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Best mix/master comp/lim for dance/pop ($6k budget)
Old 28th September 2011
  #1
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Best mix/master comp/lim for dance/pop ($6k budget)

Tried addressing too many issues at once in another thread, so it just ended up long winded with no responses. Let's start here.

Here is an example of something I've produced. It is all itb with just a touch of waves api2500 on the mb and -3db total gr from elephant... otherwise no mb processing.

I would like to purchase a compressor and/or limiter for the mix buss to use on similar material.

If you could process this with any gear for mixdown and/or mastering, what would you run it through?

My inclination at this moment is something like a varimu for vibe into something harder (faster) for limiting/density (nail, 2500 or p3s perhaps?)

Total budget... maybe $6k, but price is a major concern, so not interested in large outlay for minor improvements.

Anyway, that's a good place to start. Any thing that can do double duty with no compromises in terms of vocal compression gets a bonus nod.
Attached Files

aint nobody sample.mp3 (3.59 MB, 425 views)

Old 28th September 2011
  #2
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Very interested in whether something like quartet ii is useful on mixdown, and the more reading I do, the more it seems like obsidian may be the key for the hard-hitting part of the equation.

Any thoughts?

Something else to pair it with?

Is the 500 really the same thing with a few more options, or do they use smaller trannys or something because of the format (although I guess it's a double, so...)
Old 29th September 2011
  #3
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Since research seems to be leading me to obsidian, how about this:

What is the best COMPLIMENT for the obsidian? If it's doing the ssl thing, would I be better off with something like vm for a touch of gooiness, or something like charter oaks for invisible density or...

Since I need vocal compressor too, does that make the charter oaks a perfect fit on both ends? Or would the liminator be a better choice for those same tasks?
Old 29th September 2011
  #4
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Obisidian and Phoenix Mastering Comp are a great combo.
Old 29th September 2011
  #5
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I've never used the pheonix, but based on what I've read, that combo might well be my first choice... except I'm over budget at that point... which might be acceptable if I can do so in a way that also handles all my vocal input needs.

So generally on mb, obsidian for smack/pump and something else for character (vm type?)... as opposed to something else for limiting?

Was also wondering about things like aurora with both comp and limiting in same unit.
Old 29th September 2011
  #6
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I'd say: if you do electronic music you would need something like SSL/Alan Smart C2 or Focusrite Red3 alongside something thick on the back end. In that order.

The Shadow Hills Master Compressor might be worth a shot, as it combines both into one impressive unit.

Or get an Alan Smart C2 (API won't make you happy IMO) and a Vari-mu type like the Phoenix or a Pendulum ES-8.
Old 29th September 2011
  #7
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Well, I haven't tried many of these, so just going by what I've read.

I have tried the c2, though, and thought it really lacked personality... now if it's just being used for leveling and personality is elsewhere (obsidian), then it might work.

Was also considering nail in it's spot.

Also stretching budget to do two pendulum q2's, but I'd get eq that way which could be used for tracking and for mb... but wondering how useful the fet limiting would be on mixdown... and thinking I' still probably want obsidian which puts me way over.

I have used api a few times, and I'm a bit concerned about lack of control over obsidian as opposed to something liket the api... never used obsidian tho. Api always sounded a bit hard edged to me. It got that bounce, but not always in a good way.

So that bouncing magical ducking thing... I'm getting it from the vm end of things? Never really spent any real time with a vm on mixbuss.

Shadow hills is a possibility, although I've heard the vandergraphs are quite dark, and I definitely tend to need to add high end to get anywhere near my references... trying to do as little eq as possible.

If I can get a good bouncy sound with a decent smooth high end sheen without eq, that's a plus.

edit: Never tried tracking vox through a vm type comp.

2 things have got me thinking about the charter oaks although it appears to fill none of my initial requirements:

1 ability to do vocal tracking too
2 ability to do enough real gr to get me closer to mastered density with minimum of digital brickwall required.

Maybe it's not the best for either of those, tho. Between it and obsidian, I'd still be lacking the real character piece... and lacking the c2 type limiting.

Never used the red. Also considering looking at the compression from more technical perspective and then running mix through tube/transformer stage inline... so not necessarily expecting the sheen and slowing of transients from compressor in that case.
Old 29th September 2011
  #8
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Been reading up on gtc2... it might just be a great value in my case if it can do all my vocal needs too.

Any thoughts on it's pairing with obsidian?
Old 30th September 2011
  #9
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Is there anyone who's used the obsidian on anything dance oriented that DOESN'T think it's a good fit? If so, why?
Old 30th September 2011
  #10
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read up on pheonix, but it's just too much money, so it's out.

Plenty of vari-mus out there, so it should be easy enough to find somthing close, right? What about knif? Pendulum? manley?

Also... What is it exactly about the red?
Old 30th September 2011
  #11
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read up on pheonix, but it's just too much money, so it's out. The only way I could swing that one is if it did all of my tracking AND all of my mixdown needs... and I just don't see it doing that.

Plenty of vari-mus out there, so it should be easy enough to find somthing close, right? What about knif? Pendulum? manley?

Also... What is it exactly about the red?

Also... really seems to be only a few people with input on gtc2. I understand why, but I'd love to hear from someone else on that one as it may be a good fit for front/back duties.
Old 30th September 2011
  #12
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Actually pretty well set on at least demoing the obsidian at this point, so how about just this:

What would be best paired with it for mixdown/mastering?
Old 30th September 2011
  #13
Old 30th September 2011
  #14
A vari-mu wouldn't be my first choice for dance music .. maybe rock.

Maselec ml3 or Tube tech smc 2b might be worth checking out.
Old 2nd October 2011
  #15
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...at the moment , My mixbuss looks like this: waves low and linearPhase (filtering off about 20hz or so and perhaps a small dip around 250) going into a waves ssl compressor doing between 1 and 3 db's gain reduction then into the Phoenix compressor doing 1 or 2db's then maybe a couple of db's boost with a software eq for air. The Phoenix is fantastic for clout and tone but I have found for programmed dance type stuff that requires a really tight groove you need something faster, grabbier and tighter in there. I too have been contemplating getting a piece of hardware to replace the waves ssl and looking at the rolls and the tk bus comps as they are a good deal cheaper than the real deal. You will love a varimu if you get one so, much tone and depth and for some stuff it will work on it's own. The waves ssl is effective in it's action but for me I find it a little flat and 2d, so I would hope that 2 quality of hardware on the buss would be better than 1
Old 3rd October 2011
  #16
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Any insights into pairing with obsidian?
Old 1st November 2011
  #17
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Well, I finally got the chance to try an obsidian on mix buss at a friend's place yesterday. He had only borrowed it, so I don't have access in the future unless I buy or rent one.

Bottom line: I loved it. Seems like just the ticket for my stuff, and the lack of fiddly bits is a plus since I'd likely spend forever tweaking too many knobs.

Now he had the rack unit, and I'm assuming from what Ive read that the 500 is really the same sound, trannies and all except for extra control (over the sidechain filter if I remember correctly)

Anyway, money has hit a snag (delay that will be worked out), so I've got a little time to figure out the rest.

Basically, at this point, I'm pretty sure I want an obsidian. Question is... what about the rest of the chain?

Since I have a duet 2 now with their softclip, I was thinking about trying out going out into the obsidian, and seeing what it sounds like to do a db or so of softclip on the way back to lessen the need for digital brickwall.

Anyone doing that (specifically with apogee softclip?) Is that a good idea? No?

And/or... should I be pairing something with the obsidian? Running a vm style after as a couple local buddies have suggested? ... or just focus on some kind of analog limiter... again, wondering if there are ways to get the density up with less brickwall limiting.

To that end as well, I'm still wondering about the charter oaks... since it appears to be quite transparent and capable of large amounts of compression... wondering if it might be the density tool, and really lessen the amount of final limiting needed.

Trying to read up as much as I can too on how certain tracks are being processed so the drums survive and sound right (Chris Brown's "Look at me Now" and Pitbull/J-Lo "On the Floor" come to mind)

Thoughts?

Obsidain + ?
Old 1st November 2011
  #18
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Am I on the right track as far as pairing?

My thoughts are that the obsidian reaches partway into the waveform, does a bit of pumping, etc.

So... I don't want another comp that does that, but am a bit torn between whether I should also have something that grabs most if not all of the waveform and does an overall very low ratio transparent compression .. or relatively transparent with a bit of smoothing (charter oaks perhaps... or some kind of optical?)

... or if I should skip that and do some sort of of limiting with a much higher threshold, and high ratio that basically deals with the drum machines better than something like elephant would.

Obsidian gives me the vibe I want, but not the density, so which of the above approaches should I couple with it?
Old 3rd November 2011
  #19
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Actually, I'm a bit surprised at the lack of discussion on here about the charter oaks. The videos look amazing.

Not rally sure if it would work well in my scenario, tho.

I can demo a piece or two, but won't have funds to demo several units at once... so trying to whittle down the contenders.

Obsidian (ssl style, wide image, slight sheen) plus ?
Old 4th November 2011
  #20
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Would Charter Oaks SCL-1 doing low ratio, low threshold compression over the whole mix into obsidian doing more of the rhythmic grab thing make sense? (Followed by very mild soft-clip and finished with very mild digital brickwall... in this case apogee into elephant)
Old 4th November 2011
  #21
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............hey apollo....yeah charter oak looks really interesting agree.....been wanting one of these for a while....sems to have a few unnique features.....not least being able to do huge amounts of gr transparently.....and considering this is the cradle of audio acquistiveness, I'm surprised there aren't more user reports. That said guess you have to decide whethet you want the tight punchy ssl thing and then utter transparency or the tight ssl thing and then a bit of mojo and colour a la varimu compression. I have a phoenix and great as it is, for the kind of stuff you do you'll probably want to hit your mixbus with something tighter first....then a db or so from the phoenix will give you great colour and texture which is unique.
Old 4th November 2011
  #22
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Well, that's really the crux of it.

Do I want ssl style first, then a touch of vm (1-2 db)

Or... might it be better to do more low ratio full waveform squashing with charter oaks in conjunction with ssl?

For as amazing as those videos are, actual user info is a bit sparse with the charter oaks. I've read every thread available, but not sure about using it in conjunction with obsidian.
Old 6th November 2011
  #23
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Trying again...

What TYPE of thing should I try pairing witht the obsidian's ssl style compression?

Invisible full waveform like Charter Oaks? Harder limiting (smart?) Tube smoothing in low doses (vari-mu?)

Never paired ssl style with anything, and looking for a general direction here.
Old 10th November 2011
  #24
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Still trying to wrap my head around compound options as I've never used more than one comp on a mixbuss... and not sure whether it would suit the material or not.

If I were to put some sort of vm after the obsidian (ssl style), then what sort of settings would be appropriate since it's already got the grab part handled?

Also, is anyone out there using something like an ssl and also a charter oaks... not sure whether it would make sense to get an overall squeeze with charter oaks, and a pump going with ssl.
Old 10th November 2011
  #25
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try the RND Portico 5043 in feedback mode.

you can use it for recording, on the mixbuss and for the stereo-sum as well.

very versatile. it's the dedicated compressor with the Neve 5088 console.

you'd better chick it out
Old 10th November 2011
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonardo_007 View Post
try the RND Portico 5043 in feedback mode.

you can use it for recording, on the mixbuss and for the stereo-sum as well.

very versatile. it's the dedicated compressor with the Neve 5088 console.

you'd better chick it out
Thanks for the recomendation Leonardo, I would also strongly suggest you check this out:

Rupert Neve Designs – Portico II – Master Buss Processor

Apollo - You very likely would only need this one!

Or for double duty 2 of these:

http://rupertneve.com/products/portico-ii/ [With more EQ and more features than just the 5043]


Good luck in your search!
Old 10th November 2011
  #27
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I had considered getting 2 portico ii channel strips. I could use both eq's although they're pretty limited at mixdown time. De-essing might come in handy. I hear the comp is quite good for vocals, etc.

However.... after some experimentation with various comps, a bit of back and forth with mastering, etc... I'm pretty well convinced I need something like an ssl buss comp for the particular sound I'm going for.

Unless it does a very similar grab/pump, it may be great, but I'd still want the obsidian. If not... well, I doubt it's the other flavor I want since it's supposedly very clean sounding, etc... a second comp like a vm would be as much for tone as anything.

I certainly wouldn't mind having one of those channel strips for tracking, though.

Can't say I've heard the 5043, though, so it's possible that it's just the ticket and I don't know it yet.
Old 10th November 2011
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo Soul View Post
I had considered getting 2 portico ii channel strips. I could use both eq's although they're pretty limited at mixdown time. De-essing might come in handy. I hear the comp is quite good for vocals, etc.

However.... after some experimentation with various comps, a bit of back and forth with mastering, etc... I'm pretty well convinced I need something like an ssl buss comp for the particular sound I'm going for.

Unless it does a very similar grab/pump, it may be great, but I'd still want the obsidian. If not... well, I doubt it's the other flavor I want since it's supposedly very clean sounding, etc... a second comp like a vm would be as much for tone as anything.

I certainly wouldn't mind having one of those channel strips for tracking, though.

Can't say I've heard the 5043, though, so it's possible that it's just the ticket and I don't know it yet.
then please do yourself a favour and check it.

here is a thread initiated by Greg Wells, former Mika producer who revealed its capabilites.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-...or-smokes.html

besides, it'd be way below your budget, you could take the rest of the money and buy the ingredients for a drip fairchild, take some talented engineer and build a $40.000 legend.

i purchased my 5043 at ebay for about 1k€.

good luck.
Old 10th November 2011
  #29
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by the way, Greg Wells is a big guy, 2x grammy nominated and who has worked with real big people, check his website:
GregWells.net

again, the 5088 is one of the most sought after consoles out there, and if you'd get one, the 5043 is the goto compressor on it, so what!?
especially if you like to do the modern stuff - from my point of view there's only one choice: 5043.
let your ears decide.
Old 10th November 2011
  #30
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Read most of that thread now.

Interesting.


Anyone that can give a detailed breakdown of how it handles heavy lifting on dance music vs something like obsidian?

My stuff tends to have the kick even a bit heavier than most pop/dance tracks these days, so how the comp deals with that is a big deal in my case.
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