Let's Talk About Buss Compressors

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Matt C.
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Let's Talk About Buss Compressors

Post by Matt C. » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:21 am

I'm looking for ideas and recommendations for hardware stereo compressors that will likely get used mostly as buss compressors (drum buss, vocal groups, etc, not so much on the 2-buss). I don't mean to make this into too much of a GS thing, but I'm just sort of unaware of what's out there and what's worth looking at.

I'm looking to eventually get maybe two or three different units. I'm not made of money but these don't have to be bargain basement suggestions. I would also be happy to build my own, from schematics or kits or whatever. I record mostly loud/fast punk music and I want some compressors that can add some grit and distortion without totally mangling the signal. compressors that are linkable dual mono instead of straight stereo is a plus but not necessary.

right now my only stereo compressors are an ART Pro VLA, an Alesis Microlimiter, and a FMR RNC. all pretty usable and pretty boring.

I'm considering building a GSSL, seems like a good reasonably priced option. I have a mono 1176 clone that I like a lot and I could build a linkable/stereo unit, but I'm not sure how the 1176 would perform on a stereo buss instead of a single source. I'm also pretty interested in the LA2A after using the waves plugin for a while, but I'm not sure if it's possible/practical to build a stereo unit (same goes for the Federal AM-864 which I'm highly interested in).

let me know if you have any ideas. thanks!

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Jeff White
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Post by Jeff White » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:51 am

This thing has definitely interested me for a while:

http://www.blacklionaudio.com/content.php?p=40

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Marc Alan Goodman
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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:43 pm

What Rev is your 1176 clone? :) I've used a pair of D's unlinked on the mix bus before happily. The GSSL is a great comp, but only if you're going to build it yourself, you're just asking for trouble buying someone else's DIY especially with a ubiquitous project like that one. We had the Black Lion AGB on demo for a while. They claim it's like a 33609, and I'm not sure I buy that, but it is a pretty cool compressor for its price range.

Personally I find the whole idea that a bus compressor is different in any way from just a normal compressor kind of hilarious. Just get something you like on individual sources and use it in stereo. I usually don't even link stereo comps on the bus anyway. The Fairchild 670 is widely considered one of the greatest mastering limiters ever, and it doesn't even have an option to link the detector circuits. If you already have a 1176 and like it I think building a second one would make a lot of sense, but I don't think you'd be unhappy with any of those other options either.

Matt C.
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Post by Matt C. » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:20 pm

I built the 1176 Rev D from a Hairball/mnats kit. it's pretty great!

I know "buss compressors" aren't really a whole separate thing, I was just thinking of them as a vague category defined by what people commonly use and like, not by any technical specifications. It's good to know that it's not absolutely necessary to worry about tightly matched stereo pairs or "properly" designed sidechain circuits. thanks!

for me the biggest issue is being able to get some distortion from the compressor, especially if I don't have to totally crush things into -20dB of gain reduction to get it. that microlimiter can be cool for that, but I need something more flexible.
Last edited by Matt C. on Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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agershon
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Post by agershon » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:22 pm

I'm in the market, too. Been using a Pro VLA II on stereo bus and it's got a smooth sound but I'm finding bass and kick makes it pump too much for 2bus use.

That's why I'm looking hard at the Chameleon Labs 7702. Clean VCA stereo comp in 1ru with sidechain and HPF built-in.

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Marc Alan Goodman
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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:48 pm

Matt C. wrote: I know "buss compressors" aren't really a whole separate thing, I was just thinking of them as a vague category defined by what people commonly use and like, not by any technical specifications. It's good to know that it's not absolutely necessary to worry about tightly matched stereo pairs or "properly" designed sidechain circuits.
I wasn't really ragging on your question, just the general mentality of discussion on the subject, mostly based off of another unnamed message board. It seems like you've got all your ducks in a row. Good luck with the hunt!

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Post by daveg62 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:08 pm

Maybe give the overstayer a look. Love mine, especially on a drum buss.

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Post by kingtoad » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:09 pm

The Foote Control Systems P3S (I have the ME version) is glorious. There was a review in Tape Op a couple of years ago, I think.
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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:43 pm

I use the Tonelux TX5c 500 series compressors linked sometimes,
as the mix buss compressors.

They are amazingly transparent.

http://tonelux.com/tx5c.html
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Post by jhharvest » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:22 am

A stereo compressor is nothing but two mono compressors with their sidechains fed from an aux output.

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Sean Sullivan
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Post by Sean Sullivan » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:08 am

Tonelux is going to release the DYNALUX, which is 2 channel 1RU TX5. Hopefully it will come it at $1500.

I don't usually use mix buss compression, but I've been messing around with the API 2500 Waves plug-in for in the box mixes and it sound surprisingly good. I like the "link" feature (also found in the Tonelux) I think having it around 70% sounds great. But, the hardware boxes is uncomfortably expensive for me (I know, I'm a cheap bastard)
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ott0bot
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Post by ott0bot » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:53 am

I usually mix in the box, but print tracks with verb, compression, delay, etc. I have a pair of Summit Audio tla-50's that sound great on drum and guitar busses. you can link them and the unit with the higher settings acts as the master. they aren't budget comps, but you may be able to track down a used pair for around $1000. they are source dependent and are really versatile. Changing the speed control can make it sound like a whole new comp. super fast to slow and droopy.

I also like the FMR RNLA for various things. I have the RNC too, but I only like it for certain guitars and vox.

another favorite of mine is the old school Dbx 162 (or a pair of 160's). the studio I interned in had one and it sounds extremely good on all sorts of sources. it is a bit noisy. you could try a set of 160a's, they also sound great and are super versatile. They just sound like the 70's in my brain.

Another I have yet to try is the Drawmer 1968me, but it has a lot of fans around here.

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Post by cale w » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:48 pm

I have the Chameleon Labs 7702 and I like it a lot. The HPF function is really handy.

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agershon
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Post by agershon » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:49 pm

cale w wrote:I have the Chameleon Labs 7702 and I like it a lot. The HPF function is really handy.
Glad to hear that. I just ordered it 5 minutes ago!

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Marc Alan Goodman
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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:53 pm

kingtoad wrote:The Foote Control Systems P3S (I have the ME version) is glorious. There was a review in Tape Op a couple of years ago, I think.
The Foote Pico is absolutely amazing, though a little out of the op's price range. However I picked a used prototype up for a song, so they're out there if you keep your eyes open.

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