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FMR Audio Really Nice Compressor RNC1773 Review

fmr really nice compressor
The Really Nice Compressor or RNC1773 from FMR Audio in Texas is just that, really nice. FMR has been making this little wonder for nearly 20 years and we can't believe we just got around to checking it out.

FMR's RNC1773 offers outstanding value in a 1/3 rack size and is the perfect form factor for a home studio and equally at home in a professional setting. Podcasters, producers, musicians and voice over artists can all benefit from this great sounding little box. It's an excellent compressor that controls dynamic sonic material in an effortless and transparent way.

If you own a Mackie mixer you'll especially love the ease of connecting the RNC to your mixer. 1 TRS cable per channel is all you need. We tested it with our trusty 1202VLZ Pro (we still prefer this vintage to the recent Mackie stuff) The RNC is a stereo compressor but there are no independent controls per channel. So it's very good for an overall sheen on a mix. We also like using it as an insert on our Mic channels. It's great for keeping our transients in check while recording in a very transparent way. You cannot hear the RNC working until you get really aggressive with the controls. It sounds really good because it's a really nice compressor. 

We played with the RNC in both regular and "Super Nice" mode, yes there's a "Super Nice" button, and it works great either way.  The controls work in both modes but "Super NIce" has the effect of multiple compressors in series which tends provide a more contained envelope of sound.  Again, there's no "right" way to use the RNC and we were able to get great results with and without "Super Nice" engaged. It could also be called the easy button. For voice over we liked having Super Nice mode engaged with the following settings: -5 threshold, 2:1 ratio, 3.5 attack, 1.0 release, with just a touch of output gain.

We prefer to do minimal processing as we lay down tracks into our DAW. However, it's very useful to have something like the RNC in the signal chain to prevent blowing out our levels in unintended ways. At a street price of $185, FMR's Really Nice Compressor packs outstanding value into its humble and we think beautiful test-bench-style casing. You will never regret owning one of these boxes and we love how the owners of FMR are still cranking these out in Texas after all these years.

Now you may be asking, well for a little over $200 I could pick up the dbx 286s which is a complete channel strip with mic preamp, compressor, gate and EQ/enhancing processing. Yes, you could and the 286 offers excellent value for the money. For many a podcaster that's a great unit where ease of use and the convenience of an all-in-one box is attractive and it's a fairly easy way to get that big radio sound.

However for a more transparent and musical approach we like the FMR RNC paired with a quality preamp. Our approach is the get the cleanest possible signal recorded without distortion and then do the rest of the magic in our DAW with plugins. The FMR RNC is fantastic for that.

See the full lineup of FMR Audio products here.

Great video and perspective from Steve Albini on recording with an RNC cameo

Simply Speakers Foam Speaker Repair Kit for JBL 4408a Monitor Review

JBL 4408A SURROUND

A lot of our production and broadcast friends have these JBLs 4408a monitors and a Hafler P3000 in the rack. Well the foam surrounds wear out over time on these suckers but it's an easy fix. Simply Speakers has foam surround kits they sell for about $25.  It's very easy to do and they've created one of the best instructional videos that make it easy to tackle if it's your first time repairing a speaker surround. We highly recommend these kits.  This is the kit we tested. 





Yamaha MSP5 Studio Monitor Review

YAMAHA MSP5

The MSP5 studio monitor from Yamaha has been around forever and we still think it's an excellent studio monitor that holds it own against current offerings. You can still find the MSP5 on Amazon and B&H for $279 each and if you track the price over time you can snag them on sale for $199 each. At $199 you can't beat these for value.

Yamaha initially rolled it's MSP line of studio monitors out over 10 years ago. The MSP5 and MSP7 were essentially the successors to the ubiquitous NS10s. The MSP5 are a powered 5-inch design that sit in in that sweet spot of not too big and not too small for the personal home studio or video editing suite. They have a tight controlled response with enough low end for critical monitoring even without a subwoofer. We rarely have a need to check our mixes on any other monitors as these translate very well. 

The Yamaha MSP5 is a really clean and precise monitor with almost no coloration. Mixes take more effort to dial in and sound good. The class A amps have great transient response and punchiness to them. We actually prefer these over the Genelec 8030s in that regard. You really notice when tracking instruments and with drum machines. The titanium tweeters are slightly bright but Yamaha provides a couple db of eq via switches on the back to boost or cut the high and low frequencies. We backed off the high-end just a touch. We mixed the same documentary in two edit suites. One was outfitted with Genelec 8030s and the other with MSP5s. There were no glaring differences in the mix that made us want to change anything. Genelec's auto on/standby feature is awesome along with excellent performance from class D amps with equals less power and less heat. The MSP5s hold their own very well in terms of sound quality, however they generate a little heat and you also have to toggle the power on the back of the unit, there is no auto on/off.  

The MSP5 is extremely well made and feels like a professional piece of gear, as it should. We love the fact that the low frequency driver has a heavy duty metal grille to protect it. The tweeter is also protected. The stereo image is beautiful and transparent. The class A amps to give off some heat but Yamaha designed a really elegant heat sink for the MSP5. We like the subtle green light in front that lets us know they're powered on and the volume control on the front is useful for slight adjustments when necessary. Generally we leave them at the nominal level. Overall, it's a beautiful and functional design that has aged extremely well. 

These monitors are perfect for a video editing suite. They're shielded and just the right size to place on a small platform next to your video monitor or mount on the wall. We really like these for editing dialog and even final mixdown for documentary and story telling where critical low frequency mixing is less of a factor.  

We found the noise floor whisper quiet, similar to the Genelecs and better than many class D offerings that sometimes have a significant noise floor when powered on such as the JBL 306MKIIs we reviewed a while back. We'd buy this decade old design over the brand new JBL any day. The MSP5 looks better, feels better and most importantly sounds more accurate. Notice we didn't say better. It takes more work on the MSP5 but the mixes translate well.

For many years we preferred using our passive JBLs and Hafler amp in a studio setting and sort of scoffed at powered monitors. All that changed with our first encounter with Genelecs. But quality is all over the map with powered monitors. The pro grade stuff from Genelec, KRK, JBL and Yamaha are all pretty good. We like the simple setup of going directly from the mixer to the monitor.

Genelec remains one of our favorites with a beautiful design and excellent power management. The class D amps give off very little heat and you never have to think about toggling them on and off. The automatic power of/off feature when audio signal is present works flawlessly. You can't go wrong with Genelecs. However, Genelecs cost significantly more than comparable monitors at any given size. Typically 2 to 3 times as much per monitor. Apples and Oranges to be sure but when budget matters the Genelec is a harder sell.

We would love to see Yamaha rethink it's studio monitor lineup and update the studio series with better power management, maybe class D amps, if they can dial in the same transient response and class AB sound. The HS series just looks and feels cheap like the JBL MKII series. We've been hearing that Yamaha has stopped making the MSP5, yet we still see plenty of stock at Amazon and B&H. We feel these monitors never got their moment in the in the sun and maybe a post Covid remix and relaunch is in order.  We hope we see another pro offering from Yamaha and the HS series is not a harbinger of the product roadmap.  

If you're in the market for studio monitors for your home studio, the MSP5 still offers outstanding value, one of the best values really, and we recommend getting a pair while you still can. Give them a few days in your studio and give your ears a chance to get used to them. You may just like what you hear and enjoy a classic before we're surrounded by a sea of lightweight, cheap feeling and less accurate nosense that looks and sounds like plastic.

Learn more about the MSP5 studio mointor

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