New Master Bus Compressor RE VS MClass Compressor

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michael.jaye
Posts: 164
Joined: 18 Jan 2015
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post 20 May 2020

Any thoughts on FXpansion's DCAM Buss Compressor? It doesn't get mentioned much.

I read it is based on an SSL-style bus compressor. It certainly glues things together for me, but it also gives a nice gritty character - even when not saturating or running hot.

Instinctivly I grab it for only certain projects, can't really articulate why or when though. Perhaps when I don't want somewthing transparent, like when I'm doing old-=skool house track.

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Loque
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Post 21 May 2020

michael.jaye wrote:
20 May 2020
Any thoughts on FXpansion's DCAM Buss Compressor? It doesn't get mentioned much.

I read it is based on an SSL-style bus compressor. It certainly glues things together for me, but it also gives a nice gritty character - even when not saturating or running hot.

Instinctivly I grab it for only certain projects, can't really articulate why or when though. Perhaps when I don't want somewthing transparent, like when I'm doing old-=skool house track.
I never liked the DCAM compressors. They never worked for me. I disliked the results everytime i tried them. Maybe i used them wrong. And i think they are ugly.
:reason: 11, Win10 64Bit.

jlgrimes
Posts: 462
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

Post 21 May 2020

zero-13 wrote:
20 May 2020
selig wrote:
20 May 2020


You are the only one who will know if you're covered or not. But I would at the least familiarize myself with the most common classic compressors out there - they are classic for a good reason!
I would include the LA-2a, 1176, and DBX in that league, and also any variable Mu types like Fairchild or Manley (in addition to the SSL master bus compressor, also a "classic" IMO).

The MClass doesn't really fill any particular void for me, either as an obvious "always try it on this instrument" type compressor OR as a versatile desert island compressor such as a Distressor. There's nothing I could say that I feel is bad about it, it's just that for every application where I use compression, it's not the best tool for the job. After you get familiar with the classics you may still (or may not) find the MClass useful - but you'll only know once you compare! At the least, I suggest getting familiar with an LA-2a (optical) type compressor for transparent "leveling/smoothing", and an 1176 type for aggressive "obvious" compression, and the SSL for bus/mix compression (since you can't go wrong with any of those).
I appreciate your knowledge even though it's at full apogee from my current perigee.

So looking through all my REs, it seems I have had for a while but not utilized or even tried out for that matter the Cakewalk RE-2A (Don't remember at all if I bought this or it was given free at some point?) and also have Selig Leveler (is this similar to LA-2a?), I figure I'll spend some ear training time with these along with the new MBC and try to get some minor discernment going.

Not to derail this discussion, sort of relevant, but I've just recently started using a Selig Gain as the first insert effect and bringing down any and all devices down to -18db before going into anything else i.e. compressor, EQ etc. and then another Selig Gain at the end to get everything to around -12 db... Is this in any way shape or form okay or "correct"?

My understanding from countless varied tutorials and piecemeal snippets of info, is that some effects / devices work optimally at around -18 db so my thinking is just feed anything and everything the same -18 db?

Any quick guidance (by quick I mean even a "nope, try again" is more than enough ) you guys can share in this regard would help immensely to either quickly confirm I'm understanding things, or get myself back to the lessons before passing go.
La2a is an optical compressor which generally are good for smooth vocal leveling.

It is also one of the easiest compressors to learn basically just two knobs.

If you record/mix vocals, la2a is probably one of the most common compressors. The good thing is that it is simple and forgiving (ie sounds pretty good usually at aggressive settings).

Havent tried Selig Leveler so cant comment.

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selig
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Post 21 May 2020

orthodox wrote:
20 May 2020
zero-13 wrote:
20 May 2020
... bringing down any and all devices down to -18db before going into anything else i.e. compressor, EQ etc.
I don't think it is necessary. Not many devices behave differently depending on input level. In particular, 0 dB does not mean anything, there is no clipping nor overflow.
You can safely assume most of devices are not input level dependent. Devices doing saturation, some hardware emulations can behave differently. Master Bus compressor, most EQs are not dependent.
[Master Bus and ALL compressors are absolutely level dependent…]
I find this approach absolutely helpful in my workflow, but not because of clipping or similar. The idea isn't just about non-linear devices, it's about a digital workflow that replaces the old "gain staging" for analog systems.
My approach is to use a peak reference level for all audio signals, both originating in Reason and external recorded audio. I've chosen -12 dBFS based on something Paul Frindle (Sony Oxford designer) said years ago about digital headroom. There are multiple reasons for this, one being to leave headroom in the mix bus without additional fader adjusting throughout the mix process. Another is so that any added processing (EQ/dynamics/etc) can be A/B compared without a level jump, another reason is so you can bypass or delete any processing without a level jump, and yet another reason is so you always know what level is coming into any device (especially useful for compressors/gates etc, so you can more quickly set them up since the input level is always peaking at around the same place).

As for effects working at -18 dB, you didn't specify whether that's -18 dBu or -18 dBFS. If you're using Selig Gain, you'll be reading dBFS (peaks), BUT analog to digital conversion typically aligns with 0 dBu = -18 dBFS. What this means is that the -18 love is VU, not the Peak level. Peaks will be much higher than VU, sometimes as much as 20 dB or more, and inconsistently so - so a signal at -18 dBu can potentially clip the outputs if not reduced.
It is for this reason I use peak levels exclusively when setting internal gain in a DAW. Finally, I would not use TWO standards for levels, I'd find one that works for you. If you typically work on very high track count productions you may want to choose -15 dBFS to leave enough headroom. My projects these days don't typically exceed 32-48 tracks and I find for the most part that -12dBFS works - and this is the level Reason uses for it's patch library and for the level meters for audio tracks (levels above -12dBFS are yellow, below that are green). This is also why Selig Gain does the same with its meters and peak hold display.

Finally, the only thing that would happen if you ran levels "hot" into a saturating device is you'd get a little more saturation - most of these would allow fine tuning the "color" anyway, and this is done "to taste" so there's really no "correct" level - just a nominal range where the product CAN respond as designed (and this range is quite wide in most cases).
Selig Audio, LLC

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orthodox
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Post 21 May 2020

selig wrote:
21 May 2020
[Master Bus and ALL compressors are absolutely level dependent…]
They are level dependent, in plain sense, but you can adjust the threshold and then some compressors behave the same when the input level and the threshold decrease by the same amount, and some behave differently. Master Bus and MClass compressors can be compensated with threshold, Mix Channel Dynamics cannot.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

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zero-13
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Post 22 May 2020

Thanks guys for all the incredibly detailed info and advice, it’s very much appreciated, working hard to absorb all this knowledge.

@Selig, I’m using two Selig Gains so definitely meant dbfs, I‘m still getting familiar with all the various metering types and most of my understanding is still pretty green.

So it sounds like this method might be okay, or at least shouldn’t “hurt” anything?

I have one Selig Gain on incoming signal to -18dbfs then all other effects after ending in a Selig Gain exiting no more than -12dbfs.

Part of this (not the insert fx slot) as far as -12 dbfs I learned from the Selig Gain staging video but I can’t remember which couple of sources I acquired the practice of putting a gain plugin before everything.

One other thing I’ve been curious about that you guys might advise me on, is that I have this two Selig Gains, EQ, effects etc. inside the insert FX slot of each instrument’s mix channel, is this an okay method or rather is there any reason I might not want to use the insert FX slot?

Thanks guys!

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