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Dramastic Obsidian vs. Smart C1LA
Old 6th March 2014
  #1
Dramastic Obsidian vs. Smart C1LA

Ok people, I'd love to stir up some discussion about 500 series buss compressors, specifically the Dramastic Obsidian and Smart C1LA. Would love some insight from those who have tried/owned.

A few conclusions of my own:

I've read basically everything that has been written here and elsewhere about each of these and I've used the 19" Dramastic before but never the Smart. I'm quite fond of the G series compressor sound, but I'd love a compressor that has a bit more depth, variability, and sparkle.

Not really interested in the growing number of 'lower budget' options.

I get the feeling that the Smart is extremely versatile, given its functionality/options, but may have a very overt 'SSL' sound that is only useful to me in some/most cases.

Also, importantly, this is my first purchase of an outboard processor of any kind. I am a die-hard ITB mixer and I realize that incorporating analogue processing will take some getting used to. But I am convinced that it is a good idea!

So. I need a compressor that I can 'slap on' for mojo/width/depth and not completely ruin a mix that is 80-90% finished. I do realize that some of that responsibility is up to the user, but I want something that is simply going to sound good and not 'undo' my work.

... this is all to say, I've almost been convinced that I should just buy the Dramastic and not question its price tag. And this is your last chance to convince me, one way or another!
Old 6th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
bgrotto's Avatar
I own a Dramastic 500, and mix through it 99% of the time. It's awesome. One of the few pieces of gear that I can honestly say made my mixes better the moment I started using it.

It sounds great, is super easy to recall, and it sounds great. Had to mention that twice

It's got a definite character; tends to make things sound punchier, even without any gain reduction. The HPF is great; keeps the bottom end where you need it. Imaging is amongst the best I've heard, and the top end stays crisp and open (to my ears, it actually does something kinda sparkly and nice up there). It works in subtle doses, or even super heavy-handed slamming. I really can't say enough good about it.
Old 6th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
ionian's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I've had an Obsidian 500 now for about 3 years and it'll be the last piece to ever leave my studio!

It has a way of letting the snare and the vocal occupy the same space without stepping on each other. It really is a phenomenal piece of gear.

Regards,
Frank
Old 6th March 2014
  #4
Inspiring words, gentlemen. Thanks for sharing!

... the scale is tipping. Any others out there?
Old 6th March 2014
  #5
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I owned a Smart C2 a couple of years ago but unfortunately had to sell it. I now own a Dramastic Obsidian (19" rack). Both are fantastic compressors and just a little bit different sounding. Eventually I'd like to buy another Smart C2 or C1LA (I assume they sound more or less the same) as I think both would be beneficial. I think you'd be happy with either one but if I could only have 1, I would probably go with the Obsidian
Old 6th March 2014
  #6
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Don't have either but about to pull the trigger on the obsidian, sounds like I'm in the exact same boat as the OP, been saving up for the obsidian (for a year now!), often wrestled with the idea of just getting one of the cheaper alternatives on the way. But I've held it out now, and I'll be getting one next month now for sure. Can't wait now, reading some if the posts here

Last edited by ArrowMcCross; 6th March 2014 at 10:50 AM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 6th March 2014
  #7
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
We added the Dramastic Obsidian 19" to our Clipalator using the exact same settings and gain reduction vs the following models:

Alta Moda Hippo
Serpent Audio SB4001
TK Audio BC1-S
SSL G Buss 500
Chameleon Labs 7720 (stock and mod)

We used test tones to be sure all was fair so you can hear the absolute difference in compression and tone.

Since they all claim to be SSL buss compressors we figured why not.

War
Old 6th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead ➡️
We added the Dramastic Obsidian 19" to our Clipalator...
You're a modern hero, War. I am intimately familiar!
Old 6th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by anearforgear ➡️
You're a modern hero, War. I am intimately familiar!
Well either way I hope it helps get a take on how it compares to many others!

War
Old 11th March 2014
  #10
Gear Head
I think about selling my 19" Obsidian. Let me know if you're interested…

the reasons: if you don't want to read my whole explanation, here it is short: right now for me its 'to cast pearls before swine' - first I need better speakers, room treatment and a better converter. And, maybe the most important reason - money to buy that stuff

I bought the unit maybe 2 years ago as an ssl cloning bus compressor. As I was more into 4 to the floor electronic music back then, I needed something with the hpf option.
But since then I slowly realized that my RME fire face 400 is not really an upper class interface, which you need for that purpose. If I put audio through it, just an unprocessed cable loop back in my DAW, I can hear that something is lost, I would say punch and clarity somewhere in the bass region, between 80 to 200 Hz something gets a little muddy…
So I think you get it, the best bus compressor makes no sense if the converter sucks..

Furthermore I rearranged my Studio speakers, readjusted my sub bass, shifting the phase etc…. which again improved my mixing results since then.. but still somehow I am not satisfied with my speaker sound. I don't want to blame the speakers (Adam P11 A + Adam Sub) , more the room..

all in all, I think there are some other things like room treatment or speakers I want to test out, NS10s and Auratones are on my list and of course in the future, a great digital converter

I think you get it, all I can say is, the Obsidian feels like a high class gear, because whatever you do with it, it always sounds somehow 'good' and still 'interesting', even if you crank up the settings.
Its always a lot more fun to play with that hardware unit than with a software compressor, I would surely miss that..

If you want Photos, further infos or sound examples, please contact me via email: info _at_ tellermotion _dot_ com
Old 11th March 2014
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Inceptic's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
That's very interesting tellermotion.

I've been thinking about my first bus compressor for months now, and the really nice ones such as these are over $2K. Much more than what I paid for my Zed-R16!

From all the threads on gearslutz, it seems the Obsidian is a favorite. I also read some members complaining about some of the buttons on the C1LA.
Old 11th March 2014
  #12
Gear Head
I don't regret buying it, I had other compressors here for testing for about 4 days, but that cannot replace having a unit for several months in your studio.
Fortunately, still that high end gear does not lose too much of its price, even if its used, that was also a reason I bought the unit.

And I just wanted to have a 'high end compressor' myself and not read about this and that super duper mojo gear..

and in the end I learned a lot: not a single piece of gear can make your mix better if the faders are not set right.
And every unit has its purpose and its limitations

so if you're not satisfied with a mix, a super expensive bus compressor won't make you satisfied after you switch it on. Thats what I tried to say: there are other things that have more effect on a mix than the buscompressor, (for me: speakers, faders, room, converter= and if you don't get those right before, a bus comp makes no sense.. because it only brings your bad mix from 60% to 63%..

but thats just how it turned out for me..
so I know for now I will get along quite good with plugins, also for the sake of speed: I can bounce tracks offline, with hardware you always have to do realtime bounces
Old 11th March 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 
owensands's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I had the 19" obsidian. I loved it. I bought the C1LA and have had it for the last 6-7 months with no regrets at all. Its great. Sounds just as good to my ears as the 19" obsidian with more features. I sold the obsidian and never looked back. Never compared it to the 500 obsidian though. Don't get me wrong though the obsidian was just as great. I just saved myself about 500 dollars in the process. They have an extremely similar sound. Also the metering on the C1la is far superior. I use the C1lA as first piece in mastering chain and the metering on it is great for that purpose.
Old 11th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tellermotion ➡️
I think about selling my 19" Obsidian. Let me know if you're interested…
Thanks for the offer, tellermotion, and for sharing your experience. I went ahead with the 500 series Obsidian because its extra features (over the 19") are important to me. And I agree, if the room, monitoring, conversion is not 'there', an investment into analog hardware is not so wise, nor will its effects be as apparent/inspiring.


Quote:
Originally Posted by owensands ➡️
I had the 19" obsidian. I loved it. I bought the C1LA and have had it for the last 6-7 months with no regrets at all... They have an extremely similar sound...
Good to know you've had good results with both. My sales rep ensured me that they're both top notch units and it's almost like flipping a coin (ignoring price tag, of course). Ultimately I went with the Obsidian 500 because I've actually used one and I just can't be without those Jensen transformers. Maybe I'll have to start saving for the C1LA, that way I can have both.
Old 11th March 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Good to know you've had good results with both. My sales rep ensured me that they're both top notch units and it's almost like flipping a coin (ignoring price tag, of course). Ultimately I went with the Obsidian 500 because I've actually used one and I just can't be without those Jensen transformers. Maybe I'll have to start saving for the C1LA, that way I can have both.
Interesting that you say that....as I was thinking about 4 units from the SSL, C1,2 Obsidian and eventually I bought Smart C2 Crush for the exact opposite reasoning, that I could add that Transformer Sound afterwards if needed, though not take it away! Still I'm sure you'll enjoy the Obsidian.
Old 31st December 2018 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
littlesicily's Avatar
 
16 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead ➡️
We added the Dramastic Obsidian 19" to our Clipalator using the exact same settings and gain reduction vs the following models:
War
@ warhead , what were the settings?
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