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If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun May 12, 2019 8:01 pm

I wonder if there's a patents/IP/trademarking etc issue too? Whereas 1176 emulations seem to be two a penny, there seem to be very few (if any) LA2A emulations out there that aren't seemingly or actually licensed? So by keeping the additional controls etc it's harder to accuse them of ripping off Teletronix patents etc?
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby The Elf » Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 am

There's so much mystic nonsense surrounding all things audio that you would think choosing a compressor like choosing a court wizard.

The one built into Cubase's channel strip is perfectly good for 80% of what anyone might need, and I suspect that's probably the case for most bundled compressors.

As long as a compressor has sufficient attack and release ranges, and does the maths properly then anything else is not about compression.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 9:34 am

There's so much mystic nonsense surrounding all things audio

Well you're pushing against an open door on this one, with me. I started this thread because increasingly I just use Logic's DBX160 emulation for all my compression other than the stereo buss, simply because it seems to work without having to spend time fiddling with knee/attack/release. But, being an amateur practitioner, I start to worry I'm missing something vital by not using the emulations that are, I guess, swathed in the mystic nonsense of which you speak. And when a pro on the forum accuses you of being stupid for merely raising the topic, your confidence in your sonic choices is, of course, further undermined.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby CS70 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:45 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
There's so much mystic nonsense surrounding all things audio

Well you're pushing against an open door on this one, with me. I started this thread because increasingly I just use Logic's DBX160 emulation for all my compression other than the stereo buss, simply because it seems to work without having to spend time fiddling with knee/attack/release. But, being an amateur practitioner, I start to worry I'm missing something vital by not using the emulations that are, I guess, swathed in the mystic nonsense of which you speak. And when a pro on the forum accuses you of being stupid for merely raising the topic, your confidence in your sonic choices is, of course, further undermined.

A lot of the good emulations (or good real compressor) add something beyond the compression functionality.

For example the LA2A changes the sound a little beyond what the compression setting actually does, creating a result that (for me, at least) is much harder to reproduce in, say, FabFilter's C Optical mode (surely my own limits, tough :D).

Lots of the revered boxes do just a little more than what's written on the tin - due, I guess, to the electronics designs involved.

Beyond that, given the same attack and release times, the attack and release curves can (and are, insofar I understand) different among different compressor, even in the same class,; which brings audible changes in timbre, especially with longer settings (it's easier to make any compressor pump for example, so long it has fast enough release and attack capabilities). It's a bit the same difference of using a "slow" or "fast" fade outs - the time's the same but the curves produce noticeably different sonic results.

Ultimately tough they're tools, and as with any tool, if you understand what it does and how, you can get a long way just with one.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dave B » Mon May 13, 2019 9:54 am

Luke W wrote:Fabfilter Pro C2 for me. Useful set of controls, decent metering and just generally does exactly what it needs to do.

+1.

I am so far away from 'golden eared' (more like cloth) so I just want something that does the job and gives me a few options to try.

Of course, I could be really sneaky and say "my old Focusrite Liquid Mix" and get all of the models in there as options.... ;)
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 10:39 am

Haha, definitely not allowed.

I find this whole issue very interesting. So many great records have been made using just the basic compressors built into the desk with none of the fancy outboard ones at all, or with barely any compression at all, I find it odd that so many people seem to obsess about using the Right Compressor (or indeed the Right EQ). Is much of this simply a result of marketing by the manufacturers?

I imagine that LA2As or 1176s etc were often used on what are now considered classic recordings simply because that's all the studio had? And is a lot of this not just part and parcel of the current obsession with all things 'vintage' which seems to say "If it was designed in the 50s with great steaming valves it MUST sound better!"
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Still Vibrations » Mon May 13, 2019 10:39 am

The Elf wrote:There's so much mystic nonsense surrounding all things audio that you would think choosing a compressor like choosing a court wizard.

That's inevitable, there are a lot of non-functional rituals and superstitions around the creative arts. It's nonsense to be scared of flying and spiders but lots of people are. I know from session players that famous producers will have their own inflexible methods of working, favourite instruments and equipment, which is irrational but it makes them feel secure - it worked for them before so they keep using it. We are fallible, imperfect humans, not microprocessors.

When I write text for spoken voice to be played back to an audience as part of a concert I go to the same studio, by the same route, and take the same chocolate to have with coffee, and ask the engineer to use the same valve compressor and analogue eq etc. Sure it is "mystical nonsense" and if I spent sometime under psychotherapy I could probably be cured of it, but as yet it doesn't worry me. My wife who studied psychology thinks these things are perfectly normal.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 10:52 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:I find it odd that so many people seem to obsess about using the Right Compressor (or indeed the Right EQ). Is much of this simply a result of marketing by the manufacturers?

Partly, yes -- but also the copious amounts of unfounded nonsense spouted as absolute fact on so many forums (and magazines). And it covers everything from the type and model of microphone, to cables, to consoles, to all manner of outboard, to converter chips, to software, to monitors and so on...

You can't record vocals without a U67, or record drums without API preamps, or track a bass without an 1176 compressor, or mix without an SSL G-series bus compressor...

It is all complete nonsense, and anyone who really knows what they are doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand -- as evidenced by all those fabulous recordings from the days when the equipment choice was very restricted.

But it's an easy excuse to fall back on when things aren't working out as you'd hoped. This would sound so much better if only I had a U67... or an 1176.,.. or a Neve console....
:-D
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby desmond » Mon May 13, 2019 10:59 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:So many great records have been made using just the basic compressors built into the desk with none of the fancy outboard ones at all

Sure (with a "generalisation" warning) - the SSL desks were the first big pro desks with inbuilt compression/gates per channel and bus compressions, and certainly a lot of records were made this way. SSL had a kind of "pop" reputation, and the compressors certainly have a sound in themselves. SSL comps don't really sound like 1176/LA2A/Fairchild/Neve stuff.

The more rocky crowd often preferred the Neve type consoles, darker/warmer, and those records often used a lot more 1176/LA2A type stuff for rock-centric instrumentation. (Again, generalisations remember, but there is some kind of truth in there...)

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:, or with barely any compression at all, I find it odd that so many people seem to obsess about using the Right Compressor (or indeed the Right EQ). Is much of this simply a result of marketing by the manufacturers?

People obsess about all kinds of things - and no, everything is not the fault of marketing, it's more a fault of being human! ;)

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:I imagine that LA2As or 1176s etc were often used on what are now considered classic recordings simply because that's all the studio had?

Studios had them because they were desirable and useful tools that people wanted.

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:And is a lot of this not just part and parcel of the current obsession with all things 'vintage' which seems to say "If it was designed in the 50s with great steaming valves it MUST sound better!"

There is certainly some of this going on, for sure. The audio industry is full of people using stuff because other people use them, or they were used on other records, but I don't think this is a problem as such. People use what they want to use, and what gets them the desired results. There are always people that only look-backward, people that prefer to only look forward, and every kind in between when it comes to tools.

We are spoilt for choice - choose your own path. :thumbup:
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby desmond » Mon May 13, 2019 11:02 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Partly, yes -- but also the copious amounts of unfounded nonsense spouted as absolute fact on so many forums (and magazines).

Might I suggest a sig update?

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Quasher of Unfounded Audio Nonsense

Or, maybe just, "HR (QUAN)"... :tongue:
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 11:06 am

:bouncy:
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 11:08 am

It is all complete nonsense, and anyone who really knows what they are doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand

Thanks Hugh. That might just be my favourite post of all time. :bouncy: I think I will print it out (in an ecologically caring and sensitive way of course) and stick it to my computer monitor to be re-read every time I consider a new plugin (especially ones with a faux-retro GUI).

Re your Sig, how about Quasher of Unfounded and Mystic Nonsense
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Watchmaker » Mon May 13, 2019 11:42 am

I dislike the LA2A and 1176 compressors myself - at least the emulations, they never sit right to my ears. and I've wasted more mixing time under the delusion that I needed compression at all in the digital realm. and...I think a lot of the sound people are looking to get from squishing the dynamics is really tape compression and those plugins are variously useful. I have one template with every track going through a 2" Otari emulation then into an ATR 2 track and it sounds great on skiffle and ska but not much else :-)

But to the question, I am now using the native Console 1 SSL compression most often, both for ease of use and because it compresses without feeling the need to add a bunch of color.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby The Elf » Mon May 13, 2019 12:04 pm

I feel it necessary to point out that I wasn't being critical of this thread, or anyone posting here! This thread represents a reasonable question, and reasonable answers.

But I must also point out that what I specifically said was "As long as a compressor has sufficient attack and release ranges, and does the maths properly then anything else is not about compression.

If a compressor plug-in chooses to model other aspects of a compressor, such as distortion or other non-linearities, then that is not about compression. It may sound nice to certain ears, but that a different story.

So much nonsense around - it's nice to hear some zero-BS words for a change!
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon May 13, 2019 12:06 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:........And when a pro on the forum accuses you of being stupid for merely raising the topic, your confidence in your sonic choices is, of course, further undermined.

Errrr.... if you’re referring to my post - apologies if it caused offence. To be clear, there was no accusation stupidity, just a nudge at your stated prescription on restrictive answers!

I agree there’s a huge degree of nonsense surrounding such things. However the three compressor emulations I use allow me to get the results I need with minimal knob twiddling. Yes, I’d probably get similar results using Logic’s built in compressor, but it would take more time and I’d need to engage my brain....... something which I try to avoid at all costs.....

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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby blinddrew » Mon May 13, 2019 12:41 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote: but it would take more time and I’d need to engage my brain.......
I don't think this can really be stated enough.
Most compressors will do the same job for the bulk of their useable range. In 90% of cases the 'best' compressor is the one that gets the job done quickest - which will probably be the one you use most - so you can move onto the next job.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby CS70 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:54 pm

The Elf wrote:If a compressor plug-in chooses to model other aspects of a compressor, such as distortion or other non-linearities, then that is not about compression. It may sound nice to certain ears, but that a different story.

Indeed. it's like putting the Pultec on a track, you don't necessarily do it because you want to equalize anything :D
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby OneWorld » Mon May 13, 2019 1:00 pm

Humble Bee wrote:DC1A from Klanghelm tends to get a lot of use. East to use. Sounds great. And is free.

I am in the process of quitting the UAD platform and go native but their LA2A and Fairchild renderings are fantastic and I have used them a lot in the past.

When I don’t need ‘character’ I tend to use the standard ones that come with Logic and Reaper.

:thumbup:

I too am sort of invested in their (UAD) products, including the hardware, and like yourself have come across the Klanghelm products and am convinced
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Kwackman » Mon May 13, 2019 1:25 pm

In the first "proper" music studio I was in, the choice of compressor was "in" or "out".
In my first home studio for many years, it was the same choice!
I now have more software compressors with more controls than I can easily count.
Do my mixes sound better?
Have a guess!
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon May 13, 2019 2:18 pm

I didn't even know what a compressor was when I had my first cassette 4-track. I had rudimentary eq on it (or tone controls as we used to call it, still a more meaningful description than 'equalisation') plus an outboard spring reverb.
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