I have an Apogee Trak-2, Rosetta 800, matched pair of Neuman TLM103's, Mackie 1604VLZPRO (just for monitoring, not for much else), ADAMS-P11 monitors, and DP on a mac as my DAW.
I am at the end of an almost three year cycle of putting together my own home recording studio, and as soon as I pay-off this last round of gear I will be looking at finally getting a high quality compressor.
I will need to use it for both tracking and for mixing (and to be completely honest, self-mastering until I can afford to take it somewhere real...), so something that was flexible colour-wise would be a real benefit...I do mostly acoustic, folk instruments myself (winds and strings), but my fiancee is a singer and vocals truly need to be considered, as well...:-)
I was going to get a Manley "Vari-Mu" pretty much based on the reputation alone (something with tubes to compliment the Trak-2), but after scouring the web for the past few days it seems like I may be limited by the lack of being able to change the colour of the unit, especially since I will need to both track and mix with it. In addition, most mentions of it don't say whether or not it is ideally suited to accoustic material. (This may or may not be relevant, I just don't know but I mention it here, none the less).
I then looked to the Crane Song "STC-8" and I must say it seems like it would suite my needs pretty well: All Class A, musical, clean compression, and most interesting to me is the ability to add colour to it via the harmonic saturation pathway (tube qualities to compliment the Trak-2). All of the reviews That I found touch on this and say that it is like having many compressors in one...It seems like even though it is obviously aimed at mastering, it should also be good for tracking, as well?...It is expensive, but at this point if it will fulfill all of my needs then I can accept the higher price. The only negative things I have heard about it is that it isn't cheap, and that you can't be too agressive with the compression or it is not so happy. However, I am doing folk instruments, vocals and some hand drums, so how much will this affect me?...(the proverbial grain of salt here?).
The last contender here is the "Distresser" by Empirical Labs. It has a great reputation as a good compressor, and it also has the harmonic warmth/fat thing going on, as well. I don't wish to be provocative, but how does it stand up to the Crane Song STC-8?...(I am not sure if the Distresser is all class A, and if not how important is this)?
So, I guess what I am asking is between these three, which would be the best choice for my first (and for while, my only) real compressor? If you could only choose one of these, which would cover the most ground for the money spent (keeping in mind that at this level of gear I am sure it is hard to lose...)!
I'd love to hear anyones thoughts, suggestions, and/or experiences with any of these units and I thank you for your time.
I hope all is well, cheers.