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8500 euro to spend on Analog Compressors. Any thoughts?
Old 20th October 2012
  #1
8500 euro to spend on Analog Compressors. Any thoughts?

Hi, I ‘m planning to upgrade my mixing rig (for business).

So far I mix itb, the only exception being my Lexicon PCM96 h/w reverb. As far as h/w eq’s go, sound wise I can live without for the moment.

But for compression, I feel digital processing still has a lot of ground to cover.

As for my upgrade plan: I think I may be needing about six pairs of compression channels.
Why six, why in pairs? Well, pair no1 will go to my master bus. That leaves 5 pairs for mixing duties and I can use them in two ways:

Plan A analog compression on the important tracks - kick, snare, oh or drums bus, bass, lead vocals, a couple of lead instruments and one spare pair for whatever else may need some special attention.

Plan B mixing in Michael Brauer style – four pairs of compression for busses and one spare pair for whatever else may need some special attention.

Unfortunately demoing units where I live is not that easy. And booking studio time to check some comps is not gonna work easily either, most studios here live in digital land.

So I after a lot of researching and effort to fit the budget, I have compiled my whish list so there it is:

1. FMR Audio PBC-6A x2 820 €
2. Summit Audio TLA-50 x2 1270 €
3. Grace Design m102 x2 1350 €
4. Drawmer 1968 MK II 1200 €
5. RND Portico 5043 1800 €
6. Daking Fet Compressor III 2000 €

Total: 8440 €

I tried my best to have units in the list that won’t have to discard them when I will be able to add some more hi end gear in the future.

Other candidates were (the lower cost units in case I needed more comp channels):
- Golden Age Comp 54 Matched Pair
with Carnhill Transformers 1600 €
- Elysia xpressor 1200 €
- JDK Audio R22 1150 €
- Golden Age Comp 54 Matched Pair 960 €
- ART Pro VLA II 366 €
- FMR Audio RNLA 7239 230 €
- FMR Audio RNC 1773 180 €


So, what do you think? Do you have any other alternatives to suggest?
Do you feel it’s better to have less comps but of better quality?
Or should I replace a unit in the list with two or more lees expensive units to fit more compression channels?

Note 1: Unfortunately the international used market is not a good option for me, It’s not very easy to get tax refund going that way, and in the Greek used market there are very few options in compressors if any.

Note 2: budget cannot stretch a lot, up to 9500 euro maybe. 10,000 if I absolutely must


Tnx!
Old 20th October 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Speeddemon's Avatar
I would at least get 2 Distressors, or a dual 1176-clone. Or maybe an 1178 original.
The Safe Sound Dynamic Toolbox also seems promising.
Old 20th October 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
nickelironsteel's Avatar
 

get 2x2 compressors in one, the shadow hills mastering compressor
Old 20th October 2012
  #4
Well 2 distressors:
Empirical Labs Distressor EL8-S 2795 €
Empirical Labs Distressor EL8X-S 2995 €

I suppose I could take out the RND and Summit or Grace and do with 5 pairs.

Universal Audio 1176LN x2 3900 €
(or Universal Audio 2-1176 2800 € If I'd like to "cheat" a little) to much for now, definitely one of the next steps.
Any good clones that won't break the bank?

Other stuff I have looked at but are scheduled for later if work goes well:

Vintage Design C1 mk2 x2 2800 €
CharterOak SCL-1 2300 €
API 2500 2700 €
A-Designs HM2 Nail 2750 €


I'll check Shadow Hills and Safe Sound. Thanks!
Old 20th October 2012
  #5
2 x Distressor EL8-X
Old 20th October 2012
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Hi Bro !

First I'd suggest to look into the used market. Just make sure to get a unit that has been handled with care (i.e. non smoking studio with good air conditioning, no touring etc...) IMO you'll always get more for your bucks.

Then get 2 RND 5043 - for the value it's incredible - this is 2 colours (feedback/feedforward).
then get vintage 1178 or good 1176 clone
then an Alan smart SSL style comp.
then 2 distressors for versatility (regular are fine if you don't plan to use the crush thing - I don't very much)
Phoenix for the 2 bus ?

RNC are joke IMO. Better with newest UAD.
BTW I wasn't thrilled by universal audio 1176 reissues ...
Same for new Xrack SSL stuff. Weird, but while ok, they did not really make me happy either.
for that price I'd got for the RND which I wouldn't take out of the studio !

Good luck,

Salvator
Old 20th October 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

What's going to go on what?

For example, IMO, and I don't know your mixing style or what sound you generally go for, but the tough thing to be considering for a good sleeper compressor on a specific duty, at least for me, is what will work most of the time. I true Gearslut will never tell you 'THIS compressor will always work for you on every genre, every time'. That's the biggest issue.

For me, being that I tend to do modern top 40's pop/rock to heavy rock/metal, I have a few sleepers in mind and you may want to consider this as well (just a suggestion). For example...(keep in mind my genre I tend to mostly work in), just a few...

Lead vocals - Retro 176(probably king here), 1176 Blue Stripe(still pretty hot for this), Inward Brute(becoming a favorite for many)

Guitar - 33609 or 2254 type - meaning Chandler LTD-2, the Vintech 609ca, Vintage Design CL1mk2 and even the Blacklion AGB would all work for me. La3a's are also a good choice here.

Bass - I personally like an La3a here, but for more pop stuff, a CL1b is amazing.

Notice, we're already pretty high, but to me, these are some of the most important to cover.

Kick - DBX 160 type - I personally use a 1066 here. Many think it sounds cheap, but I feel I work fine with it.

Snare - For me, Distressor is king here, but as of late, I've had some pretty stellar results with the UAD 160vu plug-in. Don't shoot me...

Oh/Room/Toms - I'd like to separate these, but between the treatment I provide itb and how they were tracked, I seem to be working fine with an RNC or ProVLA(modified by JJ Audio) here depending on the situation.

Keys/Backup Vocals/Clean guitars - Again, RNC or ProVLA work fine here...and again mostly because of the tracking stage.

So, I guess I'm saying...pick your winners. You have good compressors there, but I guess I see opportunity for a little better in some places. We also need to know where you're planning to use what you've chosen in order to help. You're going to be recommended a variety of things and of course, it would be great to have them all, but you're here asking probably because, just like most of the rest of us, we can't afford to buy everything we want...all least not right now...

Good luck!!
Old 20th October 2012
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickelironsteel View Post
get 2x2 compressors in one, the shadow hills mastering compressor
Ok, Shadow Hills: I’m in shock! $7000 ???

Let me explain, I don’t do mastering - I mix, so I need more channels. I cannot justify the cost for the Shadow Hills for my business.

I’m located in Greece and our market suck big time right now. Without getting into details, the only viable option for me is going mainly with online mixing (yes, I know!).
I must be very lucky to be able to get so much international recognition to be able to raise my rates/business to a level that can justify such units. My credit list has some of the big names in Greece but this means nothing to the rest of the world. FWIW though, I will try. Hence, the need for some quite good units.
As you may have noticed I have divided my options in two groups:

Group A: 1000 – 2000 euro / pair. Nice gear that is at least a keeper for utility stuff if/when I will upgrade again.

Group B: 2000 – 3000+ / pair. The big boys, I hope I will manage to get some of those later on!

Anything above that: The Lords of the rig! (sorry). How knows, maybe some day…
Old 20th October 2012
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by salvator View Post
Hi Bro !

First I'd suggest to look into the used market. Just make sure to get a unit that has been handled with care (i.e. non smoking studio with good air conditioning, no touring etc...) IMO you'll always get more for your bucks.

Then get 2 RND 5043 - for the value it's incredible - this is 2 colours (feedback/feedforward).
then get vintage 1178 or good 1176 clone
then an Alan smart SSL style comp.
then 2 distressors for versatility (regular are fine if you don't plan to use the crush thing - I don't very much)
Phoenix for the 2 bus ?

RNC are joke IMO. Better with newest UAD.
BTW I wasn't thrilled by universal audio 1176 reissues ...
Same for new Xrack SSL stuff. Weird, but while ok, they did not really make me happy either.
for that price I'd got for the RND which I wouldn't take out of the studio !

Good luck,

Salvator
Unforunately the Greek law is so messed and different to the rest of Europe USA, I cant easily take some tax return from purchases from the used market. If I can get a pretty good deal, then maybe...

RND, yes heard some great stuff about it. That's why its on the list. To get the disstressors, I have to take 2 units out, dont know.

1176 style, I dig it so much! Too expensive for me right now though. It will be in the next round of upgrades. For now, I hope I can escape wth the new uad version.

RNC I think for the money is ok. It fills the gap as utility comp. Still I think is better than many many plugins.

I'll check the phoenix, SSL style 2 bus - hmm, I dont know. Is it flexible enough for different uses?
Old 20th October 2012
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
What's going to go on what?

For example, IMO, and I don't know your mixing style or what sound you generally go for
The first thing I ask when I get asked to recommend gear is for what use.
And I forgot to mention that myself

Description coming shortly...
Old 20th October 2012
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Marinelis View Post
The first thing I ask when I get asked to recommend gear is for what use.
And I forgot to mention that myself

Description coming shortly...
I mix Mediterranean-Middle East world/ethnic (also did some latin stuff a few years back), Jazz, Blues, singer/songwriter, Indie-Alternative. Some ambient experimental stuff lately.

Also record and mix for two of the most respected Greek artists doing music for moving pictures. One of them won an international award for best new discovery (for OST) a couple of years ago against Nick Cave among others!

Sparingly, some Greek top 40 pop. Not my thing, don’t dig the style.

I guess I’m not the right guy for hip hop, RnB, international pop top40.

The Greek market sucks big time right now. Used to do 4-5 projects a year with the OST artists, now maybe one a year. The rest of the styles I work, are not very well “sellers” in Greece. Not enough mix projects, lots of PA work though.
Very small budgets! I guess I mix for the “non haves” (hope it’s the right expression)

The way I see it, the only financially viable option for me (as studio mix engineer, I wear other hats too foh mix, mobile recording…) is going mainly with online mixing (yes, I know!). I don’t want to be just the next itb guy.

So A: work my b#tt off to deliver the best mixes I can with whatever tools I have.
B: get some nice compressors for some more easily obtained and/or better results.

My credit list has some of the big names in Greece but this means nothing to the rest of the world
I must be very lucky to be able to get so much international recognition to be able to raise my rates/business to a level that can justify units above 3000 € each.
FWIW though, I will try. Hence, the need for some quite good units.
Old 20th October 2012
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
What's going to go on what?

For example, IMO, and I don't know your mixing style or what sound you generally go for, but the tough thing to be considering for a good sleeper compressor on a specific duty, at least for me, is what will work most of the time. I true Gearslut will never tell you 'THIS compressor will always work for you on every genre, every time'. That's the biggest issue.

For me, being that I tend to do modern top 40's pop/rock to heavy rock/metal, I have a few sleepers in mind and you may want to consider this as well (just a suggestion). For example...(keep in mind my genre I tend to mostly work in), just a few...

Lead vocals - Retro 176(probably king here), 1176 Blue Stripe(still pretty hot for this), Inward Brute(becoming a favorite for many)

Guitar - 33609 or 2254 type - meaning Chandler LTD-2, the Vintech 609ca, Vintage Design CL1mk2 and even the Blacklion AGB would all work for me. La3a's are also a good choice here.

Bass - I personally like an La3a here, but for more pop stuff, a CL1b is amazing.

Notice, we're already pretty high, but to me, these are some of the most important to cover.

Kick - DBX 160 type - I personally use a 1066 here. Many think it sounds cheap, but I feel I work fine with it.

Snare - For me, Distressor is king here, but as of late, I've had some pretty stellar results with the UAD 160vu plug-in. Don't shoot me...

Oh/Room/Toms - I'd like to separate these, but between the treatment I provide itb and how they were tracked, I seem to be working fine with an RNC or ProVLA(modified by JJ Audio) here depending on the situation.

Keys/Backup Vocals/Clean guitars - Again, RNC or ProVLA work fine here...and again mostly because of the tracking stage.

So, I guess I'm saying...pick your winners. You have good compressors there, but I guess I see opportunity for a little better in some places. We also need to know where you're planning to use what you've chosen in order to help. You're going to be recommended a variety of things and of course, it would be great to have them all, but you're here asking probably because, just like most of the rest of us, we can't afford to buy everything we want...all least not right now...

Good luck!!
This is a very nice post. Superb mindset!

I like the fact that you try to give general recommendations rather than very specific choices since these things are also a matter of personal taste!

I know I have a lot of ground to cover but can’t afford everything.

That’s why I ask advice not only on gear but also about my approach.

I’m looking for some versatility as going the online route, I may end up mixing more genres than I already do.
For now 5 or 6 good units for 8500 € 9500€ max is all I can justify as an investment.

If you’ve noticed on my lists, I try to build as flexible an arsenal as can be within my budget. Fet – opto – vca. La2a style, 1176 style, neve 33609 style. Distressors are quite unique as I understand (I mean it for good).

As I already explained I have divided my options in two groups:

Group A: 1000 – 2000 euro / pair. Nice gear that is at least a keeper for utility stuff if/when I will upgrade again. The good thing is that there are some very nice units here that are certainly up to the task of serious compression.

Group B: 2000 – 3000+ / pair. The big boys, I hope I will manage to get some of those later on!

Anything above that: How knows, maybe some day…

Funny, just finished a mix last night with the UAD 160vu plug-in in kick and snare so no shooting from me.
Old 20th October 2012
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

For a cheap way to get the 1176 vibe in there check these out:

Hairball Audio

If you don't 'do soldering iron', get a tech to put it together for you.

EDIT: This also looks/seems to sound mighty useful:

http://www.jlmaudio.com/shop/index.p...d&productId=71
Old 20th October 2012
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
For a cheap way to get the 1176 vibe in there check these out:

Hairball Audio

If you don't 'do soldering iron', get a tech to put it together for you.
Thanks for the link, never heard of those. Soldering won't be a problem I guess...

The cheap price doesn't scare me but could you describe their level of performane? Is it like a GAP73 for the neves, better or worse than that?
Old 20th October 2012
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Marinelis View Post
Thanks for the link, never heard of those. Soldering won't be a problem I guess...

The cheap price doesn't scare me but could you describe their level of performane? Is it like a GAP73 for the neves, better or worse than that?
Do a search on here and see. It seems to be the common conclusion that the Hairball kits come in somewhere between original Urei's and the new UAD reissues. Certainly no GAP stuff. Mostly to do with what transformers you put in there.

JLM gear is top notch.

Another thing to consider for reasonable money is Abe's Pye comp copy:

Pye compressor example

http://store.acsoundstudio.com/

Old 20th October 2012
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Do a search on here and see. It seems to be the common conclusion that the Hairball kits come in somewhere between original Urei's and the new UAD reissues. Certainly no GAP stuff. Mostly to do with what transformers you put in there.

JLM gear is top notch.

Another thing to consider for reasonable money is Abe's Pye comp copy:

Pye compressor example

Welcome to the AC Sound Store!

Cool info!
About the hairball kits, I've never tried a DIY kit before. It would be fun going that way. And with performance at the level you describe double the fun!
Old 20th October 2012
  #17
Gear Maniac
Charteroak SCL1
DBX 160SL can be sweet or very mean!
Old 20th October 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
cinealta's Avatar
 

Two (2) Empirical Labs EL8X Distressors with British Mode and link. Done. Start making music.
Old 20th October 2012
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Marinelis View Post
Cool info!
About the hairball kits, I've never tried a DIY kit before. It would be fun going that way. And with performance at the level you describe double the fun!
Get a hold of Subzero on here. He makes some amazing 1176 clones completely worth their salt and may be willing to sell you one....

[QUOTE=subzero;7244683]I recently finished building a few Rev A and Rev D clones. I made a video comparing the two revisions. I used audio directly recorded from the DAW instead of the camera audio. I think the difference between the two revisions is very noticeable, but they both sound sweet.

SZR76 Comparison - UREI 1176 Clones (HD) - YouTube
Old 20th October 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Marinelis View Post
This is a very nice post. Superb mindset!

I like the fact that you try to give general recommendations rather than very specific choices since these things are also a matter of personal taste!

I know I have a lot of ground to cover but can’t afford everything.

That’s why I ask advice not only on gear but also about my approach.

I’m looking for some versatility as going the online route, I may end up mixing more genres than I already do.
For now 5 or 6 good units for 8500 € 9500€ max is all I can justify as an investment.

If you’ve noticed on my lists, I try to build as flexible an arsenal as can be within my budget. Fet – opto – vca. La2a style, 1176 style, neve 33609 style. Distressors are quite unique as I understand (I mean it for good).

As I already explained I have divided my options in two groups:

Group A: 1000 – 2000 euro / pair. Nice gear that is at least a keeper for utility stuff if/when I will upgrade again. The good thing is that there are some very nice units here that are certainly up to the task of serious compression.

Group B: 2000 – 3000+ / pair. The big boys, I hope I will manage to get some of those later on!

Anything above that: How knows, maybe some day…

Funny, just finished a mix last night with the UAD 160vu plug-in in kick and snare so no shooting from me.
Just giving options here.

You may want to try modified Aphex stuff...buy used on ebay and have Jim Williams modify it...but that may end up being pricey considering where you live and Jim is in California...

For La2a type stuff, try the ADL 1000 mono and 1500 stereo units. They probably sell them over there...
Old 20th October 2012
  #21
Hi Silkjmusic, nice to drop by again. thanks for the link.

I hope I helped with post #11.

Some more detail about my style and needs: Mixing mostly acoustic stuff, I try to have my mixes as dynamic as possible even in indie/alternative.

Most of the time, I reach for compressors with a more natural response. So opto’s are going to see a lot of use. That said, there are times that I need a grabby one, or to just smash something up for creative use.

Again, going the online route, you never know what you’re gonna meet. Different genres, different songs requiring different mix decisions, even uneven or sloppy performances.

If it’s of any help, the plug-ins I use for compression:

uad la2a, 1176 get the most use.

Lately the 160vu has seen some action in snare, kick, bass.

The EMI comp gets a lot of use on bass too.

Some la3a’s here and there

Been experimenting with the waves api2500 to find its use

All of these are rarely doing more than 4db gain reduction. Maybe 6-7db occasionally in an uneven performance,

Even so, sometimes I feel the need for something without colour or more transparent compression. I usually reach for the sonnox dynamics then.

Off course indie/alternative rock get some heavier treatment.

So as I said in my first post for now my plans are

Plan A analog compression on the important tracks - kick, snare, oh or drums bus, bass, lead vocals, a couple of lead instruments and one spare pair for whatever else may need some special attention.

Plan B mixing in Michael Brauer style – four pairs of compression for busses and one spare pair for whatever else may need some special attention.
Old 20th October 2012
  #22
Distressor does it all. It's great on pretty much any material.
Old 22nd October 2012
  #23
short list refined

So, after some more research and the kind replies from all of you, I have refined my list:

“Due to popular demand” from fellow gearslutz‘s, the must have:
1176 style: 2x Hairball 1176 Rev D 1,000 €
2x Distressor 3,000 €

After that:
Neutral tone - transparent compression: 1x Grace Design m102 675 €
Some color – somewhat la2a-ish: Summit Audio TLA-50 635 €
Flexible, quality comp: RND Portico 5043 1,800 €

All this adds up to 7,110 € (budget 10,000 € -ish max)

Now I need one or two more dual mono/stereo units to complete the list.
I’d like to expand my options for the mix bus but also I’d like to be able to try the Michael Brauer technique, so I’d shoot mainly for bus duties. If they can handle individual sources as well, the better!

The main candidates are:
Drawmer 1968 mkII 1,200 €
Daking Fet Compressor III 2,000 €
Vintage Design CL1 mkII 3,000 € or 2x C1 mkII 2,800 €

Should I go for the drawmer and the daking or just for the v.d.? (If things go well in the business end I could probably add one more unit later on)

Other units that I have considered are:
A-Designs HM2 Nail 2,750 €
API 2500 2,700 €
DBX 162SL 2,200 €
Charter Oak SCL-1 2,300 €

What do you think?
Old 22nd October 2012
  #24
Gear Maniac
You're getting ready to have some serious fun!
Old 22nd October 2012
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by totalgear View Post
You're getting ready to have some serious fun!
I certainly hope so!

The few times I have used h/w compressors I found it much easier/quicker to get where I want. It has to do with the workflow also. I find it easier to use less my eyes and more my ears with h/w.

So what do you think? Should I go for the drawmer and the daking or just for the v.d.? Or something completely different?
Old 22nd October 2012
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuikqudn View Post
We walk past so many people struggling every day.
I'm sorry the image you posted is blocked from the server so I can't be shure of the tone of your comment.

I 'm not at all rich and spending that kind of money is not easy for me. The financial crisis had led me to almost distraction. I have a family to support and I'm forced to have a regular 9-5 job to do this.

I figured I'm gonna try the international market through online services. Please read my posts above for details.

The gear can't be bought all at once. A unit at a time. Till I reach the maximum of the budget I feel can be justified by the business I get.

A slow progress! And in my situation needs to be planned carefully. Don't have the $ to waste.


If I had the $, I wouldn't care to ask. I would spend and exchange gear till my satisfaction.

This is not my case!
Old 22nd October 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
lectric's Avatar
2 o 3 Aphex Expressor 651 used cost near 200 euro....and sound like 1500. Clean and clean¡¡¡
Buzz Soc 1.1. clean and swet opto.
2 Hairball 1176 rev D...for colour and size.
1 or 2....Igs Leveling amp. Tube comp for a big, bold sound.
Tk audio BC1 ...master buss.
Old 22nd October 2012
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by lectric View Post
2 o 3 Aphex Expressor 651 used cost near 200 euro....and sound like 1500. Clean and clean¡¡¡
Buzz Soc 1.1. clean and swet opto.
2 Hairball 1176 rev D...for colour and size.
1 or 2....Igs Leveling amp. Tube comp for a big, bold sound.
Tk audio BC1 ...master buss.
Hi, or should I say hola!

These are very nice recomendations!
The hairballs are allready in my plans.
The Buzz and igs, look very interesting. Specially the igs seems like a nice alternative to la2a. Am I right?
The bc1... I'm not that much into SSL type compression. Maby I'm wrong? Haven't spend so much time with it to be certain. My instinct says no though...
The aphex could be a very nice and cost effective addition later on

Thank you so much!
Old 23rd October 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
lectric's Avatar
Thanks¡¡
The Buzz Soc is a opto in the La3a way.
Old 23rd October 2012
  #30
The Buzz Soc made it through the list!
Did some search on it. Great reviews, and much love from the users!
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