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Best "Bang for your Buck" 12AX7 tube upgrade (or equal)for Digitech VCS-1 Compressor?
Old 3rd March 2015
  #1
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smoovemode's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Best "Bang for your Buck" 12AX7 tube upgrade (or equal)for Digitech VCS-1 Compressor?

I just bought this Digitech VCS-1 Compressor and from what I read about it. It's pretty good. But, slutting around on here I discovered that putting in better tubes could make it sound better. So, I so them and I was shocked how much some of the tubes go for! My question is this.

What tube would be the best choice for this piece within a reasonable price range. I believe there may be russian tubes in it now as I read from the instructions. If the application matters, I will be using this for mostly two buss compression, limiting and vocals. Unless the unit is on the "clean" side I'd probably want a tube that's not too "wooly" and maybe is on the clean side until it's pushed.

Thanks

BTW:How does this compressor stand up to the Chameleon Labs 7802?


Thanks
Old 3rd March 2015
  #2
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Capashitor's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hey, good choice. You'll like it on everything, it's quite brutal and not so much on the clean side. The deesser works a treat reducing hihats on a snare track, besides making it sound killer. I had mesa boogie 12ax7 tubes laying around and put them inside since the original tubes were starting to die, cranking the tube gain past 2 o'clock brings in some cool features. What I like best is to cut a lot of gain with a minimal ratio (like 1,5:1), that's where the compressor has the most interesting and fastest attack and release, I haven't seen any plugin that sounds as metal as this.
Old 3rd March 2015
  #3
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The VCS is a VCA compressor so it is not likely similar to the Chameleon 7802, which is opto. I have a VCS, I like it on acoustic guitar. Some people like them on drums. There is a wide variance of sound possibilities with all the control it offers. I haven't changed the tubes out so I am interested in responses here too.
Old 3rd March 2015 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capashitor ➑️
Hey, good choice. You'll like it on everything, it's quite brutal and not so much on the clean side. The deesser works a treat reducing hihats on a snare track, besides making it sound killer. I had mesa boogie 12ax7 tubes laying around and put them inside since the original tubes were starting to die, cranking the tube gain past 2 o'clock brings in some cool features. What I like best is to cut a lot of gain with a minimal ratio (like 1,5:1), that's where the compressor has the most interesting and fastest attack and release, I haven't seen any plugin that sounds as metal as this.
Thanks Capashitor! I'll defineately try those settings!
Old 3rd March 2015 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic ➑️
The VCS is a VCA compressor so it is not likely similar to the Chameleon 7802, which is opto. I have a VCS, I like it on acoustic guitar. Some people like them on drums. There is a wide variance of sound possibilities with all the control it offers. I haven't changed the tubes out so I am interested in responses here too.
I'm relieved to hear it's a good box. At first I thought I may have gone for a RNC.
Old 4th March 2015 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode ➑️
I'm relieved to hear it's a good box. At first I thought I may have gone for a RNC.
I had a couple RNC's for a while. I found them to make everything thinner and 2 dimensional. To me they were all hype and there are many affordable compressors I would rather use (and do).
Old 4th March 2015 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic ➑️
I had a couple RNC's for a while. I found them to make everything thinner and 2 dimensional. To me they were all hype and there are many affordable compressors I would rather use (and do).
Which ones are some of your favorites?
Old 4th March 2015 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode ➑️
Which ones are some of your favorites?
MXR Dual Limiter
DBX 163x
Urei 7110
Alesis Micro Limiter
Ashly SC55
Old 4th March 2015
  #9
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Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode ➑️
I just bought this Digitech VCS-1 Compressor and from what I read about it. It's pretty good. But, slutting around on here I discovered that putting in better tubes could make it sound better. So, I so them and I was shocked how much some of the tubes go for! My question is this.

What tube would be the best choice for this piece within a reasonable price range. I believe there may be russian tubes in it now as I read from the instructions. If the application matters, I will be using this for mostly two buss compression, limiting and vocals. Unless the unit is on the "clean" side I'd probably want a tube that's not too "wooly" and maybe is on the clean side until it's pushed.

Thanks

BTW:How does this compressor stand up to the Chameleon Labs 7802?


Thanks
Go with Tungsols for value. The Tubestore rated it well with some other ones.
www.thetubestore.com - Tung-Sol 12AX7 Audio Tubes

Other than that, FMR's stuff (RNLA and PBC) are full of quality and personality.
Old 4th March 2015 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast_Fingers ➑️
Go with Tungsols for value. The Tubestore rated it well with some other ones.
www.thetubestore.com - Tung-Sol 12AX7 Audio Tubes

Other than that, FMR's stuff (RNLA and PBC) are full of quality and personality.
Thanks for your information. I was thinking about spending a little more and getting a pair of mullards. But, are Mullards the clear winner or is there some applications where the Tung-Sol excel in ? If I had to specify a sound I was looking for, it would be wide and Airy without being brittle/harsh, if there's a tube cable of this.
Old 5th March 2015 | Show parent
  #11
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode ➑️
Thanks for your information. I was thinking about spending a little more and getting a pair of mullards. But, are Mullards the clear winner or is there some applications where the Tung-Sol excel in ? If I had to specify a sound I was looking for, it would be wide and Airy without being brittle/harsh, if there's a tube cable of this.
Trying to find an appropriate tube for a specific circuit is a moibus rabbit hole journey

any tube, that functions in a particular circuit, can be the 'best' tube but no tube can be guaranteed to be more then functional in any specific circuit from specs alone.

Typically, for anything other then pure confirmation bias, you buy a shitload of tubes, have some sort legitimate test gear (including microphony, bandwidth as well as ubiquitous marketing g/m), and spend (waste) a lot of time trying to evaluation extremely subtle differences . . . of course telling one's self that each is 'magical'.

Try the Tung-Sol. If you hear appreciable difference try the Mullards (sidestepping the issue of which one's (from Phillips' 47 Mullard factories on Six continents) are 'Mullards' . . .

In some sames as other then coloration adjunct the 12ax7 is not a particularly strong 'dynamics processor' choice. . . colloquially speaking bandwidth and Mu are in inverse relationship and for dynamics lower noise, increased bandwidth is more promising topology then higher Mu. Unfortunately simply plugging in a nine pin double triode variant doesn't work . . . the rest of the circuit needs to be configured to support the different tube.

(even in hey day finding tubes with 20% variation among stated specs was not unusual . . . g/m spec is always, even in marketing sheets, quote as a range because plate resistance changes with heat (among other variables). In any valve topology it's quite possible that the most cost effective (if typically most expensive) 'upgrade' is in the power transformer, closely followed by careful replacement of caps, closely followed by appropriately checking and replacing resistors. Like so many other aspects of audio the marque variable, i.e. evacuated glass envelop, is the least important element, & honestly the hardest to test and evaluate from a distance.

But the journey is worth the effort (even if it will train one's wallet w/o ever having to even look at 'new' gear)
Old 5th March 2015
  #12
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🎧 15 years
Personally I wouldn't drop a ton here... Nice set of tung sols and I think your good... I wouldn't spend a 100 on Mullard for a compressor that's not worth that much to begin with... I had it probably 10yrs ago and remember it just being ok... If you had the vc/L then I'd say drop the loot
Old 5th March 2015 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janesaid2me ➑️
Personally I wouldn't drop a ton here... Nice set of tung sols and I think your good... I wouldn't spend a 100 on Mullard for a compressor that's not worth that much to begin with... I had it probably 10yrs ago and remember it just being ok... If you had the vc/L then I'd say drop the loot
I agree with you! $100.00 is way too much for this comp. I saw a set of mullards for just a few dollars more than the Tung Sols. Should I go for those or are those "knock offs"?

In reference to the VCS what tier of compressors would you put it in? I was under the impression it could compete with Avalons and what not from what I read from the reviews. Would something from Chameleon Labs (7720) beat up on it?

thanks

UPDATE: If the VCS1 is worth keeping, you're suggestion for the Tung Sols seems to be the way to go. I went to some Tube forum and like you all, they raved about the Tung Sols. I also heard that Mullards (re-issue) are darker than the Tung Sols but I want something a little more "crisp" which is the vibe I'm looking for.

Last edited by smoovemode; 5th March 2015 at 05:11 AM..
Old 8th March 2015
  #14
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🎧 10 years
I have an RNC too and the VCS smokes it any day. I barely use the RNC anymore. The VCS has very good components inside, I think I saw nichicon caps inside when I replaced the tubes, the PCB is laid out well with big thick traces and the PSU is isolated by a metal casing. I like it as much as my 1968, couldnt live without either of them.
Old 8th March 2015
  #15
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I haven't used one in years... But i agree from what I remember I liked it more then the rnc which I also had and sold... Was just to mehhh... I mean the rnc isn't bad it just doesn't do anything for me...
I think the tung sols are a good investment. If you really want expert tube advice contact Christian... User name BOWIE on here... He does all my tube selections for any equipment... He knows his stuff and can really explain what ever tube sounds like and what works best in your piece of gear... But again u may be fine just going w the tung sols... Spending 100s of dollars on tubes is barely worth the upgrade in most situations imho
Old 8th March 2015
  #16
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I love my 7720 BTW... Sounds very close to Ssl bus comp plugins... Zen audio does a great mod for it too
Old 8th March 2015 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janesaid2me ➑️
I love my 7720 BTW... Sounds very close to Ssl bus comp plugins... Zen audio does a great mod for it too
The 7720 keeps sneaking up on me. Would you say it sounds consederably better than the VCS? The only downer about the 7720 is it seems to be permanently linked so you cannot use two different sources at the same time. There's a 7802 which you can, but I believe people say the 7720 sounds better.
Old 9th March 2015
  #18
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Ok well I wouldn't say considerably better... But its been a long time since I've touched that peavey unit.
The 7720 is modded after the Ssl bus comp... Ive done tests comparing to my waves Ssl comp plugin and its very close... I prefer the 7720 because it has the cut knob that the plugin doesn't and when used keeps the low end from getting sucked out so much by triggering the comp...
Old 9th March 2015
  #19
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I had one of these for a couple years and tried all kinds of NOS tubes. I remember being very disappointed at how little difference the tube changes made.
Old 9th March 2015 | Show parent
  #20
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Coates ➑️
I had one of these for a couple years and tried all kinds of NOS tubes. I remember being very disappointed at how little difference the tube changes made.
Do you feel the VLA II us a better option for tube upgrades and performance?
Old 9th March 2015
  #21
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Only if it's one of the modded ones with higher voltages to the tubes. By the way, the Digitech VCS is the exact same comp as the DBX 566. The VCS was purchased by DBX and they merely changed the cosmetics and called it the 566.

Last edited by Rob Coates; 9th March 2015 at 04:58 AM..
Old 9th March 2015 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Coates ➑️
Only if it's one of the modded ones with higher voltages to the tubes. By the way, the Digitech VCS is the exact same comp as the DBX 566. The VCS was purchased by DBX and they merely changed the cosmetics and called it the 566.
That's good to know! The 566s seem to be a little more common.
Old 9th March 2015
  #23
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Interesting, didn't know they were the same as the DBX.
Old 9th March 2015 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic ➑️
Interesting, didn't know they were the same as the DBX.
I just looked at the DBX and the back looks identical!
Old 10th March 2015
  #25
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🎧 15 years
Thats crazy about the dbx... Love when Companies do stuff like that...
The vla2 is a nice box I own it still... Takes well to a tube upgrade...
Old 10th March 2015 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janesaid2me ➑️
Thats crazy about the dbx... Love when Companies do stuff like that...
The vla2 is a nice box I own it still... Takes well to a tube upgrade...
It looks like I'll probably end up getting one premium bus compressor and a few of the VLA IIs for "workhorsing" (yeah I made it up..lol). I may be able to get away with just one compressor and just move it up and down the mix but that would involve re-recording each important stem. I have a RNC on the way and was going to get a RNLA. But, it sounds like to me the VLA 2 is a better option and they are both almost the same price.
Old 10th March 2015
  #27
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Vla2 will be much more versatile then the rnla in my opinion... Consider u can mod the VLA too
Old 10th March 2015 | Show parent
  #28
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smoovemode's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janesaid2me ➑️
Vla2 will be much more versatile then the rnla in my opinion... Consider u can mod the VLA too
That's true! I've seen a few mods floating around here and there. I believe the upside is the VLA 2 is balanced and dual channel with stereo link. That alone blows away the RNLA to me.
Old 19th September 2017
  #29
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GeorgeHayduke's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The VCS-1 is spec'ed for a 12AX7A but the local shop only had ECC83, so I got that. They were TAD ECC83-cz Selected (RT003).

It turns out the 12AX7 (no A in the end) doesn't work for series circuits, only for 'parallel-filament circuits'. Well, the manual says that the VCS-1 tube circuit is 'parallel-triode design', so I guess all is well. This is one situation where I feel a bit 'under-spec'ed' as an audio engineer

Anyways, I put them in, replacing the original 12AX7A's and everything seems to be working fine. Furthermore, the noise is gone, I think the old ones were getting long in the tooth. I never actually managed to get this unit set up properly before, I feel I'm finally hearing this thing now, the sound is solid now, I was having some trouble with weird freq. or volume drops - it must have been the old tubes, they are also 20 years old or more at this point.

I sent an Oberheim piano patch and bass patch through it, and I have to say, this is a pretty sweet sounding compressor. No noise whatsoever from pots or anything else, definitly acceptable amount of background noise for my uses with the new tubes - it must be two or three years since I last fired it up, and I'm gonna track some vocals tomorrow, I'll be sure to send one of the signal lines to the VCS-1.

PS: I love splitting when tracking, does anyone know if I can use the Sidechain Send as a through signal for further use? I'd like to send it to a reamper and the manual says the send is balanced.
Old 7th June 2021 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capa****or ➑️
Hey, good choice. You'll like it on everything, it's quite brutal and not so much on the clean side. The deesser works a treat reducing hihats on a snare track, besides making it sound killer. I had mesa boogie 12ax7 tubes laying around and put them inside since the original tubes were starting to die, cranking the tube gain past 2 o'clock brings in some cool features. What I like best is to cut a lot of gain with a minimal ratio (like 1,5:1), that's where the compressor has the most interesting and fastest attack and release, I haven't seen any plugin that sounds as metal as this.
Hello Capa****or,

I am very interested in the metal sound you describe.
a 'metal-sound machine' is the thing (among other sounds ) I am looking for!

do you think the Digitech vcs-1 would be a suitable sound manipulator? one that can change sound from A to B? from wood to metal sounds? or is it very subtle what you say about metal sound?
πŸ“ Reply

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