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Aphex Compellor 320a
Old 17th August 2011
  #1
Aphex Compellor 320a

Just picked one of these up for kicks. Didn't expect much, and I am blown away as to how good this sounds and how many different things it can do. I almost didn't buy it as some here, on GS, have said, 'it only really works for acoustic music' or 'It's too noisy' etc. FYI it sounds FANTASTIC on Rock music, and it's silent as an empty midnight field in Alaska! Did I get like the super version of this, or are people just rather thick when it comes to evaluating gear? I mean it looks very boring, nothing flashy at all, but even the metering is fantastic, i mean really high quality. It can drastically effect the sound or effect it just a little, all effortlessly and extremely transparently. It works wonders on the drum buss, awesome, really, I suppose the one thing that really bothers me about it, is that it doesn't have transformers. I mean how can anyone live without TRANSFORMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT!!!! Who F$%% cares about transformers, its driving me nuts that everyone has this transformer obsession. I mean if a piece of equipment sounds great and works well, WHO CARES!!!!!
End of rant sorry. What I really want to know is has anyone else had a similar experience with these machines?

DP
Old 18th August 2011
  #2
Oh c'mon? NO love for the Compellor?

DP
Old 18th August 2011
  #3
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Preamp View Post
Oh c'mon? NO love for the Compellor?

DP
Some love here. I have a pair and these days use them for parallel compression of acoustic instruments. Very useful in that application.
Old 18th August 2011
  #4
I primarily was looking for something to use in tandem with my Chandler Germanium Pres, for the mix bus. I know, it sounds weird, but those pres, with close attention paid to the settings, sound incredible on the mix, but obviously there is no compression going on, so the Aphex works beautifully with them as it provides effortless and transparent leveling and comp, while the germanium's provide a little of that glue and oomph, that's a technical term, that is necessary sometimes, well actually most times, on the mix.
I also was impressed with how well this works on rock mixes.

DP
Old 18th August 2011
  #5
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

I think the reason a lot of people don't like the Compellor is because they can't hear it doing anything! It doesn't put any "glue" or "mojo" or "hair" or "magic fairy dust" on the tracks, it just does what it's supposed to do: compresses and/or levels tracks ...invisibly.

I love 'em. I'm actually selling mine (older model 300) because I just don't use it often enough, but when I do use it it works like nothing else on the planet.
Old 19th August 2011
  #6
Bob Ross, Just out of curiosity, did you used to own a studio in Brisbane CA?

DP
Old 19th August 2011
  #7
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Preamp View Post
Bob Ross, Just out of curiosity, did you used to own a studio in Brisbane CA?
Nope.
Old 19th August 2011
  #8
Different Bob Ross. I recorded the majority of my first solo CD with an engineer named Bob J. Ross in Brisbane CA in '98. Cool.

The compellor I think stunned me in that it is SO good at what it does, and by doing what it does silently, you can coax out of it some very interesting and useful things without having to worry about how its mechanics changes the sound of the track, but rather how what it actually does can shape a sound. I really like it, and will probably buy several more to use in other ways.



DP
Old 19th August 2011
  #9
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Preamp View Post
Different Bob Ross. I recorded the majority of my first solo CD with an engineer named Bob J. Ross in Brisbane CA in '98. Cool.
There's also apparently a Bob Ross who produced some tracks for Motown in their waning days...I get asked about some work that he did too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Preamp View Post
I really like it, and will probably buy several more to use in other ways.
PM me if yer interested in a screaming deal on a model 300 Compellor
Old 14th January 2012
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Preamp View Post
Just picked one of these up for kicks. Didn't expect much, and I am blown away as to how good this sounds and how many different things it can do. I almost didn't buy it as some here, on GS, have said, 'it only really works for acoustic music' or 'It's too noisy' etc. FYI it sounds FANTASTIC on Rock music, and it's silent as an empty midnight field in Alaska! Did I get like the super version of this, or are people just rather thick when it comes to evaluating gear? I mean it looks very boring, nothing flashy at all, but even the metering is fantastic, i mean really high quality. It can drastically effect the sound or effect it just a little, all effortlessly and extremely transparently. It works wonders on the drum buss, awesome, really, I suppose the one thing that really bothers me about it, is that it doesn't have transformers. I mean how can anyone live without TRANSFORMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT!!!! Who F$%% cares about transformers, its driving me nuts that everyone has this transformer obsession. I mean if a piece of equipment sounds great and works well, WHO CARES!!!!!
End of rant sorry. What I really want to know is has anyone else had a similar experience with these machines?

DP
+1 similar experience with the Compellor 320A -
incredible compressor/leveler - if people would actually read the manual
they would understand how it works- and it works perfectly-
underrated in the extreme- a unique essential tool for my soundtrack work as a composer- ultra quiet - accurate- and super clean-
actually quite a bit of hi end engineering appears to have gone into it's development-
hit it for levels after you've got your color.
you want tight tracks that have electric guitar?....
try it - as a blindfold test and prepare to have your jaw dropped.
Old 14th January 2012
  #11
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Guitar Zero's Avatar
I've got one and it's perfect for acoustic guitar that just needs a little leveling but you don't want any added color. Very transparent compression.
Old 14th January 2012
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Zero View Post
I've got one and it's perfect for acoustic guitar that just needs a little leveling but you don't want any added color. Very transparent compression.
+1 Agree it is great on acoustic guitar tracks-
but also great on drums - and straight up electric guitar -
especially electric guitar that was recorded through an actual tube amp.
It does NOT alter your TONE!
If you happen to have a collection of vintage tube amps-
you might NOT want a compressor to add "additional color".

I have used the Compellor 320A on over 300 soundtrack mixes-
It is a "Hi End" pro tool- no gimmicks-
Anyone remember what the original price was on the Compellor 320A?
Old 14th January 2012
  #13
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Once you get away from all the prosumer "Big Bottom" stuff, Aphex made some wonderful tools. The Expressors, Compellors, Gates, and early Excitors are great studio tools and are at amazing bang for the buck used prices (9000 series modules are a real bargain). Big fan here!
Old 14th January 2012
  #14
Gear Head
 
tmix's Avatar
 

This sounds exactly like something I need.
I have always wanted extremely invisible dynamics riding on Drums, Guitars and Vocals.
I need to find some.
Is everyone using them mostly to mix ? I'd rather track with them first (set lightly) then use them againg at mix if I did not control things good enough.
Old 14th January 2012
  #15
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sonic dogg's Avatar
I have a pair of Compellors and Expressors in my DBX 900 rack. Parallel compression with the DBX 903 and the Compellor doing the make-up gain on acoustic guitar is simply fabulous.
Old 14th January 2012
  #16
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Radio stations in Australia have been known to use them as their main output comp precisely because they can really grab without sounding like it.
Cheers, Ross
Old 14th January 2012
  #17
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stravinsky View Post
Anyone one remember what the original price was on the Compellor 320A?
istr it was something in the ~$1,100 MSRP ballpark.
Old 15th January 2012
  #18
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
istr it was something in the ~$1,100 MSRP ballpark.
That's what I remember too.
Old 15th January 2012
  #19
I've had mine for over 20 years now and it has been a faithful servant in the leveling department. It's not everyone's cup of tea and isn't the best 'transient designer' in the world, but it's a fantastic leveler for program material and for tracking vocals. I found it much more useful in the tape application than the DAW application.
Old 15th January 2012
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
istr it was something in the ~$1,100 MSRP ballpark.
That was a serious gear purchase in early 1990's dollars-
What is the equivalent $ amount in 2012 dollars?
You get a clear sense that the Compellor 320A was aimed at the pro studio.
Old 19th January 2012
  #21
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stravinsky View Post

That was a serious gear purchase in early 1990's dollars-

What is the equivalent $ amount in 2012 dollars?

You get a clear sense that the Compellor 320A was aimed at the pro studio.
.
The first Compellor was introduced in 1983, and was mostly sold to radio stations, to provide the kind of leveling that they needed - ie: An automatic "slow hand on the fader", intended to make up for the fact that the amount of attention paid to proper levels by the air staff was (at best) somewhere between that which was paid to the cute chick walking by the window and the callers on the telephone.

As far as the effect of inflation on the cost of the Compellor: 1,100 smackers appears to work out to about $2,498.52 (last year), according to this website:
Inflation Calculator: Bureau of Labor Statistics
...That being said, I have personally found the Compellor to be especially useful in a mixing situation for ambiance mics captured during a live performance, or for a "clean version" of the Shure Level-Loc for drum room mics.
.
Old 19th January 2012
  #22
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jinksdingo's Avatar
I picked one up only half working and after a few pot replacements in one channel, working cleanly and transparently.

I wished it worked as well as the op's unit?

Mine just does gentle subtle transparent leveling!
Old 19th January 2012
  #23
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jinksdingo View Post
[...]
Mine just does gentle subtle transparent leveling!
Well, that IS (after all) what it was designed to do.

.
Old 15th March 2013
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Compellor

I hate to admit it, but I remember when the Compellor first hit town (London) in the early 80's and was pretty much hailed as the great new thing - Aphex had a status as being really technically innovative and the compellor was considered the business: Paul Groucho Smikle who was Sly and Robbie's engineer/remixer took one everywhere along with EV Sentry 100's. I love 'em - just bought one for a song recently. The problem is that some people seem to resent that it is too easy to use - but hard to hear it working out of context and it doesnt have the usual knobs that compressors (mainly vca's) tended to have back then....still the best agc around.....but these days it's best use as an agc is to use in tandem with a smoking fet comp (1176 if you all insist! - but some recent 500 series fet's seem to be pretty cool in this department).
Old 16th March 2013
  #25
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77James's Avatar
 

I was glad to see this thread because i have a few questions that someone drawn to this topic might be able to answer. First, does anyone know off the top of their heads what the difference between the 320 and the 320a is. And second, I've got a like new 320 here and I have a pre on the way that has no output attenuation. I was wondering if it might allow me to hit the input transformer on the pre a little harder for some transformer saturation color and wondered if I could reel it in and smooth it out at the ouput with the 320 before I go to my Apollo. Does that sound like a reasonable use for it. And while I'm at it, is this a decent compressor for the drum stem or the stereo mix when you just want to compress but don't want to add any color to an already fat sounding mix?
Thanks,

77
Old 16th March 2013
  #26
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 77James View Post
I was glad to see this thread because i have a few questions that someone drawn to this topic might be able to answer. First, does anyone know off the top of their heads what the difference between the 320 and the 320a is. And second, I've got a like new 320 here and I have a pre on the way that has no output attenuation. I was wondering if it might allow me to hit the input transformer on the pre a little harder for some transformer saturation color and wondered if I could reel it in and smooth it out at the ouput with the 320 before I go to my Apollo. Does that sound like a reasonable use for it. And while I'm at it, is this a decent compressor for the drum stem or the stereo mix when you just want to compress but don't want to add any color to an already fat sounding mix?
Thanks,

77
I have the original Compellor AX and like it a lot; particularly AC guitar and hand drums.

Provided your pre handles overdriving well, a Compellor can definitely be used to hand the signal smoothly on to your Apollo.
Old 16th March 2013
  #27
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Quote:
In 1991, Aphex released the Model 320 Dual/Stereo Compellor as an updated replacement for the Model 300 Stereo Compellor. The principle functions were retained but many improve- ments were implemented as well as new convenience features to make the Compellor even easier to install and use. One such improvement was the conversion to a new and improved proprietary VCA chip, the Aphex VCA1001, to replace the now obsolete 1537A. The great success of the model 320 soon led to the Model 323 single channel Compellor with Aural Exciter to replace the older Models 301 and 303.
?The Compellor has become the world standard audio level controller. Understandably, we are very proud of that fact!
?Page 8
?In 1994, Aphex introduced the current Compellor Models 320A and 323A. The model “A” revision signifies the inclusion of an improved patented Leveler circuit called the “Frequency Discriminate Leveler” (FDL) while all other aspects of the Model 320 remain the same. With the FDL, Compellors became even more transparent and useful than ever before.
Now, in 2003 (as this manual is being written), the Compellor is still the most advanced and effective audio level controller available. No all-digital products have been able to approach it. In this digital age, that builds a strong argument to add digital I/O capability to Compellors. This has been accomplished with the Model 320D which contains both analog and digital audio I/O capabilities.
Cheers
Old 16th March 2013
  #28
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77James's Avatar
 

Thank you!
Old 27th March 2013
  #29
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GYMusic's Avatar
I remember when these came out (320A 1994) and they were a "must have". Everyone seemed to over use it to the point where you could hear it working. I put mine into storage in 1995. I recently pulled it out and used it, sparingly, on a very dynamic mix. It really pulled the mix together. I had the drive controls set for just 2-4 dB of gain reduction. Helped get a tape sound without putting a new reel of tape on my ATR. Another hidden gem for nice AGC/leveling is the Symetrix 422. Set it for 2.5 : 1 and bypass the limiter. Just barely touch it.
Old 24th September 2014
  #30
Here for the gear
I use the 320a on my mix bus for live acoustic recording. I've tried other compressors; and it is the only one that doesn't seem to mitigate HF response.
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