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A simplified and more accessible version of the Mastering Compressor's VCA section. A ‘Voltage Controlled Amplifier’ tends to offer the most aggressive gain reduction, which makes it a good choice if you’re trying to keep in check any loud transients or spikes in volume. Most audio compressors operate using either VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplitude), FET (Field-effect Transistor), OPTO (Optical), or VARI-MU (Variable-MU). Kieran is a producer based in Manchester. If you’ve ever seen a ‘Peak’ and ‘RMS’ option in your DAW, think of an Opto as a compressor that reacts best to an RMS signal. Not only a mastering engineer's dream, but it's amazing on the mix buss when transparency is important. Ever wonder what exactly a VCA compressor does? Analogue Obsession’s Fetish is a FET style compressor, with a super fast attack time. Designed and built by audio genius Jeff Turzo, a man responsible for countless high-end custom gear building projects for top producers. - @_madebypet, We're loving the symmetry in this sleek set up fro, 10 Best Mini Distortion Pedals (That Money Can Buy In 2020), I Enrolled At Point Blank Music School (Here’s My Review), 6 Of The Best Audio Interfaces For Beginners (2020), Fusing Sound Design & Architectural Principles (Interview With Ténèbre), Empowering Communities Through Knowledge Sharing (Interview With Stranjah), It’s All In The Details (An Interview With Objectiv), 11 Organizations Making A Difference To Music & Mental Health. Depending on the level of the signal, an internal light bulb will start to glow getting lighter with the more signal it receives. Smart Research C1LA: Technically a VCA isn’t actually an amplifier, rather it uses an attenuator to reduce the volume when it’s fed a certain level of voltage. In simple terms, that's how the gain reduction takes place in a VCA compressor; a control signal which you dial in using the different front panel controls like Threshold, Attack, Ratio and Release, tell the VCA circuit in the compressor when to start turning the signal down, how fast to do it, how much to do it, and how long it should take for the signal volume to return to normal. The VCA compressor offers several advantages that the others on this list don’t. The secret weapon of a handful of rock mixers we know, it gives you air, punch and presence, but has a little more chilled out and natural sonic character than the originals. Many people think it's tube-based, but it's all Class A/B discrete solid state with hand built circuitry of the highest grade. API 2500: If you’re thinking of investing your money into 1 compressor for your mix bus, then a stereo VCA compressor is a smart choice since it covers a lot of different ground. Inspired by the Oxford, England originators of this compressor style, it brings its own set of tricks to the party with its super punchy and crazy "Crush" feature and more adjustability than the originals. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Hand-made in Germany with a complete "cut-no-corners" philosophy, this is as good as it gets in terms of transparency, detail, refinement and musicality. Because of this, an Opto compressor works off the average signal being received. If you’re just learning the basics of compression then don’t get too bogged down in the finer points of each compressor, but try to bear in mind the sound you’re going for or the instrument you are recording. Literally none. It’s also compatible  up to a sample rate of 192khz. Dangerous Compressor: You don't hear that said often do you? VCA Compressor. The Acustica TAN is a free VCA style compressor with an easy to use interface. 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The Blockfish Channel Compressorcomes with an Opto and VCA function, which is great if you are just starting out and want to A/B the two to hear the difference. Check out the Joe Meek range of Opto compressors. Even if it doesn’t sound great then it’ll give you a better insight into what compressor suits what job. Tropical studio vibes with @paradisestudiosuk and, Evening sessions with @iampaulkalkbrenner , Only the most high-tier spaces at @larrabeestudios, Beautiful studio space. The grand master of VCA compressors. Each has different characteristics due to the way their gain reduction circuits react to the signal being passed through them. Dramastic Obsidian Stereo Compressor: FET, VCA, Optical, and Variable-Mu are 4 classifications of audio compressors. All rights reserved. Best VCA Compressor Plugins (Our Picks) SSL G Channel Strip – Get it at Waves (Usually $249, on limited sale for $29.50) The SSL G Channel Strip is modeled on the classic Solid State Logic SL 4000 console. This is as close to rock 'n' roll in a box as your stereo mix will ever see. It has really easy to use Vintage Opto and Electro compression modes which give an added warmth to your vocals or instruments. Opto compressors can really add an element of colouring to your sound as well. Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph: For assistance in better understanding the content of this page or any other page within this website, please call 888.653.1184 during normal business hours. By learning to differentiate these circuit types, you will gain far more control over your mixes. This beast is two compressors in one! FETs themselves give a really punchy tone and sound great across the board whether it’s drums, vocals or guitars you’re recording so it’s no surprise to see at least one in most pro studios! The API sound never fails to excite and this is no exception. Its design is easy to understand and once you’re used to it you can take the front plate and make your own adjustments to its circuit board. Compression nowadays is almost an instrument in itself. Whether it is recording, mixing or mastering, VCA compressor gets the job done in every area of audio production. Use the three switchable output transformer options to adjust the units color from clean (Nickel), to Neve-like (Iron), to API-Like (Steel). He has written, produced and recorded for BBC Radio, mixed tracks from Kendall Calling Festival and worked on broadcast sessions for national TV. This type of compression relies on the tubes themselves to control the gain reduction and therefore the process tends to be quite smooth. Dramastic Obsidian 500: (Audio Compression Explained) – Producer Hive, Slate Digital Release Brand New Free Plugin ‘’Fresh Air’’. It gives a warm sound whilst keeping vocals and drums punchy. Kieran is also a guitarist and has performed across the UK. The classic English-style VCA buss compressor that you have heard on hundreds of hit records. Great for intense pumping effects but also with the ability for subtle and gentle compression, this is a great addition to any engineers collection of plug ins! This filter imbues each octave with equal energy, instead of half the energy as the next lowest one. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. You wouldn’t get a great result trying to control short, sharp transients in the same way you would with a VCA for example, but you would be able to create a smooth compression at much higher ratios. Classic Oxford, England style VCA compressor but with a decidedly more organic sound to it. Your email address will not be published. For starters, hardware VCA compressors don’t require the pricey discrete components needed by other compressors and are normally more affordable as a result. now you can have one of his "secret weapon" designs at an accessible price point, but with no sacrifice in audio quality. A simple way of thinking about a Variable Mu is that the louder the signal, the more compression the unit will add. Vintage King's Los Angeles and Nashville showrooms are available for curbside pickups. A proprietary discrete VCA module powers this gentle giant. VCAs are generally suited to your workflow if you’re trying to tame any intense peaks in your track due to its snappy response,  however, it won’t be as suited to averaging out the level of a song as a Variable-Mu or Optical. Meek himself was a pioneer of using compression as an ‘effect’, and aside from having a very colourful history himself, produced some great pieces of gear. A variable Mu (or tube) compressor is one of the oldest types of compressor. What Is Variable Mu Compression Good For? The smoother reaction creates a much more pleasant sound as the signal won’t be dramatically squashed. Many people think it's tube-based, but it's all Class A/B discrete solid state with hand built circuitry of the highest grade. An Optical Compressor (or Opto-Compressor) uses a light source to control how much gain reduction is applied. 500 Series saves space, and in this case, money! The Waves Renaissance Compressor is a smooth all-rounder. Vertigo VSC-2: It’s intuitive controls mean it’s also great for sidechaining and parallel compression. A stereo optical compressor followed by a discrete stereo VCA compressor so that you can truly tackle any task from recording any source to making your mix buss snap with this single machine. It also includes EQ controls, try using some of their presets to start with and tweak from there. 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