We’ve recently been allowed access to the two new control rooms on campus each boasting a large and fairly complex (for my standards) console. I figured it’d be a good idea to start researching some of the rack gear in each room so I have the confidence to use it while tracking as opposed opposed to during mixdown.
AUDIENT SURFACE PRO 8024
WARM AUDIO WA76 PEAK LIMITER
Based on the Universal Recording Electronics Industries (UREI) 1176 Peak Limiting Amplifier, the first true peak limiter (1967), which is one of the most replicated pieces of gear in history. Features compression ratios of 4, 8, 12, and 20 and an “all buttons in” mode which mimics the undocumented feature of the original limiter. All buttons in does not increase the ratio but rather messes with the bias of the FET circuitry and sounds great in situations where distortion is wanted. Good for tracking through, although it has its uses in mixes if you’re comfortable with printing tracks to make up for the fact that Pro Tools comes with BF76 a software plugin clone which can be applied to as many tracks as needed.
ART PRO VLA 2 COMPRESSOR
A Vactrol based Optical Compressor. Less character than a typical optical compressor which could be due to the vactrol gain control element which varies from the types of most vintage optical compressors (which used discrete lamps and photocells), the soft knee which applies the compression more gently at first, or other typical features of a compressor that cause it to impart “colour” to a signal. Slamming it (~15dB gain reduction or more) can get the circuitry going and start to change your signal, so if that’s what you’re after you may end up with a fairly compressed sound.
DBX 266XL COMPRESSOR
A 2 channel compressor/gate, where the gate features a variable ratio allowing it to function as an expander as well. The compression stage is modeled on the famous dbx 160 and features an auto attack/release setting that is intended to impart the “dbx sound” (this may have something to do with the fact that dbx is known for producing VCA compressors which have a distinct characteristic as opposed to being completely transparent). The compressor features a 1:1 ratio for a similar purpose, and is probably more of a colour box than an all rounder (using it on more complex signals like a 2 track mix or complete drum kit can cause unwanted pumping and fluttering).
UNIVERSAL AUDIO 2-610
This is the dual channel version of the UA Solo 610. Features high and low shelving EQ’s, as well as a DI on each channel for ease of of use. Has a lot of character, which is to be expected of tube style inputs, but these are based on the legendary UA 610 modular console which has already secured itself a large slice of musical history. Great for drums, acoustic guitar, vocals and basically anything that favours tube style inputs.