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Your best bang-fo-the-buck 2 rack space 2 channel strip

Messages
1,330
I'm looking for a 2017 recommendation for a two space rack piece that has excellent performance in these areas, in order of most importance to me:

1. Stereo Buss compressor (linked or not linked, just a great buss compressor for two signals)
2. Buss/Mastering EQ (again, fine if it's not a 'mastering eq' but I'm looking for smooth-city great sounding to sculpt a stereo buss mix!)
3. Mic pres (this is the least important, since I plan to send my stereo mix to this unit line level, but if this unit happens to have a great set of 2 channel pres, so be it!)

Budget: Under $1500 new. I of course will hope to save a little money and maybe find one of these units in the used market for around $1000, but if the unit you recommend starts out in the $1000 range and is plenty bang for the buck, so be it! I won't complain ;)

In my searching, it seems to me that I can get a really great portable unit that is pres-only, such as the Millenia HV-32P (leaving half-rack space for something else) or one of the many Neve clones in a 2 space that I'm sure sound really great, but there's often no EQ or compressor to round out a 'channel strip' application. Or I've found a local 2 space unit that has EQ and compressor but I've read that the pres are a little lacking.....you get the picture.

What have you found to work for you in this capacity?

I'm looking to fit this in a semi portable rack along with my trusty RME Fireface 800, Audient ASP 880, and 1 space power conditioner. So in other words, I'm looking for the this unit to be my final OTB mix-buss compressor and EQ. So quality does matter within reason, given my budget.
 

JCM 800

Member
Messages
6,614
You are looking for all that in one 2 rack space unit? It's a bit confusing on what you are looking for. Are you wanting two "channel strips" or are you looking for stereo buss compression and EQ? These are different things.

Almost all stereo buss comps and mastering eq units will be separate and many are 2 rack spaces each.
 
Messages
1,330
For example, the Toft ATC2: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ATC2, or this: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Series80B, or this: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/1960.

With all the companies making neve clones and api clones, etc., I'm wondering if there's an all in one unit that might work.

In the Toft unit, I understand I can bypass the mic pres by inserting line level. So far, this unit is the best option for being inexpensive and most of what I want. It's the one I've found locally on CL.
 
Messages
1,330
Some of these are linkable, so even though it's essentially a 2 channel strip unit, they can also basically be used as a mix-buss comp/eq.
 
Messages
1,330
Do you want mix buss processing or front end channel strips?
I already have some decent outboard mic pres to use as a front end to my DAW, so that's why I have the 'pre' part listed as third most prioritized in my original post.

I currently do most of my mixing in the box. Then I send a two track line level signal out to my SoundTech Panoramic 24 channel desk where I utilize a parallel compression step involving either my TC Electronic Finalizer (mix buss compressor) or my old Alesis 3630. At this point, by default I'm also using and finding the mixer channel's EQ section quite nice and useful as a pseudo mix buss EQ.

These four signals (two original signals plus two new compressed signals - all slightly EQ'd now) combine to make my final two-buss mix that ends up back in DAW for rendering.

I'm looking for a 2 channel rack unit that will act as the mix buss compressor/EQ first and foremost (that I currently use the Panoramic EQ and Finalizer compressor for) while staying right in the rack. If it ends up being a channel strip that most people use as a front end (with a mic pre included) is the best option, then so be it.

Can anyone recommend something they've been happy with?
 

vintagelove

Member
Messages
2,811
I'm looking for a 2017 recommendation for a two space rack piece that has excellent performance in these areas, in order of most importance to me:

1. Stereo Buss compressor (linked or not linked, just a great buss compressor for two signals)
2. Buss/Mastering EQ (again, fine if it's not a 'mastering eq' but I'm looking for smooth-city great sounding to sculpt a stereo buss mix!)
3. Mic pres (this is the least important, since I plan to send my stereo mix to this unit line level, but if this unit happens to have a great set of 2 channel pres, so be it!)

Budget: Under $1500 new. I of course will hope to save a little money and maybe find one of these units in the used market for around $1000, but if the unit you recommend starts out in the $1000 range and is plenty bang for the buck, so be it! I won't complain ;)

In my searching, it seems to me that I can get a really great portable unit that is pres-only, such as the Millenia HV-32P (leaving half-rack space for something else) or one of the many Neve clones in a 2 space that I'm sure sound really great, but there's often no EQ or compressor to round out a 'channel strip' application. Or I've found a local 2 space unit that has EQ and compressor but I've read that the pres are a little lacking.....you get the picture.

What have you found to work for you in this capacity?

I'm looking to fit this in a semi portable rack along with my trusty RME Fireface 800, Audient ASP 880, and 1 space power conditioner. So in other words, I'm looking for the this unit to be my final OTB mix-buss compressor and EQ. So quality does matter within reason, given my budget.


Hello, something you may want to seriously consider, is the aea trp. It's a stereo preamp, that is ridiculously good, and downright cheap. I use one interchangeably with a vintage Neve 1066 and a tele v72, it's that good. That leaves about a grand for a nice stereo compressor.

Good luck.
 

electricity17

Member
Messages
867
http://www.regularjohnrecording.com/vca-bax-combo

A little bit over you budget (but not too much), but check out Regular John Recording. They made me a custom bus compressor and stereo Baxandall EQ that sounds fantastic. The compressor is based on an SSL bus compressor. I use it on every mix I do and it does a great job of gluing everything together. I feel like I can push it a little further than I could with software, as I'm often doing 2-4 db worth of reduction on the master bus. Obviously this doesn't have any preamps built in, but mine is a great piece of gear.
 
Messages
1,330
http://www.regularjohnrecording.com/vca-bax-combo

A little bit over you budget (but not too much), but check out Regular John Recording. They made me a custom bus compressor and stereo Baxandall EQ that sounds fantastic. The compressor is based on an SSL bus compressor. I use it on every mix I do and it does a great job of gluing everything together. I feel like I can push it a little further than I could with software, as I'm often doing 2-4 db worth of reduction on the master bus. Obviously this doesn't have any preamps built in, but mine is a great piece of gear.
Holy Moly I've not seen cooler looking units than those at RJR....dang.
 

electricity17

Member
Messages
867
Yeah they make very cool stuff, looks nice too. The guy who runs it is named Dustin, very friendly if you want to chat with him. You'd think it would be more expensive for totally custom builds but his prices are reasonable for what he's doing.
 

schwa

Member
Messages
2,655
I'm not an expert, but it seems like you are trying to do mastering type tasks - final multi-band EQ, multi-band compression, maybe some limiting. Isn't that what the Finalizer does? I believe it does at least some of that.

Many of the channel strips mentioned in this thread are oriented to the input side of things, which is why they have preamps.

I'm sure there are people who master in analog/hardware including pros, but I think it's more common to use software tools to do these jobs today. Back when the Finalizer came out, it was a big ask for software to do the job, but less so today. There are products like Ozone, and Steinberg Wavelab that are specifically oriented to the tasks you describe (mastering eq/compression/limiting, etc.) but they're not hardware. They are well within your budget though. They may also have free temporary demos if I recall.
 

electricity17

Member
Messages
867
There's always the debate about hardware vs. software. For the really high-end guys, I think a lot of it's still very expensive hardware.

All I can say is that if you're going to put something on the master bus, it better sound really good (whether it's hardware or software). You can use something quirky/weird/noisey/whatever on a track here or there and it can be great, but that's probably not what you want on top of everything.
 
Messages
1,330
Years ago, I conducted my own exhaustive tests to determine whether or not the outboard parallel compression technique I described sounds good to my ears or not. I concluded that even the modest outboard gear I have in my studio does indeed give a slight edge in terms of realness and dynamics vs flatness and overall shape. This is my own conclusion, others can find their own. But after all, my described technique actually involves subtly mixing back in this now processed signal with the original two track signal, so there should be no worries about ruining the mix.

I'm that gathering that, in your opinions, none of the EQ's or compressors on the units in this price range are decent enough to tackle the job processing a mix buss. While I can see that may be true with some, I don't think that's true with all. Lots of units out there.

Perhaps I got off on the wrong foot by actually explaining what I planned to do with this piece of gear. Let's pretend that I never said any of that! :)

New question: What's your favorite front end channel strip under fifteen hundred dollars, that you've used, that has pre/EQ/compressor?
 

tribedescribe

Member
Messages
698
Personally I avoid eq on the master buss and let mastering take care of this. However I love ssl style mix bus compression. I would look for a tried and true vca 'ssl" style mix style bus compressor. Stam audio makes one for $690 and gets lots of love over at gearslutz.

http://www.stamaudio.com/sa-4000.html

If your really set on eq for the mastering bus I would check out the Kush clariphonic eq. If you could find one used it could fit your budget.

http://vintageking.com/kush-audio-u...NUpdpxLeDe_aLe5EWox8y91rsZXclcMWruRoCYDDw_wcB
 
Messages
1,330
This Drawmer 1960 is the closest thing I've found so far that fits what I'm looking for, even though the EQ section seems somewhat limited to only the aux input only? And it's over my budget really. Even has sidechain capabilities. I wasn't dead set on tube coloration for this application - in fact I was looking for the unit to be pretty clean and clear, but hey I always luvs me some good tube tone, that's for sure. I have an extensive vintage tube collection. I already use a Universal Audio 710 Twin with a vintage Blackburn Mullard 12AX7 in it and have a RODE K2 for tube-colored input.

I have some friends that really love their Drawmer stuff. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/1960
 
Messages
1,330
Personally I avoid eq on the master buss and let mastering take care of this. However I love ssl style mix bus compression. I would look for a tried and true vca 'ssl" style mix style bus compressor. Stam audio makes one for $690 and gets lots of love over at gearslutz.

http://www.stamaudio.com/sa-4000.html

If your really set on eq for the mastering bus I would check out the Kush clariphonic eq. If you could find one used it could fit your budget.

http://vintageking.com/kush-audio-u...NUpdpxLeDe_aLe5EWox8y91rsZXclcMWruRoCYDDw_wcB
I've used the G-series SSL consoles in larger studios and the master buss does indeed result in undeniable magic. A friend of mine built a clone of the G compressor a while back. Thanks for reminding me - I'll get in touch with him to see if he's still using it or what has become of it. Kush EQ looks very nice too.

I'm fully open to the idea that I'll need to compartmentalize and have separate units for compression, eq, and pre, it just seems like every day I see ads for a new product on the market that promises an all in one solution. Just gotta get real folks' recommendations before I'll bite!
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
This Drawmer 1960 is the closest thing I've found so far that fits what I'm looking for, even though the EQ section seems somewhat limited to only the aux input only? And it's over my budget really. Even has sidechain capabilities. I wasn't dead set on tube coloration for this application - in fact I was looking for the unit to be pretty clean and clear, but hey I always luvs me some good tube tone, that's for sure. I have an extensive vintage tube collection. I already use a Universal Audio 710 Twin with a vintage Blackburn Mullard 12AX7 in it and have a RODE K2 for tube-colored input.

I have some friends that really love their Drawmer stuff. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/1960
I have a 1968 that I like - it's usually on the 2-buss for every mix. A combination of that w/something like a pair of Speck ASC EQs might be within your price range, if you buy used.
 

electricity17

Member
Messages
867
I'm that gathering that, in your opinions, none of the EQ's or compressors on the units in this price range are decent enough to tackle the job processing a mix buss. While I can see that may be true with some, I don't think that's true with all. Lots of units out there.
?
I'm using the RJR compressor and EQ on the stereo bus of all my mixes, so hopefully I didn't give the impression that it wouldn't work for that. I think it competes with much more expensive units, for example, compare it the cost of a Dangerous Music Stereo Bax EQ.
 
Messages
1,330
Yeah I can't get over how awesome the RJR stuff looks. Couldn't be cooler. Upon quick research, I couldn't find a range of cost though - could be $4000 for all I know. I do see now however that the premade direct order BAX EQ's are right around $1500, is this correct? So theoretically, the VCA SSS V4 could be under $2000? I guess if it sounds as good as it looks, then it might totally be worth saving up for. The VCA BAX combo would certainly be ideal for what I'd like to do. Neat stuff.

I'm also very interested in the KUSH Clariphonic's easy peasy possible improvements to clarity and tightness, but then again I always seem to get bored with the simplest of "sonic maximizer" type tools that change the mix too much. Who knows tho - the demos I heard online sounded really great.

Great suggestions though everyone - thanks for your opinions.
 

JCM 800

Member
Messages
6,614
I suggest you skip looking for a channel strip and go for units that are designed to do the job you want. Get a great buss comp and EQ, these are going to be separate units to do the best job. Channel strips are designed to work best on the front end, not buss processing duties.
 






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