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Importance of op amp in compressor? 500 Series Preamps
Old 20th December 2010
Importance of op amp in compressor?

I just got in the 500 series game, with an API lunchbox and my first unit is an API 512.
I have the Waves CLA classic compressor bundle and the Waves SSL bundle as well.

For outboard compression right now all I have is the Optical compressor on my Joe Meek 3Q. The knobs are in the middle, and of course this compressor has a fixed ratio.

I performed some systematic testing including recording acoustic guitar and vocals straight from the API into my apogee and then from API into the Meek using first the EQ section and the compressor followed by the compressor only.

What I noticed is that even without the mic pre or EQ section engaged that the Meek imparted some of it’s clinical/sterile sound to the source.
I actually preferred the recordings where I went straight from the API into the Apogee.

I would prefer to get the sound “there” as much as possible on the way in, and for me I like to compress stuff a little on the way in. My observation is that good hardware compressors seem to play a role in imparting life and vibe to a source, and so I am thinking of making my second lunchbox unit either an API 525, or 527 or maybe an Action compressor, instead of an MA5 or 1072 lb mic pre.

I am surmising from my experience thus far, that having a good op-amp in the outboard compressor might be crucial to keeping the warmth and presence that I am getting going directly from the API- Is that a fair statement? And further, that a quality outboard compressor my aid in getting some sound sculpting mojo on some sources.

Love to hear your thoughts
Old 21st December 2010

Let me get this straight:

The compressor was engaged and it sounded "clinical" or "sterile" and less so with the compressor dis-engaged?

I'd suggest that you really don't like the compressor without some other EQ added. You may also find that moving the mic a bit further back from the guitar and getting a bit more of the room in the recording could help - even adding reverb included with your software package will make it sound more lush, dirty and real....


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