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Hardware compressors around £400

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Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Scouser » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:18 pm

I am considering a hardware compressor for use with vocals and acoustic guitars, looking for something simple to use which may add a little colour analog feel to my recordings.
I have heard/read good things about the Golden Age units in this price range and just wondered what suggestions you may have.

Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:28 pm

Are you thinking as something to use on the way in or something to use as a send/return? One or two channel?

Scouser wrote:Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?
Headaches! ;)
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:31 pm

Scouser wrote:Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?

Knobs...
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:33 pm

If want to chose one, a bit depends on the genre and what you expect to achieve, and if it's only for you. A LA-3A is not a bad compromise as a do-it-all mono unit and the Golden Age one is well regarded and it's really easy to use.

Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?

The fact that you have knobs to turn.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:38 pm

blinddrew wrote:Are you thinking as something to use on the way in or something to use as a send/return? One or two channel?

Scouser wrote:Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?
Headaches! ;)

:bouncy:
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Scouser » Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:11 pm

CS70 wrote:If want to chose one, a bit depends on the genre and what you expect to achieve, and if it's only for you. A LA-3A is not a bad compromise as a do-it-all mono unit and the Golden Age one is well regarded and it's really easy to use.

Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?

The fact that you have knobs to turn.

Okay so the genre is acoustic-based music, i.e. acoustic guitars & vocals. Looking to use it on the way in, rather than send/return. As for what I expect, compression primarily, with a little added colour/analog. Which of the golden age products do you think would suit my needs.

Also I wondered what the noise floor is like on these units, as I have minimised this recently, with my mix pre-3mI sound devices that I am using.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby The Elf » Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:25 pm

Keep your money in your pocket, mate. There are better things you can do with it.

But if you really must... take a look at the Klark Teknik KT-76.

...and keep the change in your pocket.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:16 pm

Scouser wrote:Okay so the genre is acoustic-based music, i.e. acoustic guitars & vocals. Looking to use it on the way in, rather than send/return. As for what I expect, compression primarily, with a little added colour/analog.

It is generally not the best idea to print eq, dynamics and/or fx to the track. If you do you have to be very confident that you have the sound you want and won't want to change it when you hear it in context. This came back to bite me on the bum with the track I have on the forum album where I recorded the bass through my new Headrush Gigboard, it sounds gorgeous in isolation but good in context only on a decent full range system, if I had recorded a dry version I could have re-amped it.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Luke W » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:06 pm

Scouser wrote:Also wondered what hardware might bring that software doesn’t deliver ?

Most of the time I'm more bothered by what it takes away :D

But that's not really helpful, and there's some good suggestions here already. I never realised quite how cheap the KT-76 is!
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:30 pm

What are you wanting to achieve with your compressor(s)?
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Scouser » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:59 pm

blinddrew wrote:What are you wanting to achieve with your compressor(s)?

Some nice transparent compression for tracking vocals & acoustic guitars mainly.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:03 pm

Hmmm. I would have thought that would be easier and probably better done using software once you're in the box.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby Random Guitarist » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:16 pm

Interesting set of responses .

Personally I do print some light hardware compression on vocals going in, using the Golden Age 3a, I like the sound and find it predictable. Not sure I'd use it on acoustic guitar though as my results when I was testing with it were less than stellar.

For me the thing it gives me over software compressors is it seems to just sound 'right' without a lot of fussing over settings. A bit like digital modelling and amps, the modeller can sound great, but the amp gets there more easily.

Or maybe it's all just confirmation bias and I'm fooling myself, only you can decide what works for you. I'd suggest digging into the available free/low cost software compressors and find a character that works for you before doing anything else,
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:26 pm

The only time you need compression going in is when you are doing a tape based session where you need to limit the dynamic range (or you know you will have a limited number of compressors at mixdown). In that case I'd look at the FMR RNC which is very transparent and won't colour the sound too much.

Otherwise I'd echo the thoughts of the other contributors here - go for a plug-in compressor on the track.
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Re: Hardware compressors around £400

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:31 pm

Scouser wrote:
blinddrew wrote:What are you wanting to achieve with your compressor(s)?

Some nice transparent compression for tracking vocals & acoustic guitars mainly.

If you want transparent and you are recording digitally at 24 bit, there's no need at all... that's because If your gain range is anywhere near reasonable, you will be very far from the noise floor while simply not being able to overshot. Or vice-versa, if you are overshooting and feel you need a compressor, it means that your gain structure is wrong. A compressor set up to as transparent - slow attack, fast release, threshold set to grab only the loudest transients, will do literally nothing - it'll be like you were recording with a bit less bits but still in the sweet spot.

The only reason nowadays to use your compressor in input is to color the signal. I do it all the time with my LA 610 but just because I like what it does... and transparent, it's not.. because it's the point.

But you mentioned "analogue color"... then I'd suggest you focus on any kit with transformers inside, regardless of what it is (can certainly be a compressor, of course). That will not be transparent but give some additional character to the signal, especially not high end stuff (which tends to be expensively designed to be very linear in its behavior).

However, and apologies if I am wrong, I can't but suspect that the real answer to "what do you want to do" is "add something to my mixes that I feel it's missing".. in which case you have the right idea but the wrong solution. Outboard it ain't - unless you're prepared to go for a full good recording studio desk and multitrack in anger thru it. Everything else being equal (performance skills and recording space), you're probably better off experimenting with different microphones or look at your mixing chops.
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