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best compressor to add life to dead, flat mix
Old 18th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
best compressor to add life to dead, flat mix

Keeping it clean and clear, what is the best compressor, not for adding an effect, but for making a dead, flat mix come alive?
Old 18th September 2012
  #2
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Magucci's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Rockruepel comp.one
Old 18th September 2012
  #3
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bcgood's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
No compressor at all. Just good musicians in a good room, with good mics and preamps and a good engineer.
Old 18th September 2012
  #4
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Larry Villella's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I agree with BC Good.

Many compressors actually wash-out the high-end.

A dead sounding recording won't sound better, probably worse!

If you have no other way to re-do the mix, some folks might
recommend an Aural Exciter. For me, the idea of adding back mids
and upper mids if they're not there already, is an exercise in futility.

I'm sure others may disagree.
Old 18th September 2012
  #5
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
An SSL stereo comp will make a 2mix punchier. Slow attack, Auto release about 3 to 4 db in :-)
Old 18th September 2012
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
Keeping it clean and clear, what is the best compressor, not for adding an effect, but for making a dead, flat mix come alive?
If you can find a compressor to do that, let me know. I'd use a dynamic range expander to bring back the lifeless lack of dynamics based on your description, assuming you only have the two-track mix to work with.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #7
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➡️
Just good musicians in a good room, with good mics and preamps and a good engineer.
Agree with that, but....

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➡️
No compressor at all.
Don't agree with that at all. Occasionaly no comp is better, but occasionaly.

This is a very broad Q, and not one that can be answered with the lack of info provided.

8owmore > comps usually aren't used to make dead, flat mixes come alive. They can help, but a good mix starts with the recording process (musicians' performance, micing, etc,) and continues with mixing: setting levels properly, eq, panning, compressing individual tracks as need be, and so on. There is an old saying, "you can't shine sh it". It's true; if you have a dead, flat mix, a compressor is not going to magically bring it to life. Again, it can help, but it's not a magical cure-all.

Are you looking for a stereo bus compressor? HW, or SW? What type of music? Maybe post an audio ex. of what you have already. Very difficult to give you a good suggestion without hearing what you already have.

Cheers.
Old 18th September 2012
  #8
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LeMauce's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Trim the volume on tracks and automat the volume to bring the life and difference back in to it.

Then gentle compression with a ssl bus comp. direct or parralel. Just listen what works best.
Old 18th September 2012
  #9
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🎧 15 years
I agree with SoSueMe, try the opposite with an expander.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Villella ➡️
I agree with BC Good.

Many compressors actually wash-out the high-end.

A dead sounding recording won't sound better, probably worse!

If you have no other way to re-do the mix, some folks might
recommend an Aural Exciter. For me, the idea of adding back mids
and upper mids if they're not there already, is an exercise in futility.

I'm sure others may disagree.
Thanks to everyone who has responded. I appreciate other folks eagerness to help out. With all the varied responses, I realized I should have been way more detailed and clear about my problem and what I am trying to accomplish (ALL responses have been great, but many have not been applicable due to my vagueness in request.)
So I will try again.

This would be considered mastering or re-mastering. I am working mostly with older material. 1940’s to 2000. There are 2 problems I am trying to solve:
1) The material that was trackeded digitally (the 80’s & 90’s stuff) tends to be pancake flat in terms of depth. Brittle, nasty highs and a sharp somewhat thin tonal balance. EQ’ing can make it much less offensive, but it is still flat. I believe a good compressor would be the answer here. A while back a buddy loaned me his broadcast compressor (5 band, high dollar unit) and it helped it terms of depth & fullness.

2) The majority of the material is 40’s-70’s and is very limited in dynamic range, sometimes peaky in the presence region and significantly rolled in the highs and lows. The best way I have found so far to liven it up is to use a SPL vitalizer. I like it better than the BBE & Aphex units I have owned in the past. All of those hardware units smoke the enhancers I have heard in software.

For software what I currently use is Cubase, Ozone & Liquid Mix. The compressors & EQ’s in Liquid mix sound much better than the ones in Cubase & Ozone. Narrow band cutting in Cubase and Ozone sounds ok, but not boosting. So I use Liquid mix for most EQ’ing, surgical or otherwise. Cubase & Ozone seem very clear and transparent, but most of their plugins change the sound, they don’t really make it better. Liquid mix makes the sound better, but not much better. Compression within sane ranges accomplishes the task w/o degradation, but it does not introduce any magic, mojo, life, or ? With the software I am able to do all I need to do w/ the bass. It is mids, highs, depth and dynamics and fullness of tone that the software seems pretty weak in. I intend on doing mid/side, but doing it in software has been pretty lame so far.

I do not live in a big city or near one so my access to demoing units is pretty limited. My overall experience has been that software has been noiseless, but other than that not as good as hardware I have used. I am open to plugins that are really effective and just open minded period.

I plan on getting a high end EQ, but first things first, compressor. *** I appreciate the help. ***
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe ➡️
If you can find a compressor to do that, let me know. I'd use a dynamic range expander to bring back the lifeless lack of dynamics based on your description, assuming you only have the two-track mix to work with.
The software expanders I have tried help w/ noise, but not dynamics. They seem to work ok downward, but not upward. Is there a plugin or hardware one that works upward?
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat ➡️
Agree with that, but....



Don't agree with that at all. Occasionaly no comp is better, but occasionaly.

This is a very broad Q, and not one that can be answered with the lack of info provided.

8owmore > comps usually aren't used to make dead, flat mixes come alive. They can help, but a good mix starts with the recording process (musicians' performance, micing, etc,) and continues with mixing: setting levels properly, eq, panning, compressing individual tracks as need be, and so on. There is an old saying, "you can't shine sh it". It's true; if you have a dead, flat mix, a compressor is not going to magically bring it to life. Again, it can help, but it's not a magical cure-all.

Are you looking for a stereo bus compressor? HW, or SW? What type of music? Maybe post an audio ex. of what you have already. Very difficult to give you a good suggestion without hearing what you already have.

Cheers.
Stereo Bus Compressor: Yes.
HW / SW: Don't know. I haven't heard SW one that I really liked. That would be more convenient if it was out there.
Music: Mostly - Big Band, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Rock. Country.
Music: Never - Rap, Dance

And fortunately or unfortunately, I am trying to shine great music that was recorded like @#$%.
Old 18th September 2012
  #13
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Doc Mixwell's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
Keeping it clean and clear, what is the best compressor, not for adding an effect, but for making a dead, flat mix come alive?
"Coming Alive", could very well be described as an effect!!!!!!!!!! You'll have to further elaborate, b/c its hard to understand, exactly how you "should/could" treat this specific material. I would guess you mean bring out more rich transient material, which conflicts with my understanding of compression.

Compressors are meant to flatten, control and limit the dynamic range of a signal. In the process of molding peaks and excavating lower level detail and body, compression can surely make things more "exciting". But really, if there is nothing to grab onto, its just making "dull", sound duller for no good reason.

A dead&flat mix [to my understanding] seems like it will have no real rich dynamic and peak transient material to activate that compressor, [if its just dead and flat] and maybe looks like a "worm crawling across the screen"?..I don't know, but this kind of material, [that is already pretty "blunted" in the transients] passed through a Limiter/Compressor, ends up something like sloshing around in puddles of goop, without some yellow rubber boots. Toe Jammed and Gunktified.

First choice, to fix a dead flat mix is to remix it, so that the song has nicer enveloping/attack, and good dynamics/crest based on the motions and volume depths of the material, moving with the song. If you can no longer do that, well, I am sure handing it off to trustworthy mastering engineer is the best bet for results.

I always find compression and limiting is best done slightly, in stages. I like when the Stereo or Mastering compressor can activate skillfully to mold and even out the peak transients, when needed. Inside your mix, compression/limiting, and other techniques are used to control, and manipulate complex dynamic's, and if you are flattening it out, losing life, just back off the thresholding on your compressors, and let them grab higher peaks, rather than the average.

By the end of the day, the mix should be comfortable to listen to, across all playback mediums. So with a VERY dynamic mix, a Mastering Compressor Device, can even out the material slightly, so that the highest peaks don't jab your ears, and you are keeping a consistent volume, in which you can better appreciate the lower level details of the audio.
Old 18th September 2012
  #14
Gear Addict
 
Delphino's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'd first look into stereo position tools like airwindows Wider or the brainworx stuff, then perhaps gently add a really fine reverbs to the sides, to make an attempt at synthesizing dynamic, perhaps some modulated delay taps (verry, very subtle) at targeted freq areas. Also try the brainworx stereo tools stuff like ms eq, ms dynamics. Also ubk-1 is really nice moverizer.

Have fun!! Try take the mix apart rebuild to taste, redo, trial... Break rules. Divide by frequency since only 2track. Slate fg-x can be tried as well as dynamic enhancer.

Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️

This would be considered mastering or re-mastering.
I think you need an eq in a first place then

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
I believe a good compressor would be the answer here.
Not so sure about it - could be the common misconception that 'compression makes everything sounds better'
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
2) The majority of the material is 40’s-70’s and is very limited in dynamic range, sometimes peaky in the presence region and significantly rolled in the highs and lows. The best way I have found so far to liven it up is to use a SPL vitalizer. I like it better than the BBE & Aphex units I have owned in the past. All of those hardware units smoke the enhancers I have heard in software.
Maybe you just haven't used them properly

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
I intend on doing mid/side, but doing it in software has been pretty lame so far.
Another strange point I'd say. Actually reading your posts I get the 'standard impression' about the software and like 'it's not there yet'. While I'm a big fan of hardware units and unquestionably, there are some things hardware is capable of, that might appear as an advantage, software is up to par for your requests.

Not sure if you plan on doing mastering professionally in the future hence I understand the need of buying high end analog units, but have you considered sending those tracks to the mastering engineer?

I'm not trying to bust your balls here, just trying to put a different perspective on your problem which could help you not spending money on the things you don't necessarily need
Old 18th September 2012
  #16
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nickelironsteel's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
shadow hills for vibe from sterile to full on character into a pair of pultecs
Old 18th September 2012
  #17
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ttown23's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Well, of course you are going to get the comments like 'learn to do a better mix' and 'work with better musicians', etc.

But practically speaking, I have found that the Alan Smart C2 in 'crush' mode does this quite nicely. You will need to dial back the high-mids around 2-3K and 3-4K a tad, and restore some of the low end around 200Hz (I use a GML 8200 for this purpose), but this configuration should do the trick for you!
Old 18th September 2012
  #18
Gear Nut
 
Joekkel's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I don't agree that a compresser can only flatten out mixes on the 2bus. It is meant to do that, indeed. But i like to use compressors as transient-shapers: slow attack mid to fast release. Let's the transients pass, this gives you a punchier/snappier sound. Won't deliver you any good results, if the depth is missing in the stereo- and frequency-domain. But dynamics...well try it.
Old 18th September 2012
  #19
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jordanvoth's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
A remix, in the event that it doesn't work, retrack, in the event that doesn't work, rewrite.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #20
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tekis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Just remix it

Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanvoth ➡️
A remix, in the event that it doesn't work, retrack, in the event that doesn't work, rewrite.
Re-balance it. You've got nothing to lose by taking a new look at it. I've rarely found that any singualr device will make or break me. It's the wizard, not the wand.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #21
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jordanvoth's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tekis ➡️
Re-balance it. You've got nothing to lose by taking a new look at it. I've rarely found that any singualr device will make or break me. It's the wizard, not the wand.
+1 and everything effects everything so get it all right and your mix will be a lot easier.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #22
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delphino ➡️
I'd first look into stereo position tools like airwindows Wider or the brainworx stuff, then perhaps gently add a really fine reverbs to the sides, to make an attempt at synthesizing dynamic, perhaps some modulated delay taps (verry, very subtle) at targeted freq areas. Also try the brainworx stereo tools stuff like ms eq, ms dynamics. Also ubk-1 is really nice moverizer.

Have fun!! Try take the mix apart rebuild to taste, redo, trial... Break rules. Divide by frequency since only 2track. Slate fg-x can be tried as well as dynamic enhancer.

I am quickly realizing I need to do a lot more homework. Investigating what you suggested showed me there is a lot more out there than I found hitting mixonline, sos, and a bunch of retailers. The ubk-1 dirty drums video was a good example of the direction I want to head. But this would be working w/ stereo material, not individual tracks. Thanks, Delphino.
Old 18th September 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
Keeping it clean and clear, what is the best compressor, not for adding an effect, but for making a dead, flat mix come alive?
Download the demo of the Flux Alchemist plug-in. It does multi-band compression, de-compression, expansion and de-expansion. It can also do multi-band transient shaping which certainly can add some "life" to a flat sounding mix. A true magic wand in terms of audio processing and a one-of-kind plug-in.

Here's my review of Flux Alchemist in Sound On Sound:

Flux Alchemist

It's not cheap and it takes some time getting used to, but if you rub it the right way...magic can happen...


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Everbeatz ➡️
I think you need an eq in a first place then


Not so sure about it - could be the common misconception that 'compression makes everything sounds better'

Maybe you just haven't used them properly


Another strange point I'd say. Actually reading your posts I get the 'standard impression' about the software and like 'it's not there yet'. While I'm a big fan of hardware units and unquestionably, there are some things hardware is capable of, that might appear as an advantage, software is up to par for your requests.

Not sure if you plan on doing mastering professionally in the future hence I understand the need of buying high end analog units, but have you considered sending those tracks to the mastering engineer?

I'm not trying to bust your balls here, just trying to put a different perspective on your problem which could help you not spending money on the things you don't necessarily need
Thanks Everbeatz. This was helpful. I am realizing I have to do a lot more homework on plugins. Upon reading a lot of the responses from different folk I am realizing I was pretty anti-plugin on based on how some peers had used them. I didn't like the software enhancers I had heard because the mixes I heard with exciter plugins had used way too much. The highs could drill a hole in your head. I guess that was to cut through the the overbearing, ponderous bass. I am getting now why so many threads specifically compare 2 products and were not as vague as my question.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #25
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy ➡️
Download the demo of the Flux Alchemist plug-in. It does multi-band compression, de-compression, expansion and de-expansion. It can also do multi-band transient shaping which certainly can add some "life" to a flat sounding mix. A true magic wand in terms of audio processing and a one-of-kind plug-in.

Here's my review of Flux Alchemist in Sound On Sound:

Flux Alchemist

It's not cheap and it takes some time getting used to, but if you rub it the right way...magic can happen...


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
After seeing all the responses, I think I was speaking a different language to each person that responded. Fred, I believe you were able to see what I was getting at. After reading up on Alchemist, its capabilities definitely are a lot of what I am after. Thanks.
Old 18th September 2012
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This one will put the wind up yer stale mix:






Attached Thumbnails
best compressor to add life to dead, flat mix-compressor.jpg  
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #27
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ttown23's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 ➡️
This one will put the wind up yer stale mix:






Hahaha gives a whole new meaning to adding 'air' to a mix!
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8owmore ➡️
After seeing all the responses, I think I was speaking a different language to each person that responded. Fred, I believe you were able to see what I was getting at. After reading up on Alchemist, its capabilities definitely are a lot of what I am after. Thanks.
No problemo. Glad to be of help.

Download the demo and listen if it works well with your material. Give it time because it's a very advanced plug-in. Experiment with one feature at a time.

Another plug-in that comes to mind for fixing frequency build-ups like honky/s***** mid-range or boomy low-end is the Sonnox SuprEsser. One of the absolutely best dynamic EQ's around. Bit-transparent when it's not processing and the adaptive Threshold makes it much more musical than other multi-band processors. The Hysteresis parameter in Flux Alchemist can also make the Threshold more adaptive and less static, but it's much easier to setup in SuprEsser.

So if your old recordings got honky mid-range, SuprEsser will save the day.

Sonnox Oxford Plugins

On the other hand, if you need to add mid-range and treble the Noveltech Character plug-in and even better the Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (currently only available for Powercore) can really add rich harmonics without sounding harsh och digital. Truly amazing plug-ins.

http://www.noveltechaudio.com/www/pr...vocal_enhancer

If you need noise reduction, do try the Izotope RX2 software. It can even do Azimuth Alignment for tape restoration. In many ways a software in a league of its own.

iZotope RX - Complete Audio Restoration: Declipping, Declicker, Hum Removal, Denoiser, Spectral Repair, Restore, Remaster, Download


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 18th September 2012
  #29
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unsung's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My first approach to a flat mix would first be to run it through a UBK Clariphonic to try and restore detail and what ever life is left ,then ,maybe,a softish comp (Nail or Tube-Tech-ish) to and some fullness. Or the other way round.

I think the Flux idea is good as well-----though I stared at the demo way too long scratching my head and looking stupid--Angel's share?----presets were great though.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy ➡️
Download the demo of the Flux Alchemist plug-in. It does multi-band compression, de-compression, expansion and de-expansion. It can also do multi-band transient shaping which certainly can add some "life" to a flat sounding mix. A true magic wand in terms of audio processing and a one-of-kind plug-in.

Here's my review of Flux Alchemist in Sound On Sound:

Flux Alchemist

It's not cheap and it takes some time getting used to, but if you rub it the right way...magic can happen...


Cheers
Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
I'll have to check this out. My first question would be, does it have separate threshold controls for downward and upward expansion? Or, is it a single threshold that expands upward progressively and downward progressively at the threshold setting?

I ask because I used to be a big fan of the dbx 4BX hardware unit when listening to vinyl. This unit had the single threshold setting as explained above, as well as a high-band threshold setting. In addition, it had an "impact restoration" function that worked only on peaks that fell within a particular shape. I always wondered how that unit would fair on some modern over-compressed/limited CDs.
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