For drumkit, Outboard rack compressor/gate VS vst plugin???

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Gmork, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    Going to be tracking a drum kit. Trying to decide if we should rent an outboard rack compressor/gate like the dbx 166xs and use it WHILE recording into an interface or just record to interface and use a compressor/gate vst plugin in the DAW afterwards?
    Pros/Cons of each?
    Thoughts?
     
  2. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    I would just do it after tracking.

    I assume you already own vst compressors and gates (at least the ones on your daw). So the outboard gear would just cost extra money.

    If you process while recording and you already make mistakes there (wrong compression, false gate settings) you will never have the chance to make up for it. You would either have to live with it or to re-record. Not good.
    If you really wanna use outboard stuff then you can used it after recording anyways.

    So unless you are a very experienced engineer you wouldn't take the unnecessary risk.
     
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  3. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Yea, look, on top of what was said above, even if you DO get it right... the quality of a 166xs is... eh... most emulations of classic ones will add more character and give your drums more punch.

    Basically unless it's a rack of 1176s, LA-2As, Distressors, SSL Channel compressors, Chandler TG-1s and the like... I wouldn't bother.
     
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  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    With a plugin, you have a lot more flexibility, durability, and portability. Plus, they tens to be cheaper than physical units, and they take up a lot less space.

    The only fatal flaw I think there is, would be the lack of ability to record using plugins with analogue equipment.
     
  5. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    Use what you're comfortable with. If you don't know what sound you're after don't just throw stuff in your chain for the sake of using it. Stick to less processing on the way in.
     
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  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...and even then, unless you know the gear pretty well, the odds of you really nailing it while tracking and not wanting to tweak settings after the fact are pretty low.

    Definitely true of gates, BTW. About the only time I could think of when you wouldn't be better off foregoing a gate and either using an intelligent gate in the mix or simply cleaning up your tracks by hand, would be if you had a whole rack of 1176s, LA-2As, Distressors, SSL Channel compressors, Chandler TG-1s and the like, that you had rented just for the tracking, and you were experienced enough with the gate and the compressors to both get a really transparent gate set up, and really nail the compression settings tracking to disc.

    Other than that, you're probably better off merely leaving yourself enough rope, rather than actually going and hanging yourself while tracking. :lol:
     
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  7. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    Super valid points. So what are some good free/affordable compressor/gate plugins?

    I use reaper on PC and have a few add ons but am interested in hearing what you guys use.

    And in general is there a good starting setting for a compressor for getting drums big and punchy?
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    On PC, I really liked the Antress stuff for free plugins.

    http://antress.blogspot.com/

    The biggest downside, I suppose (aside from the fact that, while I liked how they sounded, they're pretty old at this point), is that they function exactly like rack gear, so it's a matter of twisting knobs and listening, rather than looking at ratios, threshold levels, and modern digital meters... But, at the same time, that's also their biggest strength, as it forces you to use your ears.

    Their Lost Angel is a great opto-style compressor, and while you can use it to great effect on overheads, it also rules on bass and vocals (and acoustic guitars) where you want dynamic control, but you want it very transparent.

    The Seventh Sign is their take on a 1176, which is a great option to either smash a room mic for a big rock mix sort of vibe, or to use as an aggressive parallel compressor (the old LA trick, route a send from your kick, snare, and toms to a separate "compressor" track, absolutely crush it with aggressive compression, and then gradually bring it up until you like what you're hearing but maybe 6-8db behind the main drum mix if you need a starting point, to get a drum mix with good transients, but also to bring up the "body" of the drum sounds).

    I'd say that either relying on a heavily compressed room mic, or a parallel compression bus, is a good way to make drums "punchy" without absolutely flattening them... But, if your mixing experience is at a point where you're asking for "good compressor settings for drums," then definitely save your money and don't rent rack gear while you're tracking. :yesway:
     
  9. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    Stick to the reaper plugins for now. There's no point in getting a bunch of tools if you have no idea how to utilize what you already have at hand.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Actually, I meant to say this as well, so thanks for adding it. :yesway:

    I've grabbed a couple "color" compressor plugins since I switched to Mac and lost access to the (PC only) Antress stuff... but, honestly, I'd say 80% of the time when I use a compressor it's just ReaComp. There are others I'll turn to for specific effects, but if what I'm after is pure dynamics control, Reaper's stock compressor is great.
     
  11. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    For the past couple years ive used reapers Xcomp multiband extensively and lately been using reacomp as well with decent results but my kicks still seem to lack that real punchiness im wanting .
    obviously the error is on my end rather than reapers of course .
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    By the way, I don't know which of your threads is the most appropriate one to ask this in, but...

    ...this sounds a lot like it's going to be both one of your first major recording projects, and also one where you really care a lot about getting it right. So, how much recording experience do you have, in general, and in particular with tracking drums?

    There's not a ton I can really data-dump in your general direction that will make sure your project is a success, but...

    1) in general... while tracking, don't come anywhere CLOSE to peaking at -0db. IT's a bit different if you're working with really, really, really nice preamps and converters, but on prosumer grade stuff I'd recommend not peaking above -10-12db. A full mix at that level is going to come pretty close to peaking on the master bus anyway, and the one thing you CANNOT "fix in the mix," well, aside from a poor performance, is clipped/smashed transients from overloading the front of your preamps.
    2) for modern metal you're probably going to want to spot-mic everything, but if a hyped, clinical "metal" sounding kit isn't part of what you're chasing, and you're after a more "rock" sound, something like the Glyn Johns technique or a spaced pair of overheads with a supporting spot mic on the kick and snare can work well provided you've got a good room. Just spend a lot of time making SURE the overheads are in phase with each other, if you're using an approach that makes them a dominant part of the drum sound.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Could be EQ, could be performance, could be compressor settings. When you say lacking punchiness, what do you mean, do they sound dull, do they sound flat, do they sound too thin...?
     
  14. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    we can't really offer advice without hearing a sample.
     

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