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JLM audio LA500A vs CAPI FC526 vs Retro 500 vs Xpressor - Gearspace.com
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JLM audio LA500A vs CAPI FC526 vs Retro 500 vs Xpressor
Old 14th July 2015
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
JLM audio LA500A vs CAPI FC526 vs Retro 500 vs Xpressor

I have 2 slots free on my 500 lunchbox, I have a Neve 517, 2x ClassicAPI V28 and modified Lindell PEX500.
I am interested at
2xJLM LA500A (opto) or
2xClassicAPI FC526 (Fet) or
Elysia Xpressor (VCA) or
mono Retro doublewide (variMu).
I'd like your take on this?

PLease I don't really want to discuss any other gears at this point.
Baring in mind I have a legendary ADR compex mono,
a FMR RNC sandwiched in a nice Neumann W444 stereo active fader. ( that way it is a sweet balanced stereo VCA comp/lim
a Art Levelar opto completely redesigned and sandwiched also in a mono Tab fader. ( great on bass. )

So I need versatile ..or I like to get my first VariMu.
I am interested to get the LA500A diy kit especially with the slow attack feature and stereo link.

Ultimately if I am reasonable I need something I can track, use in and out of the box and possibly pre - mastering.
I hear the Xpressor is perfect and a true chameleon for all that.
I do like the LA500A simplicity though and I like the fact that I can use it for everything too. and at times combine with my ADR Compex (Fet)
over to you..
Attached Thumbnails
JLM audio LA500A vs CAPI FC526 vs Retro 500 vs Xpressor-500-compressor-choice.jpg  
Old 14th July 2015
  #2
Deleted 1846071
Guest
I would rather have opto and FET than stereo pair.
Old 14th July 2015
  #3
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8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I'd like to try a Retro Doublewide. I have some other Retro and CAPI gear and I've used an Xpressor. I suppose out of those 4 I'd choose the Retro.

But for your needs Id pick the Xpressor. It can do a lot. Use it during tracking, mixing and definitely mastering to just clean up the levels a tad. It's a great unit.
Old 15th July 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I had the Retro, didn't like it, sold it
I have the Xpressor and i love it, if you want versatile the Xpressor is king,
no doubt. And it sounds and feel great.
Old 15th July 2015
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks for your input so far
Anyone with the LA500 (A) to comment?
I can't help thinking that
with the way we work mostly in the box these days,
simple, gentle and magic opto touch is more useful Perhaps I am wrong.
Also I won't get LA2A with the JLM LA500A lets be clear I know that.

I forgot to mention I also have a CALI 76 in my guitar pedal board that I can use it balanced line level with again some Neumann W444 active faders and impedance converter.
it makes a wonderful limiter.
I mention that because I used to have a opto demeter compulator that I modified. The biggest regret was to sell it!!! Best guitar compressor ever!! the Cali76 fet is great don't get me wrong but there is a lot to say about well designed opto system.

Also my RNC balanced is a distant reminice of GSSL..
So I get that Xpressor is probably a different VCA beast entirely.
Still I need convincing!
Old 15th July 2015 | Show parent
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 1846071 ➑️
I would rather have opto and FET than stereo pair.
I have a ADR compex Fet and a cali76 fet for that..
So I am focusing on stereo pair and probably opto.. although I can't make up my mind.

I also look and at 6 units lunchbox as a portable travelling toolbox.
Therefore you might be right here especially if I also consider polishing some work in M/S coded signal.
Old 15th July 2015
  #7
Gear Guru
 
SWAN808's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I found the Xpressor a bit boring but YMMV
Old 15th July 2015
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
mus1k_freak's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm about to order a la500. For the price (if you diy) its a no brainer
Old 15th July 2015
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Jlm...you will not be disappointed!
Old 18th July 2015
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Marti, I've got the JLM LA500 and 3 Doublewides … I was impressed enough with the quality of the LA500 that I later bought his EQ. Action through the LA500 is easy to steer right to where I want it to be, from inaudible compression to very hyped. It's fast. Meter and switches are all quite nice. I would buy another. DW I tend to use in the 'Double' setting and not fiddle with much more than In/Out levels. Sweet, clean, large sounding with a touch of crisp over T and S consonants in vocals thanx to the xfrmr.
Old 18th July 2015
  #11
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10 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
JLM gear is way to cheap for people to believe how good it is. I can add the LA500 is dead easy to set up tracking, is not too hard to build (if you go DIY) and Joe Malone has a proven history of first class service.
Old 18th July 2015 | Show parent
  #12
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by frans ➑️
JLM gear is way to cheap for people to believe how good it is. I can add the LA500 is dead easy to set up tracking, is not too hard to build (if you go DIY) and Joe Malone has a proven history of first class service.
I know JLM stuff. I make my own equipment so DIY is just fine. I even Had the OPTO parts years ago but I messed it up. I was trying to experiment with making a different opto model character and also a way to turn it into a gate!!
Anyways..
THe only thing is Joe's PCB are a real pain in the Neck. I think JLM is fairly priced knowing well what is under the hood but no bargain! In compare to Classic API Diy stuff. MY word Jeff Steiger stuff is the best AUDIO DIY IN THE WORLD.
I have a pair of V28.. it is really thought through. When finish it is really PRO and it sounds amazing and it is quality price. I see where he cut corners but it is still great.
JLM is a little on the cheap side of things but equally though it sounds great.
Old 18th July 2015
  #13
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
If am not misunderstanding JLM opto is just Joe's own idea of opto with a chip, sandwiched in a electronic balanced input chip again!!! and a DOA recovery amp finished with an output transformer.
I think the input could have been better by using a nice spec transformer!!

Still, it delivers well.. I know.
Old 18th July 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
@ martiaudio it sounds like you have a merritless problem with jlm
Old 18th July 2015 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Karloff ➑️
@ martiaudio it sounds like you have a merritless problem with jlm
no no,
i've made extraordinary equipment for myself,
I also made few diy such as Classic API, wonderful finish and a pleasure to make
the best 1073 Neve clone a kit from AML in Manchester UK really great stuff
and bit from JLM and as kit and bill list for the money very well over rated.
it is brutal but true.

However this isn't about electronic audio and diy topic, it is about sound.
and JLM audio somehow delivers but they do cut corners though.
Old 18th July 2015
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
So every manufacturer who doesnΒ΄t use input transformers does cut corners? SSL, GML, Crane Song, etc all cut corners? Come on,....
Old 18th July 2015 | Show parent
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jensenmann ➑️
So every manufacturer who doesnΒ΄t use input transformers does cut corners? SSL, GML, Crane Song, etc all cut corners? Come on,....
ok ok..
when it comes to audio electronic, chips aren't welcomed to me.
only passive inductive/transformers, discrete Opamps and tubes rule.
unless simple chips are properly used:
ssl, Raindirk, Glensound, Calrec, even Neve.

But when it can be better done or avoided: to me it isn't a good idea to use it.
Although there are really really good opamps chips theses days.
looks like I've opened a can or worm. Apologise.

a decent processor should be balanced with transformers that is it.
and it is not to be snob or get a vintage sound necessarily.
a good example is Neve portico .. Man it is so clean. it shocked me the first time.
I tested my 517 preamp against v28, chip/sowter iso Raindirk, Quadeight, AML 1073,
and I couldn't believe how clean the 517 was. It made the over preamps dark slow and strange for a second.
but I digress.

Last edited by martiaudio; 18th July 2015 at 11:55 PM..
Old 19th July 2015 | Show parent
  #18
Jtt
Gear Addict
 
Jtt's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by martiaudio ➑️
If am not misunderstanding JLM opto is just Joe's own idea of opto with a chip, sandwiched in a electronic balanced input chip again!!! and a DOA recovery amp finished with an output transformer.
I think the input could have been better by using a nice spec transformer!!

Still, it delivers well.. I know.
The opto-coupler is not a chip -- it's just a good old fashioned resin covered led and light detector. The DOA is nice, and the output transformer is a good one. It's a very simple circuit and an easy build. The value for all that, especially with the favorable U.S. exchange rate is unequaled. I don't see any cut corners on JLM or CAPI gear. The completed builds compare favorably in quality and sound to anything else in the sub 1k range.
Old 19th July 2015
  #19
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
another vote for the xpressor...clean, dirty, parallel, warm...it can do many things well...since you are a gearslut, I can assure you, you can never have too many, but if you start with the xpressor, you can take your time filling in the gaps...
Old 19th July 2015 | Show parent
  #20
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jtt ➑️
The opto-coupler is not a chip -- it's just a good old fashioned resin covered led and light detector. The DOA is nice, and the output transformer is a good one. It's a very simple circuit and an easy build. The value for all that, especially with the favorable U.S. exchange rate is unequaled. I don't see any cut corners on JLM or CAPI gear. The completed builds compare favorably in quality and sound to anything else in the sub 1k range.
trust me i know what an opto coupler is.
despite simplicity, there are 4x or 2dual opamps on this LA500 and one discrete one.
but enough of that..

just a philosophical point:
Perhaps I am really demanding because I built discrete/valve or did built esoteric equipment but chooses to make music now. I find any audio processor of legend well well over priced. As a maker I am biased.
Still It is as if Professional studio equipment historically had to be expensive, exclusive and unaffordable.
Yet Anything built with valves for instance is simple, it just has to be done properly, hand wired and executed with patience in a making like a wooden instrument.
But we can find seriously good guitars or basses without braking budget these days. thanks to new techniques of work and a will to put musical instruments in young people's hands instead of video games.
it is about time that this happens in order to produce music properly and in a team studio environment.
Equipment don't have to be expensive just because of a Name or vintage technology. anything Vari Mu is always super pricey. Why ???

the whole conversation shifted when i get comments that JLM audio is bargain, great and so and so..
in construction I say it is fair compare to ClassicAPI or AML 1073 kit that I consider to be superb diy options and bargain.

Now the conversation is about sound and JLM audio does deliver I dare say somehow. It might just be the ticket for me.

I have a cheap ART levelar little unit that I've completely modified also using hand selected vacuum tube, only used unbalanced and re-balanced in a neumann Active fader.
I can tell you this opto is absolutely amazing. I like to take it in a big studio and test it next to a LA2A one day!!
Really beautiful! That is the sort of level I expect of LA500A if I am gonna go with that one.

Last edited by martiaudio; 19th July 2015 at 11:30 AM..
Old 19th July 2015
  #21
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Anyone used the New LA500A with slow attack yet?
Old 19th July 2015 | Show parent
  #22
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dovin2 ➑️
another vote for the xpressor...clean, dirty, parallel, warm...it can do many things well...since you are a gearslut, I can assure you, you can never have too many, but if you start with the xpressor, you can take your time filling in the gaps...
Overall would you say this unit does everything but lacks a little character?
Or is it that good that it can be anything you want it to be?
How difficult is it to dial and find what you want out of it?

I am not lazy but I find simple stuff easier to implement.
Old 19th July 2015
  #23
Deleted 1846071
Guest
The schematics for many classic audio circuits are available online. As an experienced and skilled builder looking for the best bang for buck -- why don't you just build your own gear?
Old 19th July 2015 | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 1846071 ➑️
The schematics for many classic audio circuits are available online. As an experienced and skilled builder looking for the best bang for buck -- why don't you just build your own gear?
Sir I have done enough of that. Right now the spec is completing a 6 units 500 lunchbox with a pair of compressors!
Old 20th July 2015 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by martiaudio ➑️
Overall would you say this unit does everything but lacks a little character?
Or is it that good that it can be anything you want it to be?
How difficult is it to dial and find what you want out of it?

I am not lazy but I find simple stuff easier to implement.
i"d say it does everything and you can dial in character. you can mix in wet/dry, you can push it...you can add warmth (literally with the touch of a button). I, too, looked at multiple other options (Serpent, Dramastic Obsidian, Smart C1LA, IGS, AML 54F50, Shadow Hills, Alta Moda Hippo, Crane Song) and for flexibilty, quality and price, I chose the xpressor and I am happy with my results. I still want my AML, though
Old 20th July 2015 | Show parent
  #26
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dovin2 ➑️
i"d say it does everything and you can dial in character. you can mix in wet/dry, you can push it...you can add warmth (literally with the touch of a button). I, too, looked at multiple other options (Serpent, Dramastic Obsidian, Smart C1LA, IGS, AML 54F50, Shadow Hills, Alta Moda Hippo, Crane Song) and for flexibilty, quality and price, I chose the xpressor and I am happy with my results. I still want my AML, though
I bet you do.. Thank you very much indeed for the insight.
I norrow down to Xpressor vs LA500A and I'll decide when I come back from Holiday.
Have a nice summer Everyone.
Old 23rd July 2015 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by martiaudio ➑️
I know JLM stuff. I make my own equipment so DIY is just fine. I even Had the OPTO parts years ago but I messed it up. I was trying to experiment with making a different opto model character and also a way to turn it into a gate!!
Anyways..
THe only thing is Joe's PCB are a real pain in the Neck. I think JLM is fairly priced knowing well what is under the hood but no bargain! In compare to Classic API Diy stuff. MY word Jeff Steiger stuff is the best AUDIO DIY IN THE WORLD.
I have a pair of V28.. it is really thought through. When finish it is really PRO and it sounds amazing and it is quality price. I see where he cut corners but it is still great.
JLM is a little on the cheap side of things but equally though it sounds great.
It's not really clear what you're trying to say here. JLM uses equally good components as the CAPI gear. Personally I'm really fond of the sound of Joe's transformers.

Price wise. The JLM 500 series kits are cheaper to buy than the CAPI ones. I'd choose the CAPI mic pres over the JLM ones. But when it comes to compressors JLM is king by far. Both the opto and fet compressors are outstanding
Old 4th August 2015
  #28
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
First Choice: Elysia Xpressor (VCA)
2nd: 2xClassicAPI FC526 (Fet)
Third: 2xJLM LA500A (opto)
Wouldn't even buy if I had the space: mono Retro doublewide (variMu)
Old 4th August 2015 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by martiaudio ➑️
Anyone used the New LA500A with slow attack yet?
I mod'ed both of my LA500s with the slow attack option. Much more useful on percussion now. Great on kicks and low tuned snares.
Old 5th August 2015 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dovin2 ➑️
First Choice: Elysia Xpressor (VCA)
2nd: 2xClassicAPI FC526 (Fet)
Third: 2xJLM LA500A (opto)
Wouldn't even buy if I had the space: mono Retro doublewide (variMu)
And your choice is based on what?
πŸ“ Reply

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