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Onboard versus outboard compressors


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Hey, Phil!

 

I record on a Tascam 2488neo and have been posting questions on a couple of forums about using compression to reduce vocal spikes. Two questions for you:

 

1. I've gotten a lot of comments, and the advice has been pretty consistent overall. The one area where folks don't quite line up is the question of whether a budget mic preamp/compressor would be a good investment. I've been looking at the ART Tube MP/C. It's within my budget and gets pretty good reviews. But some folks have warned me that units under $100 just don't sound good.

 

So: Can it help my vocal tracks, or is it a waste of money?

 

2. The compression section of the Tascam just doesn't seem to do anything. The spikes don't change no matter where I set the on-screen dials. How likely is it that the Tascam's compressor simply doesn't work?

 

Thanks!

Edited by Delmont
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Hey, Phil!

 

Hey Del! :wave:

 

I record on a Tascam 2488neo and have been posting questions on a couple of forums about using compression to reduce vocal spikes. Two questions for you:

 

1. I've gotten a lot of comments, and the advice has been pretty consistent overall. The one area where folks don't quite line up is the question of whether a budget mic preamp/compressor would be a good investment. I've been looking at the ART Tube MP/C. It's within my budget and gets pretty good reviews. But some folks have warned me that units under $100 just don't sound good.

 

So: Can it help my vocal tracks, or is it a waste of money?

 

2. The compression section of the Tascam just doesn't seem to do anything. The spikes don't change no matter where I set the on-screen dials. How likely is it that the Tascam's compressor simply doesn't work?

 

Thanks!

 

 

I've never used the TASCAM, so I can't speak to the quality of its mic preamps or compressor. I suspect that like most products of its type it has fairly neutral sounding mic preamps with modest amounts of maximum gain. The preamps in units like that are generally serviceable and do their job, but obviously won't usually compare favorably to high-end units.

 

As far as the ART, it will probably sound "different", but I don't know that I'd expect it to sound "better" - you may like the coloration it adds or you may not. The only way to know is to try it out with your mic and voice and see what you think. Buy from somewhere with a good return policy in case you don't like it.

 

I'm not positive, but I think the TASCAM's compressor is only available on the stereo bus, not for individual tracks and channels. Usually you'd want to record vocals with some light to moderate compression, or process the vocal track(s) with compression separately from the full mix. If the TASCAM doesn't have a compressor that you can apply to single channels or tracks, you might want to get an external compressor. Since the ART you're considering also has a compressor built-in, you may find it useful for that.

 

As to whether I'd normally recommend a $100 mic pre... no, honestly, I normally would not. In most cases I don't think they offer much of a "step up" from the built-in mic preamps on units such as yours... but again, since you don't have a compressor either, it may be a good choice for you - but you'll only find out by trying it and seeing what you think.

 

 

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