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Q. Can I use an external compressor with my Roland VS1880?

The Roland VS1880's virtual tracks can come in handy when using external processing.The Roland VS1880's virtual tracks can come in handy when using external processing.

Is there a way of using an external hardware compressor with a Roland VS1880 multitracker for mix compression? I've tried taking the main outs from the VS through my desk, inserting the compressor across the desk inputs, then taking the desk outputs back into the VS1880. I kept signal levels relatively low, but still got a rather intrusive metallic rasp that could have been digital clipping or some kind of feedback. What should do?

SOS Forum Post

Reviews Editor Mike Senior replies: From your description, I think you're probably creating a simple audio feedback loop, which is being turned into flanging by the conversion and processing delay in the multitracker. You've set up a loop which goes from VS1880 main outs, through the external compressor, into the VS channel inputs and on to the main outs again.

Because the input channels you are returning the signal to are feeding the mix buss, you're always going to get a feedback loop this way. The best workaround is to send a signal to the compressor via one of the aux send outputs, switch off the send channel's mix buss switch (thereby disconnecting it from the main mix buss), and then returning the compressor's output via the VS1880 inputs as before.

However, whether you can spare these outputs within the context of your mix (you may, like me, be running external send effects as well) is open to question. Why not record the compressed version as a new virtual track (or several different compressed versions if you want some mixdown options) and then sort out any other dynamics problems with some nifty level automation? I've found that this gives me the most flexibility and the best final results.