Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

ART MDM-8L: I'm only reviewing this because I happen to have it around; it's not something you'd use in an onstage rig. This is a rackmount analog limiter with eight completely independant channels. It was intended for use in multitrack recording, but it would also be well suited to a PA system.
 
Each channel has its own in/outputs and controls, and can be stereo linked with an adjacent channel. There is both a compressor circuit and a peak limiter per channel, but the only controls are input gain and output level. All of the other compression parameters (attack, ratio, etc.) are either preset or "program dependant", automatically varying based on the signal coming in. The comp ratio is low, around 3:1. The limiter circuit automatically engages at a few dB higher than the compression, for the most natural results. The "MDM mode" switch sets all of the output levels to the same setting.
 
This is a very quiet and clean processor, with natural smooth action and few artifacts. The tone is mostly transparent. During strong/heavy limiting the highs can seem dull or dark, and the lows are held back, but otherwise they are not rolled off. As with most two-knob comps and program-dependent systems, it can't be expected to handle every crazy signal or special requirement equally well, but as a general-purpose compromise it is effective.
 
The in/outputs are balanced TRS jacks. You can connect unbalanced gear to them, but it will not work well to plug your bass/guitar straight in. The operating levels can be switched between -10 and +4 dBu. Each channel has its own bypass button, which is probably not "true bypass" but works well. It uses a standard IEC cord for power.
 
Price in USD: well, it has been discontinued for many years, and they rarely show up used. I would not pay more than $100 for one in typical used condition from an average seller.
 

 

 
 
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