July 6, 2007

Open Thread: Compression Discussion...

by Chris Randall

One reader wrote me expressing a wish to have a discussion viz. the various plugin compressors available. Compression is one of those topics that can rapidly get over the head of someone new to recording, as it is an effect you learn about later rather than sooner, and more's the shame, as compression is as much a part of any recording of reasonable quality as is EQ, 'verb, and delay. If you have good recording techniques, you can even take EQ and 'verb out of that equation.

So, open thread topic: what's your favorite NATIVE compressor and why? Personally, I use the Waves SSL pack and the URS products; I've been hearing good things about the Waves API pack, but for the money you could damned near buy a 2500, which would be, IMO, a better purchase. One of these days I'll buy me a Duende, I suppose, but until then I'm in native land, so that's where we'll keep our discussion.



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Jul.06.2007 @ 4:18 AM
If i use compression during recording i mostly use a Distressor or an amek CIB to go into apogee. (on a side note)

The duende is actually really really nice, even the channel strip compressor.
The Sonalksis compressor is one that is often use as it doesn't use that much cpu and or that latest TBK3 which is kinda a preset compressor.

And the UAD compressors... the ones that everybody uses. I also have a liquid mix and since i can not go ahead and say the LA2 is better from uad or it is better in the liquid, it can both be better on certain songs.

Since none of my peaks go above -19dbFS everything sounds nicer anyway, even when using the liquid mix as i see "made up" or interlacing peaks when going above -18db on the Liquid M inputs.

It is much eazier to overdo a native compressor as i wanted to use it more as an effect instead of a controller of soundlevels. But all has changed since i started watching my levels.

But top list is the duende. If you get it to work (which it does on my G5 after a day experimenting with the best hardware setting)
32 channels, great eq, great compressors... SSL , although their mixbuss site is a complete waist.


Jul.06.2007 @ 6:42 AM
i'm not really sure of the definition of "native", but my favourite vst compressors by far are digitalfishphones blockfish for channel and drum buss compression and endorphin for an entire mix.

i've been using them both for years and love their sound. blockfish is very coloured, endorphin can be very colored or very transparent.

they are both free downloads and i recommend them to anyone who hasn't already tried them!


Jul.06.2007 @ 6:51 AM
mike kiraly
The only native compressor I regularly use is the Sony (Sonnox) Oxford Dynamics plug. Technically, I am using a Powercore Firewire to run it, but I figure now that it's native, I can throw this in there. It's my go-to compressor for everything that doesn't beg for the UAD's "character" compressors. I highly recommend it for almost any use.

And since the Duende was brought up - I was an early purchaser and an early seller. Besides not playing well with every part of my system, I felt that plug-ins didn't really live up to the hype. The bus compressor was decent, but for the same money I could get 2 UAD cards with acess to the LA-2A, LA-3A, 1176, Fairchild 670, and Neve 33609 emulations, not to mention the fantastics eq's.


Jul.06.2007 @ 7:08 AM
Yup....Blockfish and Bomb Factory rate as my favs atm...and the standard ProTools compressor plug is quite nice for more subtle stuff once you get the hang of it (tho im sure ill get flamed for that)

I liked the SSL plugs (great for vocs) but they are a bit too pleasant for me...


Jul.06.2007 @ 8:38 AM
well... Sonalksis 315 is really good, and also i like the dynamics part of the channel of Waves 4000, (less the bus compressor).
I quite like the Rvox and RAxe from Waves, but not for vocals.
I've heard a lot about the new URS channel strip pro, as the best channel strip plugin ever but didn't tried it yet.

Jul.06.2007 @ 8:44 AM
indeed native , so no external cpu...
than it's the sonalksis compressors for me, most used native compressor.
Only other native plugin that's interesting is the oxford. But I can't stand ilok which is the main reason why i did not buy the oxford native bundle.

The rest too much promotes "old sound changing fat vibe" compressing, when i just need a good basic compressor, if it has a switch for another "fat" vibe, ok i'll except it. But i tend to change/"fatten"/distort the sound with other gear.


Jul.06.2007 @ 8:57 AM
I really mostly use the UAD-1 compressors.

But, speaking natively, I still use Ozone from iZotope a lot. It doesn't have a lot of "character" per se, but it provides a very useful, clean, easy to use multi band compressor and a nice, flexible, limiter. You get a lot for the money since you also get multiband stereo and exciter effects, a pretty good EQ, and decent mastering reverb. The signal chain is flexible, and the visual feedback it provides is useful.

I usually run it in the EQ->Compressor->Limiter configuration, with the limiter only providing maybe .5db of gain reduction to catch the worst of the transients that are left over after the compressor (usually due to slow attack times, or crazy resonances). I'm finding I generally like the more spacious sound of running reverb and delay after the compression/limiting.


Jul.06.2007 @ 10:30 AM
I tend either not to use compressor at all, or I compress the shit out of the sound. I'm not really a guy who does things halfway. I tend to use PHP Vintagewarmer for some pretty extreme examples of compression/limiting, standalone limiter is usually Kjaerhus Audio MPL1-Pro, and I also use the GCO from Kjaerhus (yes, I like their products) as well, plus sometimes the (free-)classic one for some unknown reason.

I've tried plenty others, but for some reason or another these three (four, really) are the usual suspects. Personally I am not that big on the slight tonal differences between compressors, the shit I do usually has so much distortion and noise that the tone of the compressor doesn't really have any worthwhile of an impact on the big picture (as long as it's not one of those "phat" sounding things).


Jul.06.2007 @ 10:40 AM
Lately I've been using the URS compressors, since a few days ago I've mostly used their Channel Strip Pro and the compressors in there. Other than that McDSP is gold, both CompressorBank and the amazing Channel G.

These are all emulating old hardware, the cleanest compressor I've ever heard is probably the in Flux Solera, it's available as a standalone compressor as well and is called Pure Compressor. I'm a big fan of Flux plug-ins, they sound pretty damn amazing.


Jul.06.2007 @ 11:11 AM
Blockfish, indeed. Spanky!

The old 'CamelPhat Free' for the one-slider dbx "more" approach.

I sold my RNC when I discovered I could [very nearly] match its character with the Ultrafunk Sonitus:fx R3 compressor plug. Love that thing. Cakewalk acquired them, though... dunno the status of their current stuff.


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