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Any audio interface with built-in ANALOG compressor?
Old 28th February 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Any audio interface with built-in ANALOG compressor?

Hi there!

I'm a mix engineer/producer. These days I need a portable but professional setup. Usually I use separate audio interface, vocal preamp and compressor. But now I want more portability, is there any Pro audio interface with real analog compression on-board? I want compression to happen before analog to digital conversion, but it the same box. If you have an idea, let me know ) I've checked lots of audio interfaces but most of them have digital compression which happens after A-D conversion.

Thanks!
Old 28th February 2014
  #2
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cavern's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
None that i know of.
Old 28th February 2014
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Maybe you could use an Aphex USB 500 rack as your interface, and get a preamp and compressor module? I'm pretty sure you can route the modules in series...

Besides that, I can't think of anything that would fit your criteria. Maybe you could go with a very minimal interface and channel strip with A/D but that's still two boxes. A small portable rack seems like a pretty appealing mobile solution though to me. The gator stuff or similar...
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #4
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romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pscorbett ➡️
Maybe you could use an Aphex USB 500 rack as your interface, and get a preamp and compressor module? I'm pretty sure you can route the modules in series...

Besides that, I can't think of anything that would fit your criteria. Maybe you could go with a very minimal interface and channel strip with A/D but that's still two boxes. A small portable rack seems like a pretty appealing mobile solution though to me. The gator stuff or similar...
Thanks! Looks interesting. didn't find direct monitoring yet, I'll check details in manual
Old 28th February 2014
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Elof's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes, there is.
Sound Devices USB pre 2.

USBPre 2 Microphone Interface for Computer Audio | Sound Devices, LLC

Great pres, great conversion. The limiter (analog, before AD) is high ratio and fast, so you wont get any smooth "just a little on the way in compression".
You´ll get kind of an 1176 20-ish ratio thing.
But, I have tracked vocals thru it, and it definitely works, if you don´t over do it and want just a little peak taming when the belting comes...
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #6
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romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elof ➡️
Yes, there is.
Sound Devices USB pre 2.

USBPre 2 Microphone Interface for Computer Audio | Sound Devices, LLC

Great pres, great conversion. The limiter (analog, before AD) is high ratio and fast, so you wont get any smooth "just a little on the way in compression".
You´ll get kind of an 1176 20-ish ratio thing.
But, I have tracked vocals thru it, and it definitely works, if you don´t over do it and want just a little peak taming when the belting comes...
Thanks a lot! Very interesting!
External DI for guitar recording will be the only box I need (didn't find Hi-Z here)
Old 28th February 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I'll add Soft Limit, which has been available in Apogee converters and interfaces since the early 90's. ONE, Duet, and Quartet all have it.
What is Soft Limit?
Old 28th February 2014
  #8
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SWAN808's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
this converter has compressors and conversion built in...you can hook it up to an interface...

4-710d Four-Channel Tone-Blending Mic Preamplifier & A/D Converter w/ Dynamics | Universal Audio

edit just realised you need portable! maybe the 710 not quite right...

Also yeah teh new aphex stuff has simple compressors on...

http://www.aphex.com/products/in2/
Old 28th February 2014
  #9
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by romanstyx ➡️
I need a portable but professional setup... I want compression to happen before analog to digital conversion, but in the same box.
It's a shame you can't 'roll your own' interface of doom with 500-series modules in a single lunchbox (i.e. still technically a one-box solution), but as far as I know there is a surprising paucity of A-D-A converters and Firewire/Thunderbolt/USB modules that would enable you to do this.

Meantime, not a one-box solution I know, but just in case your perspective shifts a bit and you feel the quality of analog compression you want simply isn't available in one unit, I'll just give you a heads-up that the Metric Halo ULN-2 is one of the few interfaces with awesome preamps and a fully balanced stereo 1/4" Send/Return loop that is pre A-D conversion.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 ➡️
this converter has compressors and conversion built in...you can hook it up to an interface...

4-710d Four-Channel Tone-Blending Mic Preamplifier & A/D Converter w/ Dynamics | Universal Audio

edit just realised you need portable! maybe the 710 not quite right...

Also yeah teh new aphex stuff has simple compressors on...

IN 2 | Aphex Electronics
Thanks!
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonSpacht ➡️
I'll add Soft Limit, which has been available in Apogee converters and interfaces since the early 90's. ONE, Duet, and Quartet all have it.
What is Soft Limit?
Thanks! I was apogee duet 1 user, I know "Soft Limit" sounds really nice, I'm just looking for compression in it's classic meaning, not just peaks limiting. In studio I use MEC-1A, at home TL Audio Ivory 5050. Now I want to buy some really portable traveling solution, sure it will not sound as MEC-1A, but if it'll sound at least like Ivory 5050, it would be cool. Anyway I have to carry Genelecs, keyboard, hdds, compurer, mic, guitar ))) It's getting really heavy ))) So I still hope to find something not bigger than 1U rack.
Old 28th February 2014
  #12
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Compression is such a huge subject, with many possible choices that are all equally valid and amount to aesthetic taste decisions. I personally think it would be a sad mistake to purchase an audio interface with analog compression built in. It is simply not necessary for quality tracking. I think it is old school thinking, dating back to the days of tape where the recording medium had a very limited dynamic range. Digital has far more range than analog audio, and therefore you can track safely with all transient detail preserved simply by setting your gain structure carefully. Compression actually makes tracking without clipping waay more difficult - because there is always an Attack period where transients are NOT suppressed, and the nature of make up gain actually boost the risk of clipping in that portion. So if you are thinking of compression for that reason, that is the wrong reason.

That means the only reason to use compression when tracking is IF you love particular sound of a particular compressor. Software compression is freaking awesome these days - and has the huge advantage of lookahead on pre-recorded tracks, so there has to be a very compelling reason to commit to analog compression really. (Regardless of what the gear pimps might suggest).

My recommendation is to purchase your compressor based on the sound you are seeking, if you actually need one at all. And purchase your audio interface on the quality of sound (or *lack* of defects or annoying omissions or features).

Having said that - the UA stuff is probably awesome.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi ➡️
Compression is such a huge subject, with many possible choices that are all equally valid and amount to aesthetic taste decisions. I personally think it would be a sad mistake to purchase an audio interface with analog compression built in. It is simply not necessary for quality tracking. I think it is old school thinking, dating back to the days of tape where the recording medium had a very limited dynamic range. Digital has far more range than analog audio, and therefore you can track safely with all transient detail preserved simply by setting your gain structure carefully. Compression actually makes tracking without clipping waay more difficult - because there is always an Attack period where transients are NOT suppressed, and the nature of make up gain actually boost the risk of clipping in that portion. So if you are thinking of compression for that reason, that is the wrong reason.

That means the only reason to use compression when tracking is IF you love particular sound of a particular compressor. Software compression is freaking awesome these days - and has the huge advantage of lookahead on pre-recorded tracks, so there has to be a very compelling reason to commit to analog compression really. (Regardless of what the gear pimps might suggest).

My recommendation is to purchase your compressor based on the sound you are seeking, if you actually need one at all. And purchase your audio interface on the quality of sound (or *lack* of defects or annoying omissions or features).

Having said that - the UA stuff is probably awesome.
Thanks! Sometimes I track without compression, but some voices has too high dynamic range for direct tracking. It these cases I use compression. Few times I had to record such voices without compression, it wasn't pleasure ) Headphone amp pushed all way up to maximum to compensate low level recording... Maybe I really need to test UA's Apollo

My resent portable interface was Focusrite Forte, great conversion and sound, but I found that I can't feel comfortable without any compression, plus it was really unstable on Mavericks. So I've just sold it.
Old 28th February 2014
  #14
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A440's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Not a one box solution. But you could consider a small-ish 2 box solution, such as the Metric Halo ULN-2 and an RND 5043 portico compressor. The ULN-2 allows for an insert between the mic pres and the converters. You could fit both boxes into a shoulder bag no trouble and it would be a high quality system.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #15
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romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 ➡️
Not a one box solution. But you could consider a small-ish 2 box solution, such as the Metric Halo ULN-2 and an RND 5043 portico compressor. The ULN-2 allows for an insert between the mic pres and the converters. You could fit both boxes into a shoulder bag no trouble and it would be a high quality system.
Thanks!
Looks like 1 of the most interesting solutions
Old 28th February 2014
  #16
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
The SSL Alpha Channel, which has an A/D converter, has a limiter on it. It's for safety though, rather than for sculpting, so might not be what you're after. You'd still need a monitoring solution as well. So really, probably not what you need, but a fun box nonetheless with a genuine SSL EQ. Just thought I'd put it out there. :D
Old 28th February 2014
  #17
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zohomoho's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
the new aphex usb has an optical compressor.
Old 28th February 2014
  #18
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🎧 10 years
The MR 816 CSX has onboard digital compression which is actually pretty damn good if you just need level control
Old 28th February 2014
  #19
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Beechwood's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
There's a version of the focusrite octopre with a compressor for each of the 8 preamps... http://global.focusrite.com/mic-pres...e-mkii-dynamic
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #20
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zohomoho's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
yea, i was kinda surprised how good that thing is, i think yamaha coded it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 ➡️
The MR 816 CSX has onboard digital compression which is actually pretty damn good if you just need level control
Old 28th February 2014
  #21
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popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Doesn't ART make a ProChannel with digital out? Voice Channel? I'm sure you can find any number of channel strips with a compressor and an AD that can be used with whatever SPDIF having interface.

Or there are some like the Steinberg that give an analog INSERT--that's the best you'll get from an interface, that will allow connection of an analog compressor prior to AD conversion. So, if you had the 816, you could connect a RNC (because it's inserts are unbalanced)...and there--it's only two of it's 8 channels, but...
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #22
XI-MACHINES
 
DAW PLUS's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 ➡️
The MR 816 CSX has onboard digital compression which is actually pretty damn good if you just need level control
And the MR series are the only interfaces I know that have 2 analog inserts. No idea why this is ignored so much by developers.

A workaround I used for a while is using a Mini-Me with its coaxial out connected to a Lynx-Two. Great pre and comp/limiter.
Old 28th February 2014
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Use them all the time for adding hardware compression at tracking stage. Didn't know they were so uncommon.
Old 28th February 2014
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
margusalviste's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Steinberg MR816 is a great tool! And it costs nothing!
Old 28th February 2014
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
Miguel Cordeiro's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
my cakewalk Ua25-EX has this and it's a 200$ interface.
And it's analog alright, last stage before the a/d stage.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 
musicalnyc's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The discontinued Apogee Mini-Me has a great and easy-to-use built-in compressor.

Don, please bring back Push-It compression! Really wish the Symphony mic pre card had this built in. I miss my mini me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonSpacht ➡️
I'll add Soft Limit, which has been available in Apogee converters and interfaces since the early 90's. ONE, Duet, and Quartet all have it.
What is Soft Limit?
Old 1st March 2014
  #27
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I think overly-dynamic singers shouldn't be "fixed" with compression at the tracking stage. 24 bit digital has greater dynamic range than whatever analog preamp you use - so you can capture everything the preamp is putting out without clipping - just set the gain so it doesn't clip. Sure - it will seem "under-recorded" - but that isn't a problem for digital, it's a problem for the preamp. Analog stuff has a sweet spot - too low and you get poor signal to noise, too hot and it saturates and clips. Digital can cope, right up until the point it clips. Now if you squash the preamp signal with a compressor, you invariably add make up gain. That makes clipping worse, because all compressors have an attack time during which all transients slip right through - made worse by the make up gain.

My solution - if you can't make the singer behave - is to record them with two preamps or analog channels (either two mics, or split the mic). Set one for the soft parts, and don't worry that it clips on the shouty stuff. And set the other for the shouty stuff and don't worry it's under-recorded for the soft stuff. Comp the best takes later on - maybe verses and choruses.

This will keep the signal more in the sweet spot - your A/D will cope with both fine, and it lets you choose the best stuff later on.

Smashing with a compressor just means that you are squashing bad sound for no particularly good reason. I would rather track the one preamp as clean as possible, and then automate levels afterwards, and then apply compression after that.
Old 1st March 2014 | Show parent
  #28
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sound_music's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi ➡️
if you can't make the singer behave - is to record them with two preamps or analog channels (either two mics, or split the mic). Set one for the soft parts, and don't worry that it clips on the shouty stuff. And set the other for the shouty stuff and don't worry it's under-recorded for the soft stuff. Comp the best takes later on - maybe verses and choruses.

This will keep the signal more in the sweet spot - your A/D will cope with both fine, and it lets you choose the best stuff later on.
i've actually tried this a few times, but never had matched pars of my best vocal mics so i felt i was always making a compromise on one track or the other for the singer in question.

if i had 2x whichever mic i thought sounded the best on a singer i'd do it more often. it's a great way to capture a complete performance in one shot. (not that that that ever really happens much these days unfortunately!)
Old 1st March 2014 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi ➡️
I think overly-dynamic singers shouldn't be "fixed" with compression at the tracking stage. 24 bit digital has greater dynamic range than whatever analog preamp you use - so you can capture everything the preamp is putting out without clipping - just set the gain so it doesn't clip. Sure - it will seem "under-recorded" - but that isn't a problem for digital, it's a problem for the preamp. Analog stuff has a sweet spot - too low and you get poor signal to noise, too hot and it saturates and clips. Digital can cope, right up until the point it clips. Now if you squash the preamp signal with a compressor, you invariably add make up gain. That makes clipping worse, because all compressors have an attack time during which all transients slip right through - made worse by the make up gain.

My solution - if you can't make the singer behave - is to record them with two preamps or analog channels (either two mics, or split the mic). Set one for the soft parts, and don't worry that it clips on the shouty stuff. And set the other for the shouty stuff and don't worry it's under-recorded for the soft stuff. Comp the best takes later on - maybe verses and choruses.

This will keep the signal more in the sweet spot - your A/D will cope with both fine, and it lets you choose the best stuff later on.

Smashing with a compressor just means that you are squashing bad sound for no particularly good reason. I would rather track the one preamp as clean as possible, and then automate levels afterwards, and then apply compression after that.

You are probably right. However I only have one good hardware comp so I like to get a bit of that vibe on vox, clean guitar and acoustic so I track with 3 to 6 db compression. How bad can it be?

I like what I'm hearing in the final result a lot better and when I need a bit more compression from software It seems to do its job much nicer.

Your dual preamp approach sounds interesting. Are you driving them a bit?
Old 1st March 2014 | Show parent
  #30
Here for the gear
 
romanstyx's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi ➡️
I think overly-dynamic singers shouldn't be "fixed" with compression at the tracking stage. 24 bit digital has greater dynamic range than whatever analog preamp you use - so you can capture everything the preamp is putting out without clipping - just set the gain so it doesn't clip. Sure - it will seem "under-recorded" - but that isn't a problem for digital, it's a problem for the preamp. Analog stuff has a sweet spot - too low and you get poor signal to noise, too hot and it saturates and clips. Digital can cope, right up until the point it clips. Now if you squash the preamp signal with a compressor, you invariably add make up gain. That makes clipping worse, because all compressors have an attack time during which all transients slip right through - made worse by the make up gain.

My solution - if you can't make the singer behave - is to record them with two preamps or analog channels (either two mics, or split the mic). Set one for the soft parts, and don't worry that it clips on the shouty stuff. And set the other for the shouty stuff and don't worry it's under-recorded for the soft stuff. Comp the best takes later on - maybe verses and choruses.

This will keep the signal more in the sweet spot - your A/D will cope with both fine, and it lets you choose the best stuff later on.

Smashing with a compressor just means that you are squashing bad sound for no particularly good reason. I would rather track the one preamp as clean as possible, and then automate levels afterwards, and then apply compression after that.
Looks like we don't talk about portable solutions anymore ) But it's really interesting technique, never tried it before. Can you post some link for a track recorded this way? Maybe iTunes link. It would be really interesting to listen and analyze voice character
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