What is your favourite compressor?
A question I’ve been asked a few times and I always give the same answer “what is the audio source I’m compressing.” A question like this has so many variables. What am I trying to achieve with the compressor, what’s post and pre compressor and so on. So instead of asking what’s your favourite compressor let’s ask what’s your favourite compressor for a certain instrument or sound.
What is your favourite compressor on a drum bus?
Solid State Logic G Series. The glue. The king of drum bus compressors. The reason this is my go to drum bus compressor is simple. It’s perfect in every way. Even the lightest amount of compression will give your drum the control and punch required. Works as a great drum bus compressor for all genres of music. Drum and bass especially good with a quick attack.
What is your favourite compressor on a sub bass?
I personally love the Solid State Logic E Series channel strip EQ then compressor. I can obtain incredible control over the transients and drive the E Series eq black knob into the E Series compressor. There’s lots of great compressors for sub bass but for me the E Series channel strip takes it.
What is your favourite compressor on bass guitar?
Again I love using the SSL E Series on a bass guitar mainly because of the E Series EQ pre compressor. I think for this one though I’d happily swap out our E Series for the 1176. I would personally use it for every bass guitar but most styles of bass guitar playing sound great run through an 1176.
What is your favourite compressor on a vocal bus?
Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph compressor all day long. It’ll blow you away. I use ours on nearly all vocal mixes I do for clients and the singers come back saying how amazing they sound. The control you can achieve even at the highest amounts of gain reduction is incredible.
What is your favourite compressor on the master bus?
So many ill swap in and out depending on the track. As an overall mastering compressor that makes it into nearly all masters is the Maselec MLA 3 multiband compressor. One of the best compressors money can buy. 3 bands of pin point accurate compression. The glue that jells the whole master together. It’s a phenomenal piece of kit.
What is your favourite compressor on an electric guitar bus?
Hmm lets see. This one really depends on the guitars. I’d like to say a nice SSL 9000 series compressor. I love the SSL compressor channel strips we have here, pin point accuracy. The surgical compressor. I can get a great deal of control using the K series compressor. My go to compressor for a lot of live and electronic instruments.
What is your favourite compressor on percussion?
If the percussion is solo playing a bongo or conga loop for instance I’d probably say the G Series bus compressor. Applies great dynamics to percussion like this. If we’re talking tambourines or shakers I’d opt for our Elysia compressor. Find it is very smooth and will control high frequencies very well.
What is your favourite compressor to use with sidechain?
Oh definitely the SSL K Series. Awesome compressor to achieve a pulling pulsing movement effect on instruments.
What is your favourite compressor on a kick drum?
Live kick drum I’ll use an SSL E Series. Electronic kick drum I’ll happily use our Elysia compressor. Reason for this is the Elysia compressor is very detailed and has a lot of functionality that you can really get down to the fine detail of compressing a kick.
What is your favourite compressor to limit harsh frequencies?
Now this is easy. The best peak limiter money can buy the Maselec MPL 2. Not only does this limiter achieve all wonders of character, it will also tame high frequencies with pin point accuracy. A must have on your master bus.
What is your favourite compressor you don’t own?
Probably the Fairchild. Not even because I feel it’s a awesome compressor, it is though. It’s more finding one that’s in great condition and works like it was new. It’s going to set you back around £30,000+ though. I’d love to own one simply because of its heritage. I’d probably never use it.
What is your favourite compressor in the box?
So many to choose from. It would definitely be a UAD emulation of hardware though. Let’s see I’d have to say the SSL E Series channel strip. My reason for this is simply because I use the hardware so often I know it so well. By knowing it so well I’m able to use it in the box to its full potential. The E Series channel strip will work well with whatever audio source you throw at it.
Written By Paul Ashmore ( Audio Animals Mixing And Mastering Engineer )