Monday, November 29, 2010

RMS755 Super Stereo Compressor from Roll Music Systems

Looking for your first piece of analog gear?  Tired of the brittle sound digital mix bus compressors provide over your mix downs?  An affordable & high quality stereo mix-bus compressor might be your ticket to turning your lifeless digital mixes into something quite fantastic.

When you're entering the professional analog audio market it's important that you focus on a few key properties of gear.  First and foremost is quality.  If you buy cheap/budget analog audio equipment you'll find yourself with worse results sonically than the digital domain can achieve with a few solid plug-ins.  There's no sense in throwing money away and buying budget/cheaper gear is throwing your money away.  You used to be able to get away with sending crumby sounding demos off to labels & agencies, but this however is no longer the case.  The music you send off to; blogs, labels, agencies & nightclubs essentially now needs to be top notch and distribution ready.  Why not spend a little cheddar on a piece of analog gear that can help to make your music stand out from the rest.  The RMS755 Super Stereo Compressor can be that piece of gear without breaking the bank.

The first thing you'll notice is the no frills design approach behind the RMS755.  There's no gates or side-chain triggers on this specimen.  This stereo compressor isn't designed for those types of tricks, it's for mix-bus compression and while it can be used on other things like a vocals or guitar, it has been designed to work on the program heavy mix-bus and it's been designed to do this job with the utmost clarity & versatility.  From what I've read and researched everyone that owns one of these reveres it for it's well roundness.  In fact many owners say it's hands down the most versatile stereo mix compressor they've ever used.  Of course these are all opinions but, they're opinions professional people have voiced which lends them some extra merit.  Certain tools are great for specific things but, when you're on a budget and looking to sound great it's important to invest in quality analog tools that can work magic on a wide range of source material.

 The RMS755's Controls

There's no newfangled knobs or features on this stereo mix analog compressor.  The RMS755 is down right simple, however it does have it's own little traits that I'll highlight during the remainder of this post.  These next few paragraphs will read informatively for those of you new to the audio world & compression, it will also certainly appeal to those of you with a little more experience looking into purchasing the RMS755.  First is the threshold control on the RMS755.  There's nothing tricky about this knob, set it and that will be the dB level that compression sets in.  On the RMS755 the exact threshold level will vary a tad based on the settings of the other compression settings, specifically the ratio. (more on this below)  After the threshold knob you've got a high-pass filter factory set at 150hz that's engaged by a push-button switch.  This feature can help to alleviate "pumping" when working on exaggerated low end material as it rolls frequencies below 150hz out of your mixes, heavy pumping & breathing can be rather destructive to certain styles of music.

The next control to the right on the RMS755 is the ratio of compression.  On the RMS755 you have the option of engaging 4 factory set ratios; 1.5:1, 2:1, 4:1 & 10:1.  When you make an adjustment to the ratio setting the threshold level of the RMS755 will also adjust to even out the amount of gain reduction.  This allows you to hear the sonic difference between each ratio without compromising gain which is considered by some to be a much more efficient way of applying compression.

The attack time control is a 10 position rotary switch measured in milliseconds.  A quicker attack time will often reduce transients while a longer attack time will make it possible for more transients to pass through the compressor after gain reduction.  Remember this as it will be a key thing to know whenever you're working with compression.  If you have a quick attack the compressor can't react to transients whilst accurately compress them.  If the attack time is slower the compressor will be able to handle & process these transients thereby bringing them more in line with the rest of your source material.

The release time rotary switch is also a 10 position stepped control.  These controls are measured in milliseconds as well and have 10 factory set release times. However, you'll notice just right of the release time pot a switch labeled PDR.  This switch engages a uniquely sounding & intelligent dual release characteristic based on the material you're processing with the RMS755.  Roll Music's PDR or Program Dependent Release feature is a dual release that is essentially aware of the material you're processing with the RMS755.  Essentially this provides a slower release for those times when you're material is blasting above the threshold level for long periods of time, if you're only dealing with quick transients that rise above the threshold level momentarily the release time will be shorter.

As you should know when you compress something you're effectively reducing the overall gain of the material being compressed.  Because of this mostly all compressors (with the exception of opto-compressors) have a make-up gain control.  The range of make-up gain on the RMS755 is -14dB to +20dB.  Remember that make-up gain controls are independent of the gain-reduction/compression circuitry so it is possible to clip the output by cranking the make-up gain.  The bypass switch on the RMS755 is a push button true hard-wire bypass.  This means that once the bypass circuitry is engaged there is no active circuitry in the

Hopefully this little run down of the RMS755 was not only helpful in learning more about Roll Music's Super Stereo Compressor but also a helpful little blurb those looking to learn a little more about compression controls.  If you're interested in learning more about Roll Music Systems & the other products they offer be sure to give their website a visit & add them on Facebook!

PS: Expect a post & review on Roll Music's Fulcrum Summing Mixer in the future as I will likely be purchasing one for my project studio.



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