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Master Compressors for my synth PA?

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  • Master Compressors for my synth PA?

    I got a new PA amp, a Crown 2400, it will be dedicated to all my synths, and drum machines. I'll be running everything into a mixer then into the amp. I'd like to get a rack compressor to put on the main out between the mixer and the amp, to limit, and protect the cabs from peaks, but also to make the sound extra delicious.



    Preferably two channels, it's a stereo amp and I'm running cabs, and a sub with it respectively, so I'd like set compression for both sides individually. Should I just get two RNC 1773's? Or are there better options in the same price range, or a little step up?



    I'm also thinking about getting a compressor or two for the effects sends, to squash my drum sounds, and side chain. Lots of options, any comp gurus out there want to put me on the right path?
    <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

  • #2
    Compressors can be good if you know what you are doing, especially for drums. But don't forget your synths probably have built in compressors as well.

    Comment


    • #3
      oboy here goes again.



      Sure, a limiter makes sense, to avoid problems when you make mistakes, or when waves just happen to line up and scream.



      Other than that, I'm not a big fan of master compression for a keyboard mix. For example, when I'm holding a chord or a pad with one hand and strike a loud note or chord with the other, I don't want the held chord to drop out, which is exactly what a master compressor would do. I'm in control of the volumes, and I don't want some idiot magic fairy in a compressor to second guess me.



      That said, there are keyboard sounds that I like compression on. That's another matter, and if I want that I'll do it using the keyboard's built-in FX. (No harm using outboard, but it gets too complicated for me to manage.) But no, not master compression. If the quiet parts needed to be louder, just turn them up, as you're playing. If the louder parts needed to be quieter, just turn them down.



      If I can't play with proper dynamics, I can't expect a processor to fix it by reducing dynamics. The biggest mistake most players have is too little dynamics in the first place. Add a compressor and that just makes it worse.



      I believe this was discussed to death on a recent thread or two, but it might have been on a different board.
      learjeff.net

      Comment


      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by learjeff
        View Post

        oboy here goes again.





        If I can't play with proper dynamics, I can't expect a processor to fix it by reducing dynamics. The biggest mistake most players have is too little dynamics in the first place. Add a compressor and that just makes it worse.



        I believe this was discussed to death on a recent thread or two, but it might have been on a different board.




        what you say makes sense for a keyboard player however i am not that. I'm a drummer triggering drum synths for the most part, playing along with automated sequences on a couple monosynths.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

        Comment


        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by SoundwaveLove
          View Post

          what you say makes sense for a keyboard player however i am not that. I'm a drummer triggering drum synths for the most part, playing along with automated sequences on a couple monosynths.




          Then it sounds like you want to "glue" the mix together. A nice transparent compressor set at 2:1 or 3:1 compression with just a few DBs of gain reduction will do the trick. My fave is the Drawmer DL241 but, one RNC 1773 will do the job. Since you mentioned two RNCs are you wanting to do the Max Dense Mix?





          MAXIMUM 2MIX DENSITY

          This one is great for stereo mixes. By levelling out your mixes, you'll help them translate well to cassette, MiniDisc, or any other format you may be using.

          To start, try it on a CD you like, or a mix you're familiar with. You'll need 2 RNCs.





          1. With RNC #2 bypassed, set RNC #1 as follows:

          Super Nice Mode

          Ratio = 25:1

          Attack and Release between 120 and 20

          Threshold so that you're getting about 6-8 dB of compression

          An appropriate amount of makeup gain; around 6-8 dB is a good start.





          2. Un-bypass RNC #2 and set it:

          Normal mode

          Ratio = 25:1

          Fastest attack and release

          Threshold such that you're getting about 2-4 dB of peak control.





          http://www.fmraudio.com/rncApplications.htm

          Comment


          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by SoundwaveLove
            View Post

            what you say makes sense for a keyboard player however i am not that. I'm a drummer triggering drum synths for the most part, playing along with automated sequences on a couple monosynths.




            So, you want the ride cymbal to drop out when you hit the snare?
            learjeff.net

            Comment


            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by burster
              View Post

              Then it sounds like you want to "glue" the mix together. A nice transparent compressor set at 2:1 or 3:1 compression with just a few DBs of gain reduction will do the trick. My fave is the Drawmer DL241 but, one RNC 1773 will do the job. Since you mentioned two RNCs are you wanting to do the Max Dense Mix?



              http://www.fmraudio.com/rncApplications.htm






              I want two because I'm probably going to get a cross over and run a sub with one channel and my PA speakers with the other channel. I'm thinking I'd like the sub comp to be set differently then the highs.



              I like this max dense idea, of course i tend to experiment, but i think mostly I'm looking for the glue as you said, and since it's dance music I may side chain my kick against the whole mix for a techno sound.



              After doing some reading I'm about ready to pull the trigger on a ART Pro VLA II 2-Channel Compressor, they have great reviews and I like a little tube color. But I'm going to consider the Drawmer DL241 you recommended. It's a bit more than i wanted to spend, but I've never regretting buying nicer gear.









              Quote Originally Posted by learjeff
              View Post

              So, you want the ride cymbal to drop out when you hit the snare?




              Would that happen with normal compression settings? I'm assumed I'd need to side chain to get that effect.

              If it sounds good I may want that on occasion, but mostly it's for glue, so don't think i'd do anything so extreme for normal life settings. I do have a couple other compressors i intend to use on the inserts for the kick and the snare.
              <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

              Comment


              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by SoundwaveLove
                View Post







                Quote Originally Posted by learjeff


                So, you want the ride cymbal to drop out when you hit the snare?




                Would that happen with normal compression settings? I'm assumed I'd need to side chain to get that effect.




                That's how a compressor always works (if you have it on the mix rather than on each instrument).



                When the mix gets too loud, it turns down the volume. So, if you're riding the ride nice and smooth and then whack the snare enough to go over the threshold, the compressor turns down the master volume, and the ride drops. Normally that's NOT what we want.



                This raises the question of why compression can sound so good on a full mix, because the same thing happens there too, in theory. The answer is that a full mix shouldn't normally have something that jumps way high over the rest of the mix -- at least, not if it's a good mix. Most of the time, that latest loudest note is only a bit over the rest of the mix, and the master gain goes down only a little. When the latest loudest note does go way over the rest of the mix, well up past the threshold, it causes what folks call "pumping". Not good! Master compression has to be used very carefully in sparse, dynamic music, like certain disco-like tracks with a fair amount of quiet in between really loud beats. For that, you'd either use multiband compression, or "master" compression on submixes/stems rather than the full mix.



                IMHO, a drum track shouldn't need any glue that you can't provide by playing the kit well, at least not for live purposes. Some limiting, no problem: it takes a real serious player to never hit something too loud. There's no harm in having the limiter there if it never gets tickled, and there's definite good if a peak might do damage to gear or ears.



                If it sounds good I may want that on occasion, but mostly it's for glue, so don't think i'd do anything so extreme for normal life settings. I do have a couple other compressors i intend to use on the inserts for the kick and the snare.[/QUOTE]



                The bottom line though is whether it sounds good and there's only one way to find out. Furthermore, it takes a lot of trials to get the parameters ideal for how you play and what you want. IMHO, compression on a drum submix is best in the studio, where you can fine-tune it for the particular performance and get all the "do-overs" you want. I have a hard time imagining a good "one size fits all" setup for a live performance.



                However, you can hardly throw a stone on this forum without hitting someone with far more experience than I have, and I haven't ever tried to set up a compressor for a live drum mix.
                learjeff.net

                Comment


                • #9
                  One last parting shot. Why would a drummer want to REDUCE his or her dynamic range? That's what a compressor does: dynamic range reduction.



                  Most drummers use too little range; they have three settings: loud, too loud, and OMyGodStopThat! I'm super lucky as an amateur to have a few drummers I play with who can play soft as a whisper or blood-curdlingly loud, as the situation demands. My previous experience is that drummers have a hard time playing soft. A compressor keeps you from playing softer (or from playing louder). What's the point?



                  Similarly, why would I put a compressor on my piano? I can control the volume of each note already. Why would I want a device to override that? (The answer is to get more sustain, but at the expense of pumping if overdone.)
                  learjeff.net

                  Comment


                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by learjeff
                    View Post

                    One last parting shot. Why would a drummer want to REDUCE his or her dynamic range? That's what a compressor does: dynamic range reduction.




                    It's a good point you make, and I would never want to compress the mix on my acoustic drum kit. However it's a bit different when triggering synth moduals. I'm probably going to try comping everything independently first.
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

                    Comment


                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by learjeff
                      View Post

                      One last parting shot. Why would a drummer want to REDUCE his or her dynamic range? That's what a compressor does: dynamic range reduction.



                      Most drummers use too little range; they have three settings: loud, too loud, and OMyGodStopThat! I'm super lucky as an amateur to have a few drummers I play with who can play soft as a whisper or blood-curdlingly loud, as the situation demands. My previous experience is that drummers have a hard time playing soft. A compressor keeps you from playing softer (or from playing louder). What's the point?



                      Similarly, why would I put a compressor on my piano? I can control the volume of each note already. Why would I want a device to override that? (The answer is to get more sustain, but at the expense of pumping if overdone.)




                      You would compress a drum mix to.



                      1) Control the transients and get the punchzzz (Or sustain).

                      2) Gluing it together.



                      However. mastering compressors are usually different from even this using very low ratio of 1.2 or 1.4 sometimes even in RMS mode... to get things louder and so on. IMO this type of thing is just a bit unnecessary for live mix.



                      Additionally you could use parallel heavy compression on the mix or overheads to get a bit more punch out of the set.





                      It's actually a mixconception that compression is always used to reduce dynamics.










                      1. With RNC #2 bypassed, set RNC #1 as follows:

                      Super Nice Mode

                      Ratio = 25:1

                      Attack and Release between 120 and 20

                      Threshold so that you're getting about 6-8 dB of compression

                      An appropriate amount of makeup gain; around 6-8 dB is a good start.





                      2. Un-bypass RNC #2 and set it:

                      Normal mode

                      Ratio = 25:1

                      Fastest attack and release

                      Threshold such that you're getting about 2-4 dB of peak control.



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I ordered an ART VLA II. I'll do some experimenting and see what I come up with.



                        <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by Thorhead
                          View Post

                          It's actually a mixconception that compression is always used to reduce dynamics.




                          Misconception or not, it's exactly what a compressor does. When the volume goes over the threshold, it turns down the gain. In fact, the full technical name for one is "dynamic range compressor".



                          Good luck with that SoundwaveLove and let us know what you think.
                          learjeff.net

                          Comment


                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by learjeff
                            View Post

                            Misconception or not, it's exactly what a compressor does. When the volume goes over the threshold, it turns down the gain. In fact, the full technical name for one is "dynamic range compressor".



                            Good luck with that SoundwaveLove and let us know what you think.




                            This depends on what you mean by dynamic range.



                            A compression over a snare hit can increase it's crest factor or dynamic range, but over a complete track it most likely can't.



                            To put this differently, compression would reduces the dynamic range of ppp to fff in music, but it could still increase the crest factor of a single hit.





                            And congratz on your comp Soundwavelove

                            Comment


                            • #15






                              Quote Originally Posted by Thorhead
                              View Post



                              A compression over a snare hit can increase it's crest factor or dynamic range, but over a complete track it most likely can't.



                              To put this differently, compression would reduces the dynamic range of ppp to fff in music, but it could still increase the crest factor of a single hit.





                              And congratz on your comp Soundwavelove




                              thanks! And yes, comps can do especially amazing things to snares and kick drums!
                              <div class="signaturecontainer">WTB: Allen &amp; Heath Xone VF-1 Filter</div>

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