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Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

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Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby lostintechnology » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:45 pm

Hi guys,

I'm currently using soft synths on a DIGI 003 and I'm looking for an external compressor/ limiter so that I can feed all digital sounds (individually) through it, beef up the sounds and stop them from sounding too digital. I guess this is a common problem.

Now, I'm between the Empirical Labs Distressor EL8S, the Universal Audio 2-1176 (which I've actually heard that it doesn't really sound as good as the mono version of 1176) and the Avalon VT-747SP.

I don't really know which one would be the best option for my applications so, any advice and help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby jaminem » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:04 pm

hhhmm. I have no experience of using the hardware versions of the compressors you describe but splashing out £2k on a hardware unit just to beef things up seems like overkill to me. What happens if it doesn`t do it for you?

I'd say its a common misconception that you can`t get phatness without using hardware

Have you not considered the software route?

There are some really good emulations out there that can beef things up without having to resort to hardware and are alot more flexible and cheaper, and aren`t reliant on the quality of your ADA

The Softube/TC Electonic Tubetech emulation adds loads of thickness, as does the UAD Fatso and my personal favourite for adding beef though not a compressor is the soundtoys decapitator.

Not saying a decent quality HW compressor is not an exremely useful item to have round the studio for tracking through or processing, but its unlikely to suit everything you put through it and gets nowhere near the flexibility of a UAD2 card, and a couple of choice plugins, or a bundle from waves or softube or the like.

I'd give those a demo first before spending a huge wad on a compressor just to beef things up.

YMMV
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby Mixedup » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:05 pm

What you're asking about is *such* a subjective thing.

Pretty much anything with transformers should do what I *think* you're asking about. But FWIW, the Golden Age Comp 54 I've reviewed in the current (April) issue of SOS would be one such unit.

HOWEVER you should probably give this article a thorough read before you dive in.

What you've heard about 1176s might or might not be true. There have been several different revisions over the years and despite them offering similar compression characteristics, some of them have very different sonic side-effects. Whether you prefer, say, a Revision C to a Revision H is going to be very much down to your own tastes. All nice, though.

But have you tried simply running those 'sterile' digital sounds through an amp/speaker, miked up... or even through amp-sim software? That's a different kind of warmth which often seems to work for me...
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:18 pm

There’s nothing about a hardware compressor that will magically stop anything sounding ‘too digital’ (and I honestly don’t know what that means TBH). This is rather like adding garlic to every meal you eat to stop it tasting too ‘supermarket’!

If you want a compressor for its own sake (and those are some very nice boxes you’re considering) then fine, go for it, but I think you’re actually looking for a magic ‘make everything better’ box and in my experience it simply doesn’t exist.

‘Beef up’ every sound in your mix and I think you’ll be left trying to find space for everything. A good mix has beef and lettuce, sweet and sour, fat and thin. The trick is to make them all work together. Look after your signal path, record with sensible headroom and make tasteful, creative mixing decisions and I think you’ll get closer to a warm, full sound without spending money.

HTH!
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby lostintechnology » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:28 pm

Thanks so much for the replies guys. You've certainly made things quite clear. I do have the Producers Pack on the 003 (additional plugs/ EQs etc) but still, mixes sound flat and lifeless. Plug-ins just don't do it for me so I thought that an external, good quality limiter/ comp would do the job. I'll give the UAD's a try anyway and see how it goes...
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby jaminem » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:59 am

lostintechnology wrote:Thanks so much for the replies guys. You've certainly made things quite clear. I do have the Producers Pack on the 003 (additional plugs/ EQs etc) but still, mixes sound flat and lifeless. Plug-ins just don't do it for me so I thought that an external, good quality limiter/ comp would do the job. I'll give the UAD's a try anyway and see how it goes...

With respect, the plugins you have described above are not considered to be at the top of the plugin heap, so that may be a reason why they don't do it for you, but also its down to how you use them as much as the plugs themselves.

You'll have to buy a UAD card to try their plugins out, which is a pain if you don't want to invest in hardware however you can get a 30 day fully functional demo of the Soundtoys Decapitator for free. Used in moderation it really does do the business. Why not give it a try
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby turbodave » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:42 am

Hi, I have bought 2 plug ins in my life.......nomads "magnetic" and cytomic "the glue"...under £100 for the 2 and they will probably do the kind of thing you are after.Dave
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby chew_rocket » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:56 am

jaminem wrote:
lostintechnology wrote:Thanks so much for the replies guys. You've certainly made things quite clear. I do have the Producers Pack on the 003 (additional plugs/ EQs etc) but still, mixes sound flat and lifeless. Plug-ins just don't do it for me so I thought that an external, good quality limiter/ comp would do the job. I'll give the UAD's a try anyway and see how it goes...

With respect, the plugins you have described above are not considered to be at the top of the plugin heap, so that may be a reason why they don't do it for you, but also its down to how you use them as much as the plugs themselves.

You'll have to buy a UAD card to try their plugins out, which is a pain if you don't want to invest in hardware however you can get a 30 day fully functional demo of the Soundtoys Decapitator for free. Used in moderation it really does do the business. Why not give it a try

+1 on the decapitator.

If I'm struggling to mix something into a track I crack out the decapitor and all my troubles are dead!

Great on anything from snare drums to vocals, used both subtley and aggresively.
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby robi » Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:23 pm

lostintechnology wrote:Plug-ins just don't do it for me so I thought that an external, good quality limiter/ comp would do the job. I'll give the UAD's a try anyway and see how it goes...


I've heard a lot of mixes done with just the basic bundled plug-ins from DAW-s which sounded great and nothing like "digital" (whatever that means). It is true that this mixes were made by persons who now hove to do it.

My opinion is if you don't now how to do it with "normal" plug-ins, maybe also the "other" plug-ins, or hardware will not help. Before spending money for extra "equipment" try to invest in some education.

robi
P.S. decapitator is great
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby The Fold Studios » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:44 am

This is rather like adding garlic to every meal you eat to stop it tasting too ‘supermarket’!


Brilliant
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby Shambolic Charm » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:20 pm

+1 for Magnetic
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby hugol » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:19 pm

turbodave wrote:Hi, I have bought 2 plug ins in my life.......nomads "magnetic" and cytomic "the glue"...under £100 for the 2 and they will probably do the kind of thing you are after.Dave

+1 I've bought dozen of expensive plug-ins over the years and these two are simply great.
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby Pajo » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:40 am

OP:

I recommend Empirical Labs Fatso -- it was designed just for this purpose and can be very subtle yet pleasing for warming up cold synths! You can dial as much or as little color as you want, very controllable.

I got mine several years ago and it has aged very well, always finding new uses.

And yes, I'm a weirdo that still prefers hardware.
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Re: Compressor/ Limiter for beefing up computer sounds.

Postby Mixedup » Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:18 pm

Speaking of which, there's actually quite a good model of the Fatso on the UAD platform. Liking the Studer more for 'warmifying' though.

The plug-ins might not be quite as good as the real thing, though they're pretty cost effective ways of finding out if the real thing is likely to come up with the goods!
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