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Author Topic: FMR Really Nice Compressor  (Read 23389 times)

blueboy

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FMR Really Nice Compressor
« on: June 15, 2006, 03:33:43 pm »

I'm thinking about getting the RNC to use while tracking as I am not totally happy with using only software compression.

The plan would be to compress lightly on the way in, and then use additional software compression (if needed) during mixdown.

My questions are:

Is this a good idea to work this way?

Is the RNC transparent enough not to mess with the audio too much during tracking if used with discretion?

Would it be advisable to use the "Supernice" mode while tracking vocals?

Thanks for any feedback.

JL
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Vertigo

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2006, 04:02:58 pm »

It's a great idea to work this way, and the RNC is well suited for this task.

Just keep in mind that compressing a signal on the way in sounds a great deal different than compressing a signal on the way out. Unless you're compressing for effect (which the RNC isn't great at anyway), be conservative with your settings, especially while you're getting the "hang" of operating the RNC. It's VERY easy to ruin a track with bad use of compression.

"Supernice" mode is very transparent, and I really like it for tracking vocals. I'll usually comp about 6-9db at a 2:1 ratio (sometimes a bit higher) on the way in, just enough to smooth out the track without really being noticable and leaving plenty of room for additional comping at mixdown. Someone here once posted that compression is like paint - several thin coats are better than one thick coat. This is great advice!

I also love what the RNC does for tracking electric guitars. I'll use it in "Normal" mode, 2:1 ratio, fast attack and fast release, with about 3db of compression on the peaks. It sucks a bit more tone out of the cabs and makes the guitars sound nice and full. Again, be very careful with your attack/release times or you'll wind up with flat, "dead" sounding tracks.

And I think it's great for acoustic guitar, bass DI's, and sometimes the bass mic. But I don't like the RNC on drums at all, although I've heard that some people do.

Definitely a great tool for tracking - good luck!

-Lance
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blueboy

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2006, 01:38:10 pm »

Thanks very much for the response Lance, I guess you have the definitive answer on this one.

I have to say I am leery about something so "affordable", but it seems to get a lot of positive reviews so I guess I'll give it a try. I'm trying to resist the urge to spend some real bucks on a higher-end compressor until I produce something worthy of the expense.

I figure if the RNC doesn't give me what I want for my recordings, I can always use it in my home theatre system to tame the level of those annoying loud commercials!

JL
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McAllister

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2006, 01:44:53 pm »

Quote:

I have to say I am leery about something so "affordable", but it seems to get a lot of positive reviews so I guess I'll give it a try.


Do not be put off by it's affordability - it is a fantastic piece. Mark McQ (the designer) made a conscious decision to keep the price low so that more people can use quality tools, rather than selling it for what it's worth. For your stated use, it would be my go to compressor for the fact that there is very, very little coloration or pump.

And if it doesn't work out, I am sure you can sell it for close to what you paid for it.

Good luck.

M
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kitchener

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2006, 05:50:17 pm »

I have to agree - the FMR is a great little compressor and a FANTASTIC value. I use it on vocals going in, as described by Vertigo, as well as on bass DI, acoustic gtr, etc. Plus, it's stereo, so if you want to strap it across a buss in "supernice" mode, you can...
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jake smith

compasspnt

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2006, 06:18:12 pm »


Actually I know someone who has put an RNC across his home entertainment system outputs, just for that purpose!
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blueboy

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2006, 09:48:00 pm »

People are going to start thinking that I am an audio snob (which I'm not), but I just picked the RNC up and unfortunately it's not going to work for me.

I really wanted to like the RNC as I felt that it would lessen the DSP used on critical tracks like vocals and leave them a little more natural sounding.

While I like the basic sound of the compression this unit offers, the problem is that it seems to filter most of the harmonic richness that I paid for recently with my Rode K2 and GT Brick. It's not bad sounding by any means, but it doesn't preserve the qualities I'm listening for in comparison to using a good quality plugin (or several plugins) after tracking.

My engineering skills probably don't deserve better at this point, but if I can't get my mixes to sound the way I want yet,  I want to at least make sure that I have the best quality source tracks to work with until I improve.

I'm really bummed about this.

I hate to ask, but what is the next step up in quality in compressors that will take me to an equivalent level that the GT Brick is at (i.e. no fancy features, just good "harmonically rich" sound at a reasonable price)?

Thanks again for all the input, I appreciate it, but I guess my personal expectations were too expensive for my budget.

JL

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compasspnt

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2006, 11:28:58 pm »


To be brutally honest, of the units that I know well, you can only get what you seek amongst the EAR 660 , Manley Vari-Mu, Lucas, Pendulum ES8, or a vintage UA 176.  Probably the Fearn and Thermionic will do it, but I don't know them as well.

For any of these, you will pay more than $200.

That's my opinion, based on what I perceive that you want.
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blueboy

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2006, 02:07:27 pm »

Thanks for the reply Terry (and the unfortunately brutal honesty).

I don't want to give the impression that I was expecting the level of performance of the units you mentioned from a $200 piece of gear.

As I'm not familiar with the sound of all the models, I can't say at what level I'd be satisfied with, but you are most likely right in terms of perceiving the quality level that I would ultimately prefer (given unlimited funding of course). That's why I was afraid to ask!

I was thinking that a lot of the high dollar models were sought after primarily for their "character", and not necessarily their ability to preserve the original signal. While I would love to have a palette of colours to choose from, I would be happy with a basic uncoloured compressor that retains all the harmonic content of the original signal. What I'm hearing with the RNC is  kind of like going from brand new strings to month old strings the instant that I switch it in (even without any compression). I'm not knocking the unit at all as I think it is a great little compressor, but the qualities that are important to me personally are lacking.

I'm probably a little more hypersensitive about what I'm hearing as well. I have never had any problems with my hearing in the past and had always been very aware protecting my ears when playing in bands. But a while back I had a totally unexpected "headphone accident" that left me with incredibly loud tinnitus for over 4 months. I thought I was going to go insane as it was so loud that it affected my ability to sleep. Fortunately the tinnitus has subsided (except when I am under stress), but I now have 1000 times the appreciation for my hearing. I do have some very minor high frequency loss, but I am not sure if it was caused by my "near deaf" experience, or from previously playing in bands, or even if it is age related. All I know is that I am going to enjoy every last second of my hearing for the rest of my life, and that I am extremely grateful to still have relatively good hearing. The whole experience has definitely "opened my ears".

Anyway, I'm sure there are lots of mics that are better than the K2, and many higher quality preamps than the Brick, but they sound pretty good together to me, and they are reasonably priced. I was hoping for an equivalent price/performance ratio in a compressor. Realistically, I would want to spend less than a grand. If I fell in love with something, I might push it out to $1500, but I can't justify higher than that without some expectation of return on investment (of which there is none).

If I can't find any reasonably priced hardware that works for me, maybe I will break down and get the UAD-1 as their compressors seem to be considered the best overall in terms of software options.

Again, thanks for your input. This forum is always a great learning experience.

JL



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hargerst

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2006, 05:44:53 pm »

blueboy wrote on Sat, 17 June 2006 13:07

What I'm hearing with the RNC is  kind of like going from brand new strings to month old strings the instant that I switch it in (even without any compression).

Then there's something wrong with that RNC or your setup; even with 6 dB of compression, the RNC should be flat out to about 200 KHz.
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Vertigo

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2006, 06:14:54 pm »

Quote:

 the problem is that it seems to filter most of the harmonic richness that I paid for recently with my Rode K2 and GT Brick


That doesn't sound like any RNC that I've ever used. Granted, it's not the best on every source, but it's not a unit that's known to make a source sound bad or detract from the original content of the signal. Could this possibly be an impedence issue due to the RNC's unbalanced operation?

-Lance
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blueboy

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2006, 08:55:02 pm »

I'm still playing around with it and I haven't ruled out user error or a defective unit, but everything appears to be setup and working correctly.

The Brick has a transformer balanced out and I am using the proper XLR Female to Unbalanced 1/4" Male cable with PIN-2 to TIP, PINs 3 and 1 to SLEEVE (ground) as recommended by FMR. I had wired my own originally, but purchased a premade one recently and have been using that. The RNC unbalanced output goes directly to my converters/software mixer/powered monitors or headphones.

The A/B comparison I'm doing is with the bypass function on the RNC itself. With bypass in, the signal is fine. As soon as I switch the bypass function off (even without compression) the richness that I listen for disappears. It doesn't sound "bad" or that the frequency response has changed dramatically, it's just that the "chime-y" quality of my acoustic guitar, or the immediacy of a breathy vocal for example is dulled slightly. I'm assuming that if there were a problem with the way that I have it hooked up, it would sound wrong even when the bypass function is engaged, but that's not the case. Does it sound like there is anything wrong with the way I am hooking things up?

As I said, I may just be hypersensitive to this, or it may just be my inexperience in using hardware compressors combined with unrealistic expectations. I have been used to capturing the audio raw and then using software compression, and that has retained the signal quality I'm looking for. I've never been totally happy with compressor plugins though, and I find that I have to use several of them in series with only a small amount of compression on each in order to get close to what I want.

Anyone reading this should definitely not put my opinion on the same level as any of the experienced engineers around here (or even consider it at all), as I don't consider myself to be one. While I think that I have a pretty good ear, it doesn't mean that I know what I doing, or even that I could take advantage of the quality that I'm looking for by mixing the recorded audio properly. I'm still learning.

As with anything, people need to listen for themselves, and heed the advice of the pros.

Somehow I have a feeling that I would be very happy with the EAR660 though....just no longer married...

JL

(I'm not an engineer, I just play one on the internet!)





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maxim

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2006, 09:10:05 pm »

"I would be very happy with the EAR660 though....just no longer married..."

it will keep you warm at night (especially, if you leave it on)

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xonlocust

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2006, 01:04:33 pm »

blueboy - i've noticed the same thing with my RNCs, i've thought it was sort of like putting piece of gauze over the signal.  they still definitely get use, but aren't always my first choice.  

of the stuff i've used and like that you might look into:

- dbx 160x (probably in your budget)
- valley dynamite (probably in your budget)
- urei LA-4 (a little more)
- manley elop (probably too expensive)

they all have thier own character, but i don't find any of them putting the "gauze" i feel w/the RNC.

theo mack

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Re: FMR Really Nice Compressor
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2006, 02:18:46 am »

xonlocust wrote on Tue, 20 June 2006 10:04

blueboy - i've noticed the same thing with my RNCs, i've thought it was sort of like putting piece of gauze over the signal.  they still definitely get use, but aren't always my first choice.  

of the stuff i've used and like that you might look into:

- dbx 160x (probably in your budget)
- valley dynamite (probably in your budget)
- urei LA-4 (a little more)
- manley elop (probably too expensive)

they all have thier own character, but i don't find any of them putting the "gauze" i feel w/the RNC.




Blueboy,
Here's my .02 take it or leave it.
From your own posts it appears (forgive me if I'm wrong) that you are a relative novice at this art vs. science thing we call recording.

With that in mind, you do appear to have a natural ear. and have made some decisions you are happy with as far as your recording chain goes.

Here's the thing:
The RNC is inexpensive and arguably the best value out there as far as quality vs price + functionality.

It has a couple drawbacks for the relatively new engineer:

1, the unbalanced / balanced connection thing.
If you mess this up you will immiediatly get a weak signal and be unhappy. It seems like you have this sorted.

2, Too much control for a novice.
The power of this comp is the high degree of control you have with attack and release. The RNC has the possibility of really fast attack and Rel control. More than most comps out there. If you have these controls set too fast you will certainly get a undesirable sound. even in super nice mode.

It's unfortunate that the few bad reviews out there for the rnc (seem to me) are related to these two issues. Search bass RNC threads.

Even the big time producers and engineers out there use a much simpler comp for tracking.
Such as: LA-2a LA-3a for tracking. Both being no attack / release control. Just look for a few db of GR and let it go.
Or, if they use a 1176 or disstressor it is with slower at/ rel times for tracking. Or for the cool pump you get with faster settings.

Anyway, Bottom line. Keep your RNC and if you can afford it get a reissue LA3a or a LA2a for tracking. It's really hard to fuck it up with those.

Regarding the quote:
160x Yeah maybe, but still too fast.
Dynamite, too much color and hard to control (no threshold control)
LA4, yes go for it, Make sure its in good shape and terminated right.
Manley elop, If you can afford it Yes.
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theo mack
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