.

I prefer the C2 on individual kicks and snares. Its also great on the drumsub,drum loops,acoustic guitar and the occasional vocal.

The SSL FX 384 is excellent on the drumsub,strings sub, and if you like the sound...over all mix(I prefer something else).

By the way, the C2 in crush mode works great on an electric guitar sub.

Yeah they do sound different. The C2 is flashier(and clearer) and the FX 384 is chunkier(but more solid in the mids).
Old 15th February 2003
  #26
Smart Research
 

Quote:
Originally posted by entropy
My only gripe on that front is that crush is stereo linked..... so invaribly I'm only using one side when mixing.

has anyone else found the "super crush" setting? Kind of like the old Urei trick of mashing all the ratio buttons in, you just put the ratio knob between ratios (can't remember which ones, oh endless holiday!). I only had occaision to use it once but it worked a treat!
Great.....dont go on holiday again ! these are great suggestions !...the ratio dodge would have the effect of 'open loop' ie flat out gain on the ratio; I have to go play with this some. And, one only switch for crush for both channels on the C2 was a tad minimalist I know, very sorry !
Old 15th February 2003
  #27
Smart Research
 

Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso

Would it be worth owning both a Smart and an SSL FX 384 compressor?
Lot's of my friends own and love their C1's, but I've had an SSL for a few years and can't see myself selling it anytime soon. I also can't afford to have two similar sounds (worth over £1,500) in my arsenal.
I'm sure they are different - the C2 as well - but are they that different?
well, probably the basic 'dynamic' response is similar between all flavours, but I've not actually analysed the SSL unit. I'd say the C2 is the most different: stereo linking 'spread' is much wider on the C1 and C2, output stage different on the C1, but the signal path is entirely differen; together with crush on the C2. Really, I should hurry up with the new gear I have planned, then I could have more stuff to offer you with expanded 'crush' functions....?

Al.
Old 15th February 2003
  #28
Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb
[BReally, I should hurry up with the new gear I have planned, then I could have more stuff to offer you with expanded 'crush' functions....?
Al. [/B]
I can wait
I've been thinking about the Api 2500 for a while and I still don't own a Distressor.
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