I have something similar to this (Different brand name but looks like this) -oil-free, with a small tank, cost $99, that works well with a Paasche H. No need for anything bigger. The drawback is that it is very noisy, like a lawnmower without a muffler, but at least with an airbrush it doesn't run that much of the time. A minute of loud noise while it fills the tank, then stops for 5 minutes of airbrushing before the pressure goes down and it kicks in again. The one in the picture is sold at Home Depot for $99. http://www.homedepot.com/b/Tools-Air-Compressors-Tools-Accessories-...
My compressor - Spear & Jackson Project Air
Tank capacity: 21 litres
Working pressure: 115 psi (8 bar)
Free air delivery: 107 litres per minute
I also have an old Italian made Whisp-Aire that I got 25 years ago when I needed to work in the house without making a horrible noise. It uses a refrigerator compressor, so basically it just makes a quiet hum. It has a smaller tank, and less volume of airflow, but the same maximum pressure, so it works fine for airbrushing. Not so good for a smallish to medium size spray gun, I needed to stop spraying and let the pressure build back up quite often, but ok for the Paasche H. Can't find them for sale anymore, and it was quite expensive at close to $1000, but ideal if you are doing artwork in your apartment. There is probably something around now that uses the same sort of tech, and maybe cheaper, don't know. After 20 years the oil level got too low and it seized up, and I could not find the right oil to put in it, so I had to buy the Project Air one from Bunnings (our equivalent to Home Depot) to finish a job in a hurry. Since then I found some oil, opened it up and moved the bits, and got the Whisp-Aire going again. But mostly I'm using the noisy $99 one since my studio is a separate building.
The one thing I do recommend is to get a model with a tank. There are very small diaphragm type compressors which do work for airbrushing, just barely, but with the air delivered directly there is a pulsing to it. I used to have one of those. The tank gives you some reserve, and smoothes it out.
This looks much the same as my old Whisp-Aire, with the same dome cover and fridge motor and compressor. Also priced at US $869 which is also similar I'm afraid. http://artsupplysource.com/silentaire-sil-air-50-15-air-compressor/
I've been doing some research on the two options you mentioned. The Sil-Air above is probably the best bet but still a bit large for my apartment (I only have 400 square feet) and it's quite a bit above my budget. Perhaps a 1 or 2 gallon version would be better and cheaper.
I was looking at the Sparmax TC-620x. It has a tank also and runs about 250 USD. It looks to be enough for my purposes and can easily tuck away under my work bench.
I may settle for the Sparmax TC but admire the tank capacity on the Sil-Air. At least the Sparmax TC is quiet also at about 55 decibels.
Thanks for the input. . .
SilentAir do make models with smaller tanks, like 1.5 gallons (6 litres), but the price doesn't seem to get any smaller. And that 6 litre one, with the tank to one side of the compressor, takes up more floor space than the 4 gallon/15 litre model.
The Sparmax looks like it might be a diaphragm type compressor, similar to the little one I first started with, except that it does have a small tank. And that should make a difference. Not quite as quiet as the refrigerator type compressors, but not really loud either.
The little one I had looked a lot like this, except it didn't have a tank:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Air-Compressor-1-6HP-Pressure-Regulator-... (in Australia, because that's what comes up when I google.)
As I said, it worked, but barely. I would have liked more pressure, especially for thicker or coarser paint like the matte wall paint I use for sets, or paint with Pros-Aide mixed in. It was ok for inks and watercolours, or diluted Humbrol model enamel. I fitted a moisture trap to it, like this one has on the left, because without that, water would condense and every so often come down the hose and spit out of the airbrush and onto my artwork. With this one it says that the working pressure is 58psi (4 bar) which is probably what mine was. That's half as much as my current compressors. I would check the specs on the Sparmax - seems to do 60psi, which is not much better than 58psi.
This one is the same type I think, but a dual pump, which it says gets up to 7 bar, so very close to 8 bar. $199 on eBay USA. http://www.ebay.com/itm/750W-30L-Portable-oil-free-compact-750W-30-...
A bigger 30 litre tank, so it does take up more space.
Here's one that does 90 psi, and costs $123.75 -
1 gallon tank, 56 decibels. Doesn't look like a dual, but seems to manage a decent pressure.
I think, if you eliminate the loud ones because they are unsuitable for use in an apartment, and you eliminate the fridge-type ones because they cost a lot more, one of this type, with a tank and decent pressure, seems to be the best option. I don't think a psi of 58 or 60 is quite enough for all paints.
i am using this one ebay airbrush comrpressor 1.6 hp which is pretty much the first one nick mentioned in his post. It is reasonably silent and works perfectly with a paache. However if you need to spray larger areas then you should go fir a bigger one.