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Compressors, Limiters and Gates

What is a Compressor?
OK, Imagine you had a vocalist who would whisper words quietly and then belt out some loud screams.  You,  the engineer, has to record such a take. You find the whispers are too quiet unless you boost the fader and the screams require you to quickly lower the fader so you don't overload the recorder. That is the time-honored technique called "riding the gain" (gain is another word for volume).  A compressor is an audio circuit that automatically rides the gain. It pumps up the volume when things get quiet and slams down the peaks when they get loud. The goal of the compressor is to achieve a more uniform, more consistent audio signal that is optimum for recording and listening. 

How does it Connect to My Studio?

There are 3 places where a compressor can be advantageously connected.

1. On Mixer channel Inserts.  Here the signal goes out of a single channel, gets processed, and goes back to that channel.

2. In between a sub out bus on the mixer and audio interface.  This way anything going out the bus gets processed.  This way is very flexible as it allows you to use your compressor both during recording and mixdown and you can select any number of channels to be processed.

3. After the Mic preamp and before the audio interface.  For those going mixerless, this is the way it is done.  You go form the preamp line outs to the compressor line ins, then from the compressor line outs to the audio interface line ins. If your mic preamp has inserts (not all do) you can use that.



Classic Compressors for your studio

ART Pro VLAII 2-Channel Compressor
The ART Pro-VLA II is a tube driven Vactrol-based Compressor and Leveling amplifier designed to excel in any professional audio application, including tracking, mixing, mastering, live sound or broadcast situations.

Universal Audio LA2A Classic Leveling Amplifier
Universal Audio now announces the rebirth of the Teletronix LA-2A, a Universal Audio Classics product. Painstaking care has been taken to ensure that every new LA-2A provides the performance and characteristics of the original. Each unit is hand built, each component carefully evaluated for authenticity. No expense has been spared to guarantee that this LA-2A will bring that classic sound to your recording. Demand the original. Accept no copy.

Avalon VT747SP Class A Tube Stereo Compressor/Equalizer
The Avalon VT-747SP combines a creative STEREO tube-discrete Class A spectral-opto-compressor with a musical six band program equalizer, L-R output level and gain reduction metering and internal regulated power supplies in a 2U space. Ideal for high performance DAW input signal conditioning, stereo buss compression-EQ, stereo keyboards and analog mastering applications.

Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor
The Distressor electronically controls the volume of just about any source in a very pleasing, and "musical" manner - adding fullness, intelligibility, and especially in the Distressor's case - excitement

Universal Audio 2-1176 Twin Vintage Limiting Amplifier
Finally, a true stereo 1176! With over 2000 units already sold to date since the year 2000 re-birth of Universal Audio's 1176LN, it is clear the public's love affair with the legendary sound of the 1176 is still as passionate as ever.





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