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Q. Which budget compressor and mic should I buy?

FMR's Really Nice Compressor lives up to its name and won't break the bank, at £199.FMR's Really Nice Compressor lives up to its name and won't break the bank, at £199.

Firstly, I'd just like to say a big thank you for writing the 'Advanced Compression' article that appeared in December's SOS. I knew of some of the things you mentioned, but you have hammered home each point and I have learnt a great deal.

Can I ask your advice on which good budget compression units currently available are most suited to modern dance/trance music? I may also use it for a little guitar and vocal work too, but mainly for synths. Also, could you advise me on mics (around the Rode NT1 price range, or less) which would be good for vocal work, as well as for recording instruments such as acoustic guitar and percussion. With the mic, would I be able to record directly to my SBLive Platinum card, or would it need the use of a preamp?

Tim Edwards

Editor Paul White replies: I'm glad you liked the compression article. For synths, all you really need is something to keep the filter sweeps under control without messing up the sound too much. As most synths are stereo, I'd recommend the £199 FMR RNC stereo compressor that we reviewed in the September 2000 issue of the magazine. Alternatively, you could check out the Drawmer MX series compressor (MX30 reviewed July '97), or one of the Joemeek models.

As for mics, at the price the Rode NT1 is going for at the moment, you can't really better it — I use one for nearly everything, including acoustic guitar. It needs a phantom power mic preamp, so you can't plug it directly into a sound card. If you don't have a suitable preamp, a compressor with a mic preamp built in might be more cost effective, though be aware that most of these are only mono. If your budget allows, you could consider the RNC compressor plus a Joemeek VC3 voice channel (reviewed June '99), as you'll be able to use the VC3 to compress vocals and monosysnths, as well as for mic recording.