Abbey Road/EMI RS124 Compressor
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Considered a key part to the sound of the '60's, the RS124 compressor was introduced in 1960 and was in constant use at the studios throughout the decade. Modern updates possible in the software allows the RS124 plug-in to be the world's first dedicated dynamics LCR plug-in by stacking three units.
After installing in my Pro Tools rig I didn't let the "pinned" gain reduction meter on the GUI "scare" me when I first put this plug-in on a bass guitar track sorely in need of leveling. It sounds good set like this but, of course, if you are looking for something subtler, it can behave more conservatively.
Clicking on the AC mains fuse holder turns on SuperFuse mode--a turbo boost if I even heard one! I had to turn down the Output Attenuator knob as my bass track now sounds to me like I have my head inside one of the ten-inch speakers in the cabinet of a blasting Ampeg SVT bass amp. I might have found the perfect compressor for bass guitar where the sound depends greatly (apart from the Input Control setting like any other compressor) mostly on the Recovery setting--aka release time.
On drum over head mic tracks, I found when squeezing them with a pair of RS124s until the gain reduction meters read about mid-range, I added more attack and presence to the overall sound of the kit--particularly the toms and snare--but without jumping up the cymbal level too much. This is a testament to this plug-in's warm nature.
On electric rhythm guitar, I found when putting the Input Control to about 7.5 and Output at full, the compressor A/Bs (in and out of the signal path) at approximate matching levels. But when switched in, the sound becomes broader and thicker in spite of the gain reduction meter reading -18dB of compression!
An interesting (and as far as I know unique) feature is the Hold Recovery mode. Essentially this "freezes" the release time at the largest and last gain reduction value so that the RS124, when presented with the next re-attack of the source, does not emit a "pop" during the plug-in's fixed, slow attack time period.
For snare drum processing, this pop might be desired but not wanted for other sources like bass, vocals and guitars. It is a godsend for doing the big and beautiful squashes this plug is capable of. Hold also worked well on an erratic acoustic guitar track. Although normally, it's not my preference to squash acoustics this much, the RS 124 just works!
A wonderfully useful new tool for my Pop music mixing work, I highly recommend the RS124. It takes me directly to my memories of some of the sounds on many of the records I remember during the great British Invasion of the 1960's. The RS124 compressor plug-in for TDM ($560) and Native ($335) formats and Mac or PC operating systems is available to purchase exclusively from www.abbeyroadplugins.com.
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