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Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

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Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby AndyJackson » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:01 pm

Hi!

So for my final year research project I am investigating the differences between different compressors, their uses and ultimately, their sound.

If you've had some experience with different analogue compressors, then you can help me by answering the questions below. Just fill in as many as you can, and that will be of a great help to me and my primary research. Thank you for your time.

Andy (3rd Year Sound Technology @ LIPA)


1 a) If you were only allowed to chose 3 compressors to work with in a studio (for tracking or mixing), which 3 compressors would you chose and why?




1 b) For what reason/purpose would you chose these compressors? (e.g. Does it add a certain character to the sound? Is it because it is transparent? Is it for a certain type of “effect”? Is it because it is versatile?)




2 a) Do you track with compression for certain instruments? If so, please give an example.




2 b) When tracking with compression, in instances such as the one you gave above, are you looking to commit to adding the characteristics of that compressor, or are you simply looking to alter the dynamic range? (Or both?)




3. Do you find that your approach to compression at the mix stage changes from at the tracking stage?




4 a) Do you have any special “creative” uses for certain compressors? E.g. Do you use a certain compressor for pumping room mics? Do you use any for parallel compression on certain instruments?




4 b) What kind of sonic effect does this have on the sound?




5 a) Do you have a favourite Optical Compressor? Please state




5 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




6 a) Do you have a favourite Vari-Mu compressor?




6 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




7 a) Do you have a favourite VCA compressor?



7 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




8 a) What kind of applications have you used an 1176 limiter/compressor for?




8 b) Optional Question:

If you have used several different models of the 1176, how would you describe the difference in sound between them?




9) Can you give your thoughts on two different types of mix bus compressors you have used and the difference in sound/performance?




10. How do you think the use of compressor/limiters in studio recordings has changed from the early days to current day use?




11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any EQ when recording/mixing or not being able to use compression, most engineers would rather have compressors? (and why?)
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Ted Kendall » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:06 pm

Lord Rutherford used to say that all science was either physics or stamp collecting...
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby tomafd » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:18 pm

Ted Kendall wrote:Lord Rutherford used to say that all science was either physics or stamp collecting...

Hmmm. Since we're apparently pulling our collective goatees with quotations that have only limited, or no, application to the task in hand, I'll add

"When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun"

(A quote often associated with Hermann Göring, (Jan 12, 1893-Oct. 15, 1946) a member of the Nazi party who was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials.

The original quote was not actually from Göring, but from Act 1, Scene 1 of Hanns Johst's play Schlageter, which was performed in 1933 for Adolf Hitler's birthday. The original line was: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" which means "When I hear "culture" I release the safety catch on my Browning!"

The phrase Göring is said to have been fond of is the slightly modified "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun." Or sometimes "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my Browning." Perhaps he modified the quote for his own usage, or over the years, translation has become garbled.

The quote has been modified to suit various purposes in recent times. See: "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my checkbook" and "When I hear of Schrödinger's Cat I reach for my gun.")


Welcome to the forum, dear poster, but you may find that some of us prefer to have fun, than answer a lot of questions !


I'll get my coat.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby johnny h » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:07 pm

AndyJackson wrote:Hi!
Hi!!

So for my final year research project I am investigating the differences between different compressors, their uses and ultimately, their sound.

If you've had some experience with different analogue compressors, then you can help me by answering the questions below. Just fill in as many as you can, and that will be of a great help to me and my primary research. Thank you for your time.

Andy (3rd Year Sound Technology @ LIPA)


1 a) If you were only allowed to chose 3 compressors to work with in a studio (for tracking or mixing), which 3 compressors would you chose and why?
I would choose 3 Alesis 3630s for their pumping sounds


1 b) For what reason/purpose would you chose these compressors? (e.g. Does it add a certain character to the sound? Is it because it is transparent? Is it for a certain type of “effect”? Is it because it is versatile?)
Yes

2 a) Do you track with compression for certain instruments? If so, please give an example.
Yes, for example, I would use a compressor on a trumpet.

2 b) When tracking with compression, in instances such as the one you gave above, are you looking to commit to adding the characteristics of that compressor, or are you simply looking to alter the dynamic range? (Or both?)
Both of course!

3. Do you find that your approach to compression at the mix stage changes from at the tracking stage?
Yes I do

4 a) Do you have any special “creative” uses for certain compressors? E.g. Do you use a certain compressor for pumping room mics? Do you use any for parallel compression on certain instruments?
Yes

4 b) What kind of sonic effect does this have on the sound?
Changes the dynamics, mostly

5 a) Do you have a favourite Optical Compressor? Please state
Not really, I love them all

5 b) How would you describe its characteristics?
An optical compressor allows you to "see" into more of the sound

6 a) Do you have a favourite Vari-Mu compressor?
Yes

6 b) How would you describe its characteristics?
Variable

7 a) Do you have a favourite VCA compressor?
Yes

7 b) How would you describe its characteristics?
Pumpy

8 a) What kind of applications have you used an 1176 limiter/compressor for?
Changing the dynamic range of recorded audio

8 b) Optional Question:

If you have used several different models of the 1176, how would you describe the difference in sound between them?
The older ones are certainly "warmer" and "more analogue"

9) Can you give your thoughts on two different types of mix bus compressors you have used and the difference in sound/performance?
The older the better, really, and the more "warm" and "analogue"

10. How do you think the use of compressor/limiters in studio recordings has changed from the early days to current day use?
There are definitely more of them

11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any EQ when recording/mixing or not being able to use compression, most engineers would rather have compressors? (and why?)
Oh yes, I would agree unequivocally!

Thank you for your wonderful questions, you have been a delight.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby MadManDan » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:22 pm

Reading your OP, it sounds like you already have all the answers. I will contribute that I LOVE this compressor
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby MarkOne » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:57 pm

Welcome to the forum Andy

It has to be said that 1st time posters asking for help with their coursework often get a rough ride here... Sorry.

I would make a couple of observations about your post.

You state that you are investigating the differences between compressors their use and their sound, but you have constructed a questionnaire that won't further that investigation. If anyone does answer it, it will have given you an insight into people's preferences when using different compressors, not an insight into the actual devices themselves. Surely that can only be done with some first hand experimentation. (and I assume you might have some compressors to hand to tinker with)

The other thing is that while you might get a number of people to be verbose on the subject of compression, with the right kind of targeted questions, your questionnaire is a quite large and really a big ask for most people on a forum. I.e it looks like hard work and most people are here to chill and chew the fat on sound tech related subjects.

And finally, probably a lot of people here are like me - enthusiastic amateurs. I only have direct experience of a couple of crappy low end Alesis and Aphex compressors,and everything else I've ever used has been a plug-in, so really, even if I wanted to respond, my answers at least would be useless.

Cheers - and good luck!
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Ted Kendall » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:28 pm

Fair point, but what is this country doing handing out useless bits of paper to young and enthusiastic people which will be damn all use in getting a job in the industry, even assuming there were enough to go round? I could weep with frustration sometimes...
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby GaryM » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:18 pm

tomafd wrote:
Ted Kendall wrote:Lord Rutherford used to say that all science was either physics or stamp collecting...

...quotations that have only limited, or no, application to the task in hand...

I think what Ted is saying is that if you want to investigate "the differences between different compressors, their uses and ultimately, their sound", then a questionnaire is a rather indirect way to go about it. You would be better off whipping out your meters and studying the devices themselves, studying studios to see how they use compressors, and experimenting on people to see which kinds of compression they like. Or something like that.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby turtles » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:44 pm

I like compressors.

I like ice-cream, too, but in an entirely non-musical way.

Does that help at all?
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby ResonantFilter » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:15 pm

I'll bite. While I'll be the first to admit that it's really simple (and more appropriate) to do something like this with Google docs (they have excellent survey tools, and free!), I think it's all too easy to be cynical when someone asks for help. I can only offer advice within my experience, but I hope the OP (and others) find some benefit from my answers. After all, this is a community isn't it?


1 a) If you were only allowed to chose 3 compressors to work with in a studio (for tracking or mixing), which 3 compressors would you chose and why?

SSL K-Series compressor. Open, fast, and doesn't colour the sound. Simply serves up what you put in, but compressed.

Empirical Labs Distressor. When I want some drive, there's little as good. Bitey, aggressive, and the righttype of colour. Wouldn't use it on everything, but a gem at what it does.

SSL Bus Compressor. Mix into it. Glue. 'Nuff said.


1 b) For what reason/purpose would you chose these compressors? (e.g. Does it add a certain character to the sound? Is it because it is transparent? Is it for a certain type of “effect”? Is it because it is versatile?)

See above.


2 a) Do you track with compression for certain instruments? If so, please give an example.

I'll usually use compression when tracking on everything, with the exception of accoustic instruments (where I tend to use limiters instead just to catch peaks). Generally on low ratios to leave me some "space" when mixing. Just a little squeeze, to my ears adds a coherence to the recorded signal.


2 b) When tracking with compression, in instances such as the one you gave above, are you looking to commit to adding the characteristics of that compressor, or are you simply looking to alter the dynamic range? (Or both?)

Usually just dynamic range. I look to add "colour/tone" at the mix stage rather than the tracking one.




3. Do you find that your approach to compression at the mix stage changes from at the tracking stage?

Yes. When tracking I'm looking to make as much as the incoming signal as I can. When mixing, I'm looking for shape, grab, and colour in the context of the mix.


4 a) Do you have any special “creative” uses for certain compressors? E.g. Do you use a certain compressor for pumping room mics? Do you use any for parallel compression on certain instruments?

SSL Listen Mic Compressor. Nothing like it for parallel compression on drums.
Distressor. An "effect" compressor if there was one. Aggressive, driven when pushed.


4 b) What kind of sonic effect does this have on the sound?

This question is far too wide-ranging. After all, the biggest difference will be from the source, not the processing.


5 a) Do you have a favourite Optical Compressor? Please state

Not really, although I do have a soft spot for the Joe Meek SC2 on electric guitars.


5 b) How would you describe its characteristics?

transient-light, rounded, nicely fuzzy.


6 a) Do you have a favourite Vari-Mu compressor?

There really are not that many of them out there, and generally they're all pretty pricey. I wouldn't imagine that too many people actually have experience with them. I for one haven't clocked up very much mix time with them.


6 b) How would you describe its characteristics?

See above.


7 a) Do you have a favourite VCA compressor?

SSL Bus Compressor.

7 b) How would you describe its characteristics?

Great with transients at slower attack times, pumping like a king on shorter ones. Grabby, in-your-face, and "glue".


8 a) What kind of applications have you used an 1176 limiter/compressor for?

Lots of bass. Bass, and more bass. Very good when you have a "spitty" singer with fast transients.


8 b) Optional Question:

If you have used several different models of the 1176, how would you describe the difference in sound between them?

This is a pointless question. 2 of the same version sound different depending on maintainence, temperature, tube condition, etc etc. Anyone anal enough to have factory-calibrated units of all of the different versions might be able to answer this for you, but I'm not sure what you'd learn from it.


9) Can you give your thoughts on two different types of mix bus compressors you have used and the difference in sound/performance?

I've used a number of them. SSL, API, Neve, Focusrite, Manley.... I'm in the fortunate position where I get to play with lots of toys. If you're looking for more info on this I'd suggest a search through the reviews of a great magazine like SOS. Either that, or give FX Rentals a call and ask to go down and try some as part of your degree. You'll probably get lots of good answers from people who regularly use one bus compressor, but demo'ed many before their purchase decision. Generally people will have a single "weapon of choice".


10. How do you think the use of compressor/limiters in studio recordings has changed from the early days to current day use?

Massively - simply because technology is so much more affordable so people have more compressors.
What did people do before this? They rode the fader.
In earlier recordings limiters were more readily available and were used to protect from "overs" before hitting tape. SSL were the first people to have dynamics on every channel of the desk as factory standard, and this in itself in a small way changed how poeple approached compression in a mix. Desks pretty much always had EQ on, but compression is a later addition as a standard feature.


11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any EQ when recording/mixing or not being able to use compression, most engineers would rather have compressors? (and why?)

I would disagree completely. You can always use a fader to control dynamic range, and some producers still choose to do this rather than compress a signal. However, being unable to change the tone of a sound at the mix stage is a much larger issue in typical situations.


Good luck with your dissertation. Feel free to PM me if you'd like further info.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Guy Johnson » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:48 pm

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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby dmills » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:34 pm

The best sort of compression is of course adiabatic, it really helps to warm the sound up, although Lord Kelvin was known to use isothermal in some of his best selling work.

Methinks you wanted to reference Boyle not Rutherford for the seminal work on compressors.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby SevenIndustries » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:54 pm

Ted Kendall wrote:Fair point, but what is this country doing handing out useless bits of paper to young and enthusiastic people which will be damn all use in getting a job in the industry, even assuming there were enough to go round? I could weep with frustration sometimes...


Your attitude, and those who share it, actually make me think that sometimes our industry deserves to die on its knees.

Onto the topic;

Wouldn't this questionaire be better served via a goggle document ? or survey monkey ?
Just a suggestion. May make more people do it, as it'd be easier.


1 a) If you were only allowed to chose 3 compressors to work with in a studio (for tracking or mixing), which 3 compressors would you chose and why?
Distressor / LA2A / RNC
Different tastes, and abilities.

1 b) For what reason/purpose would you chose these compressors? (e.g. Does it add a certain character to the sound? Is it because it is transparent? Is it for a certain type of “effect”? Is it because it is versatile?)
Adds character, and all of them are versatile in their own ways.

2 a) Do you track with compression for certain instruments? If so, please give an example.
Vocals. Rarely do "instruments", unless I have to.

2 b) When tracking with compression, in instances such as the one you gave above, are you looking to commit to adding the characteristics of that compressor, or are you simply looking to alter the dynamic range? (Or both?)
Alter dynamic range.

3. Do you find that your approach to compression at the mix stage changes from at the tracking stage?
Yeah, I generally try to add character as well as reducing dynamic range - as opposed to reducing the range in the tracking stage. Allows for easier mixing session.

4 a) Do you have any special “creative” uses for certain compressors? E.g. Do you use a certain compressor for pumping room mics? Do you use any for parallel compression on certain instruments?
Depends on the mix, but pumping the mix I rarely do. Perhaps NY compression on guitars and drums.

4 b) What kind of sonic effect does this have on the sound?
A good one? (why else would I do it?!)

5 a) Do you have a favourite Optical Compressor? Please state
Nope.

5 b) How would you describe its characteristics?

6 a) Do you have a favourite Vari-Mu compressor?
Nope.

6 b) How would you describe its characteristics?

7 a) Do you have a favourite VCA compressor?
Logic's own!

7 b) How would you describe its characteristics?


8 a) What kind of applications have you used an 1176 limiter/compressor for?
I haven't used one.

8 b) Optional Question:

If you have used several different models of the 1176, how would you describe the difference in sound between them?


9) Can you give your thoughts on two different types of mix bus compressors you have used and the difference in sound/performance?
I switch (and play) around with the RNC and the Logic one from time to time. Clean compression to more saturated, but I generally leave the mix bus alone.

10. How do you think the use of compressor/limiters in studio recordings has changed from the early days to current day use?
Over use in the reduction department, due to more headroom in modern equipment and therefore not the "requirement" to do so.

11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any EQ when recording/mixing or not being able to use compression, most engineers would rather have compressors? (and why?)
People are used to hearing compression, and engineers have become accustomed to that. Personally, I wouldn't mind - as long as I had an EQ, I could make a mix easily.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby chris... » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:01 am

Guy,

ROTFLMAO.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Chucho » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:49 am

Hi!

So I'm a troll.

If you've had some experience with different food processors, then you can help me by answering the questions below. Just fill in as many as you can, and that will be of a great help to me and my primary research. Thank you for your time.



1 a) If you were only allowed to chose 3 cakes to work with in a studio (for baking or mixing), which 3 cakes would you chose and why?




1 b) For what reason/purpose would you chose these cakes? (e.g. Does it add a certain sweetness to the taste? Is it because it is vanilla? Is it for a certain type of “effect”? Is it because it is cocoa?)




2 a) Do you mix with gloves for certain cakes? If so, please give an example.




2 b) When baking with chocolate, in instances such as the one you gave above, are you looking to commit to adding the characteristics of that chocolate, or are you simply looking to alter the yuminess? (Or both?)




3. Do you find that your approach to stirring at the mix stage changes from at the baking stage?




4 a) Do you have any special “creative” uses for certain icing? E.g. Do you use a certain icing for pumping cake? Do you use any for parallel icing on certain cakes?




4 b) What kind of effect does this have on the cake?




5 a) Do you have a favourite Optical Cake? Please state




5 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




6 a) Do you have a favourite Vari-Mu cake?




6 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




7 a) Do you have a favourite VCA cake?



7 b) How would you describe its characteristics?




8 a) What kind of applications have you used an 1176 mixing bowl for?




8 b) Optional Question:

If you have used several different models of the cakemix, how would you describe the difference in taste between them?




9) Can you give your thoughts on two different types of cake mix buses you have used and the difference in taste/performance?




10. How do you think the use of cake in studio recordings has changed from the early days to current day use?




11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any cake or not being able to use biscuits, most engineers would rather have cake? (and why?)
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby cfb4 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:53 am

As my grandfather used say:

"If you've got nothing to put in the bag, don't tear the ass out of it!"
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Dynamic Mike » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:15 am

Chucho wrote:11. Would you agree with the statement that, if faced with the decision between not being able to use any cake or not being able to use biscuits, most engineers would rather have cake? (and why?)

Had you even bothered to read White, Robjohns et al's seminal work on the Psychoacoustic Effects of Chocolate HobNobs you wouldn't be posting such an obvious question as this.

Andy, good luck with your degree, but I suspect the results you get here are likely to be somewhat skewed. Some people will post serious replies out of sympathy, some will post to be funny, some will post to show off their knowledge, others will pretend they've got access to equipment they've only ever seen in magazines. Unfortunately the people whose opinions you really need are too busy working to even consider replying.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Ted Kendall » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:05 am

Your attitude, and those who share it, actually make me think that sometimes our industry deserves to die on its knees.

Some people will post serious replies out of sympathy, some will post to be funny, some will post to show off their knowledge, others will pretend they've got access to equipment they've only ever seen in magazines. Unfortunately the people whose opinions you really need are too busy working to even consider replying.


I've been in this business nigh on thirty years, and started with a degree in electronic engineering. Moving from amateur to professional operations, I found out jolly fast that an ounce of experience is worth a ton of paper, just as with design a day's thought is worth a decade of "tradition". If my attitude stinks, so be it; but shoving a load of half-trained people out into an industry for which they have not been equipped and then chivvying them with half-baked rules, regulations and targets is a recipe for disaster and a shocking waste of enthusiasm and faith - and these are what drive people forward.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby johnny h » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:55 am

SevenIndustries wrote:
Ted Kendall wrote:Fair point, but what is this country doing handing out useless bits of paper to young and enthusiastic people which will be damn all use in getting a job in the industry, even assuming there were enough to go round? I could weep with frustration sometimes...

Your attitude, and those who share it, actually make me think that sometimes our industry deserves to die on its knees.

That's a really terrible thing to say. If you are happy to encourage more young people to waste the best years of their lives on chasing pointless dreams, that's one thing, but there's no need to come out with idiotic statements like that.
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Re: Help me with my degree by filling in a Compressor questionnaire =)

Postby Zukan » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:44 am

I think enough fun's been had.

Dude's not getting any help so I'm locking this.
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