16 more channels of analog compression

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3404
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

16 more channels of analog compression

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:28 pm

Hi Kind and smart folks of the TOMB,

I'm finding myself wanted at least 16 more channels of Analog compression. I probably won't buy that many, at least not at first, but I'd thought I'd ask you all what you'd be looking for.

I currently have a DBX 166 (my first compressor from the 80's) a DBX 266XL a Symetrix 525 and the Art Tube Opto thing (I always forget the name and I'm upstairs right now.)

The 266 is my most clean and versatile option. I like how the 166 sounds on a lot of things, it gets crunchy. I want to keep it on busses 1 and 2 where I send the things I want parallel compressed, but it's a little too unreliable for that, so I have the 266XL there and I have the 166 on OH's. I find the Symetrix "poofy" for lack of a better work, but I like that on bass/kick/low endy sounds. Mostly it lives on kick and snare. The Art (VLA?) is living on my daughter's vocal mic and on my bass/guitar direct channel where I'm digging it in both applications.

I'm pretty sure I've decided to try to get another one of each of those since I find them all useful and often wish I had more channels of each of them. But I'm wanting to branch out in terms of "flavor" and quality, at least for a couple channels.

Would one of those Drawmer 441 Quad Auto Comps be a different flavor and/or higher "quality" than what I have now?
How 'bout the DBX 1046?
Would the RNC be a step up from what I have now for a buss/master compressor?
Any other sleeper compressors I should keep my eye out for?
I'd like one really good stereo/dual mono comp and then more channels of workmanlike "flavor" compressors for squashing individual channels or busses all to hell.

I really thought analog compressor units would be coming down in price the way analog boards have been, but I'm not seeing it on ebay really. I figure all those analog boards had a bunch of compressors hooked to them and now that's all being replaced by digital boards with comps on each channel, so where are all the dirt cheap analog compressors?

Any thoughts would be nice,

Thanks,

ck
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

kslight
moves faders with mind
Posts: 2693
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by kslight » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:26 pm

I mean I see a lot of the cheap old rack units for sale, cheap...from churches and stuff so nothing most people probably get excited about, but the Behringers, dbx, presonus, Alesis of the world all seem cheap by me...I picked up 3 3630s for like $20 each...

Assuming relatively low budget, I’d probably grab a Klark Teknik kt76 or two. I have a KT2A and it’s pretty nice.

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
speech impediment
Posts: 4988
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Lake Arrowhead California USA
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:06 pm

There are really only a few hardware compressors worth buying:

Teletronix LA2A.

Urei 1176.

Teletronix LA3A.

Fairchild 660/670.

No, they are not cheap. But, they are the sound of modern music. Try saving up.

I have my LA2A. Will never sell it.

I did have two 1176s, and sold them. I prefer plug ins from UAD for those. Believe it or not.

The Fairchild? Well, I wish I could afford one, but have rented one a few times out of LA, to pass material through it.

The LA3A, again, I now prefer the plug in. Those were quite unpredictable as hardware units, their sound was very different from unit to unit. PITA.

So, if I were you, I'd save up for a Teletronix LA2A. You absolutely will not regret it. Sometimes they come up for sale used. The new one is EXACTLY the same as the old ones, so don't worry about buying the new version.

Cheers.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

User avatar
digitaldrummer
resurrected
Posts: 2346
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Austin, Texas
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by digitaldrummer » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:44 pm

of course that's another option. The UAD plugin. Get an Apollo interface (also not cheap) or one of the PCIe cards or the satellite... but way cheaper than 16 1176's and 16 LA-2A... and more. I love my Apollo 16, but rarely use compression going in (but I could if I wanted to)
Mike
www.studiodrumtracks.com -- Drum tracks starting at $50!
www.doubledogrecording.com

Colorblind
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:23 pm

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by Colorblind » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:57 pm

I remember Steve Albini saying the RNC is as good as other compressors several times its cost, for whatever that’s worth.

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
speech impediment
Posts: 4988
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Lake Arrowhead California USA
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:05 pm

Colorblind wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:57 pm
I remember Steve Albini saying the RNC is as good as other compressors several times its cost, for whatever that’s worth.
I had a pair. They are crazy good for the price.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

User avatar
joninc
deaf.
Posts: 1964
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 5:02 pm
Location: canada
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by joninc » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:47 pm

my 2 bits is that if it doesn't enhance tone - and just does gain reduction - you should save your money and use plug ins. They are fine for "utility" style use. RNC fell into this category for me.

If you want to add texture / tone / harmonics then there's lots of great options and alternative to the classics...

I have and love -

ADL 1000 (tube opto - cheaper than LA2A)
mohog 1176 - smoooth and grabby.
UBK fatso (super versatile and stereo - can do great squishy stuff and get tapey)
Highland Dynamics BG2 (vari mu style) UNREAL on almost anything - adds richness
distressor
the new rules : there are no rules

drumsound
zen recordist
Posts: 6875
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:30 pm
Location: Bloomington IL
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by drumsound » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:43 pm

Colorblind wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:57 pm
I remember Steve Albini saying the RNC is as good as other compressors several times its cost, for whatever that’s worth.
I believe that's true. I used to have 3, and still have 2. I did drum parallel with one for YEARS and should go back to it. I didn't/don't use really nice mode nearly as much as 'regular super fast and sometimes crunchy' mode.

User avatar
losthighway
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2006
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:02 pm
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by losthighway » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:38 am

I use compressors a lot, I have some affordable work horse units (a couple DBX 160x, Symetrix 501) and some fancier options (Retro Sta Level, Chandler LTDII). They all have different characters and I select them for different purposes.

In my tracking and mixing process I've never dreamed I would/could use 16 channels of compression simultaneously. I suppose if you're mixing down in analog, and you hadn't compressed anything on the way in you could use 4-8 channels on drums, 2-6 channels on vocals/backing vocals, maybe 2 channels of bass, if there were horns.... okay I can imagine how you get there. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the fancier mix rooms we've seen around the Tomb (Studio G, The Bunker etc) have that many units going on some mixes.

But I don't know if in most people's work flows that volume of units is necessary. In my opinion having a few solid budget choices is good for utility work, helping your rhythm section stay in place, taming some dynamic range while tracking... and saving for a single classy unit to impart a richer tone on vocals, acoustic guitar etc would yield a better mix than stocking your rack with redundant channels of something not altogether special.

When I got my STA level it changed the way vocals sit in my mix. When I got my pair of Chandlers it changed how my drums come across. I could have compressed those things with my DBX, or Symetrix and gotten it to work, but I'd be losing something a little magical in the sound.

User avatar
trodden
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5276
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 8:21 am
Location: C-attle
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by trodden » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:56 am

Nothing fancy here.
a pair of DBX 160 XT's
Symmetrix 501
Ashly CL-52
ART VLA (first version with tube upgrade)
WARM WA-76
Overstayer Stereo FET compressor (original model)

I use them all when tracking a full band. the ART whenever i'm doing stereo keys/synths. the DBX and Warm for just about anything else. The overstayer has been parked on the drum buss for the last 9 years. The WARM WA-76 was quite a bit of an upgrade for me. I love it and it's the only "1176" i'll be affording.

I"m working in protools 9. Using whatever waves versions of 1176's, API 2500 along with the Massey MT4 for compression needs. Seems that the UA system is the way to go and I'll probably get around to that at some point.

The TK Audio BC 501 and the FATSO has been on my list for years as well.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9014
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by vvv » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:43 pm

FWIW, my workflow is such that I record drums or whatever on a remote 8 track recorder, flat, and do all processing ITB.

Overdubs, well, that's different: I typically use a dbX160XT and a Meek VC3Q on bass (or a 163x), an 1176 clone and/or RNC, RNLA, the 160 XT, a VLA, a Symetrix 522, often combined with the channel strip compressors on the Eureka and Meek VC1Q on vocals. (I like to chain 'em.)

I like the DOD 866, dbx 266 and VLA or sometimes a Meek C2 or MC2 on stereo sources (keyboards, acoustic guitars) but almost never use any compression on electric guitar.

Percussion overdubs (tambo, etc.) typically get done with whatever vocal chain is up at the moment.

Finally, I often use a software compressor (CEP native) to smoove everything a bit as I mix-down into it.

Hmmm, that's 21 channels of analog - I never counted before! :twisted:
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
digitaldrummer
resurrected
Posts: 2346
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Austin, Texas
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by digitaldrummer » Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:39 am

I should also add that I currently have a DBX 160X and a LA-610. The DBX is for just in case, the LA-610 is more about the preamp although I do use the comp too when tracking vocals. Rarely I will use it alone.

In the past I've built a Hairball 1176 (great unit btw) and owned a Fostex 3070 (fun unit), KT-2A, DBX 117, DBX 118, DBX 128, Radial Komit, DBX 160XT, Warm WA-2A, and maybe some others that I'm forgetting. Every time I put them up against the UAD plugins, I ended up liking the UAD just as much if not better. Plus the convenience to use multiple at the same time, not to mention its so much easier to insert a plugin vs. patching in the hardware and calculating any latency/delay due to that. yes, I'm lazy. Or maybe I just like to move quickly. either way for my work flow, I prefer the plugin route (and as I mentioned earlier I can compress on the way in to with the UAD plugins but I mostly never do- I just set the levels conservatively). I know that is not everyone's preferred workflow, but it works for me.

Mike
Last edited by digitaldrummer on Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mike
www.studiodrumtracks.com -- Drum tracks starting at $50!
www.doubledogrecording.com

User avatar
alexdingley
buyin' gear
Posts: 586
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:00 am
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by alexdingley » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:18 am

So much of what’s said above is true... but if you ally truly wanted 16 ch. of usable compression, and you don’t want to break the bank... I think you might be very happy with 4 dbx 1046’s. I have one, and I’ve used it a number of sources. It doesn’t rock my world, but it keeps things in check and doesn’t turn every signal into dogshit.

It’s not gonna do what fancier units do for your tone, but it’s a fairly practical unit, especially at the $100-$200 price point that One can commonly find them now. I’d say that you can probably do okay with the original Presonus ACP-88 as well... I feel like the later ones didn’t quite have the same vibe But the older ones are harder to find used... so yeah. My vote (if you’re on a tight budget) would be the dbx 1046’s.

That said, for my drum tracking... I’ve been planning on building two Hairball 1176 rev.A’s. Then I’ll strap them across a bus on the Toft ATB-16. And at some point, I’d love to have an LA-2A... but the UA plug-in does well for me now.

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3404
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:27 pm

Thanks for the thoughts so far. It's helping me.

Just thought I'd chime back in on a couple things.

Plugins aren't an option. I record to an Alesis HD24XR through an Allen & Heath GL2400-24.

I guess having 24 channels (what I got, plus 16) would be kinda ridiculous. I'm recording in 12 channel mode, so maybe 16 channels overall is more reasonable. I am a total slut for compression though. I like to have it on most inserts (hitting very lightly) AND parallel squash. I track with compression and then mix with more compression on individual tracks and busses. Plus, I love mixing into a "master" compressor. I guess I'm also pretty happy with the sound of shitty compression (I'm realizing), although I have no idea what I'm missing, since the 266XL is the "best" compressor I've ever owned.

Mostly, I think I was looking for opinions on the Drawmer and the 1046 AND wondering if there were any sleeper hardware units out there that I should be looking for. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to justify an La2a or something. I think I'm a strictly less than $100/channel man, at this point.

Thanks again,

ck
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
alexdingley
buyin' gear
Posts: 586
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:00 am
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
Contact:

Re: 16 more channels of analog compression

Post by alexdingley » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:44 am

Oh man!
Snarl 12/8 wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:27 pm
I have no idea what I'm missing, since the 266XL is the "best" compressor I've ever owned.

Mostly, I think I was looking for opinions on the Drawmer and the 1046 AND wondering if there were any sleeper hardware units out there that I should be looking for
That’s all the more reason to go with some 1046’s. The sound will be somewhat familiar, but arguably better.

I haven’t been listing stuff, because we just got settled in a new house... but I was gonna list my 1046, my 1066, and my two 160X’s this year. I’ve been tracking less with compression, and I use UAD plug-ins in my mixes. PM me if you are interested. No rush, as I haven’t got any appropriate shipping boxes lying around.. would probably have to order some.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 47 guests