cheap outboard compressors

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jkretz
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cheap outboard compressors

Post by jkretz » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:25 am

i recently started working with a tape machine and console, after years of only fiddling with DAWs. i recently tracked some drums and bass for a friends band and am getting ready to import them into the computer, so they can do overdubs on their own. they want to get the drums / bass "as close to how they should sound" as possible, so i'm needing to put some compression on the tracks. i'd like to avoid software compressors, simply because i really want to get away from using the computer as much as possible.

that said.

what are some entry level compressors that are actually useful and sound decent on a variety of sources? i don't need one trick pony's, i just need a few channels of versatile, non crappy sounding compression.

all i have right now is an alesis 3060. help?

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dubold
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Post by dubold » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:37 am

use the search engine, as this has come up before at least once.

I would do some research on the following compressors

FMR RNC (Really Nice Compressor)
ART PRO VLA (there's now a PRO VLA II with some upgraded features, which has reduced the price of the PRO VLA quite a bit.
Pretty much anything Symetrix with a grey faceplate
Alesis Microlimiter


You can find any of those for under $200. As a long-term strategy, you may be better off buying one $1000 compressor than five $200 dollar ones, at least in terms of resale value.

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Post by sir hills » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:48 am

There's actually quite a few posts here about budget compressors & such...you just have to search & filter through.

RNC from FMR Audio is a solid compressor, very affordable & would be a step up from your Alesis. I haven't used one but they also make the PCB-6A which is apparently more "colored" sounding...a little higher in price & only one channel. Again, I haven't used one but some folks here like the ART PRO VLA. Old Ashley & Symetrix comps can be had on the cheap & do cool things...these may be considered more "one trick ponies" though. I had a Symetrix 501 that was killer for crushing room mics & parallel stuff. You're 3060 is probably decent on some things as well...& there are simple mods you can do to that piece to get it sounding better...again, try a search.

jkretz
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Post by jkretz » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:51 am

thanks for the replies, i'll try the search i just now realized that i can set it to search ONLY the gear forum.

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Dakota
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Re: cheap outboard compressors

Post by Dakota » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:55 am

jkretz wrote:actually useful and sound decent on a variety of sources? i don't need one trick pony's
Some have more versatility than others, but people still find that each given (cool) compressor has strong personality tendencies, awesome on a few kinds of things, not a great fit on others. On the cheap, I'd suggest you get a few different (cheap) personalities to cover various bases. Maybe one clean/fast/accurate, one smooshy/colored/vintage or sorta-vintage, and some third thing with a different sound - opto or just a different timbre.

Add to the above list of cool for cheap:
dbx 166, dbx 163x/163a/163
yamaha GC2020B (but only if under $50)
and the aphex punch factory which is great opto on the cheap and can be used on line level sources (as well as instruments) if you are careful with gain staging.

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Post by GetHimEatHim » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:01 am

I really like the RNC, and find that it can impart more "character" than it is often given credit for. Definitely a versatile box. AND, incredibly instructive for figuring out how to apply compression in general -- you can hear it doing exactly-what-a-compressor-does as you turn the knobs! (Which is, y'know, what makes it a "compressor," but there is something about the transparency and responsiveness of the RNC that makes it seem really.... educational.)

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antilog
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Post by antilog » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:35 am

I am currently using

fmr rnc - stereo
(2) symetrix cl-100 - mono
dbx 166 - dual-mono/stereo linkable
art levelar - mono
and the compressors on my joemeek strips

the fmr rnc is very utilitarian and affordable, and there are plenty on the used market.
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Dakota
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Post by Dakota » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:32 pm

Oh, and 2nd pretty much anything ashly. The very oldest models have a balance of some nice character but reasonably clean, and models after that lean toward cleaner but still very all-around useful.

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Post by AstroDan » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:57 pm

GetHimEatHim wrote:I really like the RNC, and find that it can impart more "character" than it is often given credit for. Definitely a versatile box. AND, incredibly instructive for figuring out how to apply compression in general -- you can hear it doing exactly-what-a-compressor-does as you turn the knobs! (Which is, y'know, what makes it a "compressor," but there is something about the transparency and responsiveness of the RNC that makes it seem really.... educational.)
Agree 100%.
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calaverasgrandes
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Post by calaverasgrandes » Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:21 pm

I would also add that you can often find a 160 or 166 used section of a music store for a lot less than retail. I have seen 160's go for $175, 166s for $150.
I like the Presonus blue max on some things. It's got these neat presets for those of us that arent too good with comps, but its also got a manual mode. It's not great but its good and doenst have that glommy crapness of the 3630.
The microlimiters are neat, but far from hifi! The Ashly stuff is great.
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