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Table of Contents Table of Contents 1 Introduction
1.1 What Is a Compressor?
1.1.1 Main Compression Parameters
1.1.2 Other Compression Parameters and Features
1.2 The VC 76, VC 2A, and VC 160
2 Using the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS
2.1 Loading the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS
2.2 VINTAGE COMPRESSORS Interfaces and Controls
2.2.1 VC 76 Interface and Controls
2.2.2 VC 2A Interface and Controls
2.2.3 VC 160 Interface and Controls
2.3 Using the Side Chain Input
2.3.1 GUITAR RIG as Stand-Alone Application
2.3.2 GUITAR RIG as Plug-In
1 Introduction VINTAGE COMPRESSORS brings three of the most renowned compressor units from the history of music into the Rack of GUITAR RIG 4. The VC 76, VC 2A and VC 160 perfectly recreate the sonic character of their ancestors. Each has its own unmistakable sound and
excels in particular fields:
▪ With its bright and punchy sound, the VC 76 is especially great on vocals and drums, with a clear and powerful presence that lets them cut through your mix.
▪ With its smooth and warm sound, the VC 2A achieves outstanding results on guitars, bass, and vocals, whose quieter parts can be softly pushed in a very natural way.
▪ With its bold and dirty sound, the VC 160 is perfectly suited for drums, adding a defin itive “thwack” or “knock” to even the dullest kick and snare. It can as well rescue your bass sound by giving it an additional attack and a dirty, underground edge.
1.1 What Is a Compressor?
Technically speaking, a compressor is an audio processing unit that reduces the dynamic range of an incoming signal, i.e. reduces the level difference between the signal's quiet and loud sections. This way, it can help to increase the perceived loudness of a signal and attract the listener's attention.
For many studio and live music applications, the usage of compressors is inevitable: they let you "glue" the individual instruments of an instrument group together and make them "sit" in the mix more naturally, which is particularly helpful when mixing drum recordings.
Compression can also stretch the decay phase of instruments, mostly drums, and add sus tain to the tone of electric guitars.
However, compression can be used for a wide range of applications. Here are a just few
▪ Electric guitars and basses: Compression is applied to picked string instruments in or der to smooth the varying intensity of the individual strokes, thus increasing the per ceived overall level. At extreme settings, you can get a “wall-of-sound” effect!
▪ Drums: Adding compression to a bass drum or snare track will add punch and help de fine its sound in your mix.
▪ Vocals: Adding compression to vocals can make them sound more balanced by leveling the soft and loud sounds in the voice.
▪ Mixing/pre-mastering: A slight compression applied to the overall mix (or some specific subgroups) can add cohesion between the various instruments.
Using compression is a fine art: You can easily destroy your sound if you don’t carefully set the compression parameters! For each purpose, specific settings are required. A good un derstanding of each parameter’s effect, together with experience gained by using the com pressor, will allow you to achieve great results!
In addition to the above listed common applications there is room for your own experi ments, so feel free to use your compressor in a way not listed here.
1.1.1 Main Compression Parameters Compression can be controlled by several parameters. The most important parameters are
▪ The threshold defines the audio level above which compression takes place. Below this threshold level, the incoming signal is left untouched; above this threshold level, the gain of the incoming signal is attenuated.
▪ You can choose how much attenuation is applied to the signal by defining an input/ output ratio. For example, when you select a ratio of 2:1, an input level that is 2 dB above the threshold will create an output level that is only 1 dB above the threshold.
By setting an extreme compression ratio, you can practically prevent the signal from exceed ing the threshold level. The compressor then acts as a limiter.
▪ Since the compression attenuates the higher levels of your input signal, most compres sors allow you to add a fixed make-up gain to the output in order to counterbalance the loss of level.
1.1.2 Other Compression Parameters and Features The compression process can be further tuned by using additional parameters and fea tures.
Attack and Release The attack time can define how long it takes for the compressor to come into full effect when the threshold level is reached. For example, a longer attack time can be useful to retain the attack transients on a percussive or plucked string instrument in order to only compress the instrument sound coming after the transients. For this, you could also make use of parallel compression (see below).
Similarly, the release time can define how long it takes for the active compressor to return to its standby state after the signal level has fallen below the threshold level.
The right settings for attack and release time strongly depend on both the current purpose of the compression and the kind of instrument that you are working on!
Side Chain Input Every compressor uses a detector to decide when to kick in. This detector listens to a con trol signal and activates the compressor when needed.
Usually, the detector listens to the input signal itself and activates the compressor when ever the level of the input signal exceeds the selected threshold.
A side chain input, on the contrary, allows you to feed the detector with another signal (e.g.
another track in your mix). In this setup, compression is applied according to the level of the other signal. This greatly widens the versatility of your compressor.
Typically the side chain input is fed by the bass drum track as a control signal to trigger the compressor on the bass guitar track. Another example is the “auto talk over” feature found on several mixers, which automatically attenuates the level of the music as soon as you talk into the microphone.
Parallel Compression Sometimes you may want to keep the original signal and blend it with the compressed sig nal. Setting up a signal path for parallel compression can help retain some of the sonic characteristics of your original instrument (mainly the transients) when a signal is heavily compressed and in need of some top-end sparkle.
1.2 The VC 76, VC 2A, and VC 160 The VINTAGE COMPRESSORS are inspired by three of the most sought-after compression units ever made. Each of them faithfully reproduces the characteristics and features of its highly prestigious hardware ancestor.
VC 76 Initially released in the mid-1960s, the VC 76’s forerunner was the first peak limiter with all solid-state circuitry. In particular, the gain reduction was controlled by a field-effect transistor used as a variable resistor. The unit’s extremely short attack and release times, coupled with its signature sound, made it the choice compressor in countless situations— some would describe it as THE definitive compressor!
The VC 76 notably provides you with the distinctive “All-Button” mode producing a very unusual compression, as well as the “No-Button” mode giving your sound the unit’s color ing without applying any compression.
VC 2A Originally produced in the early 1960s, the VC 2A’s forerunner is a tube-based compressor still being used in the best recording studios worldwide. Its revolutionary design, making use of an electro-luminescent optical gain reduction system, played an important role in its transparent compression characteristics. This, along with the analog circuitry, helped coin the unit’s trademark character whose soft coloring is still treasured among musicians and sound engineers.
The VC 2A provides you with the same incredibly simple interface, which mainly relies on two knobs. You won’t find any Attack nor Release control here, since these were deter mined by the analog hardware components used in the unit.
VC 160 Originally produced in the mid-1970s, the VC 160’s forerunner is still being used in nu merous recording studios worldwide. Its circuit design includes some features quite unique at the time of its introduction. Firstly, the true RMS level detection provided a much closer behavior to the human ear than the usual peak detection found in other com pressors. Secondly, the feed-forward gain reduction allowed both extreme ratio settings (virtually up to infinite compression!) and input signal tracking in order to determine the adequate attack and release times.
The VC 160 provides you with the same simple interface, which mainly relies on three knobs. You won’t find any Attack nor Release control here, since these were automatically determined by the feed-forward gain reduction stage.
Additional Features Bringing vintage hardware into the software world allowed us to add a few great features, which are now available in the expert panel of the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS. For exam ple, unlike their ancestors, the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS offer both a side chain input and parallel compression. And, of course, as with any Component in GUITAR RIG 4, you can save and recall presets for your favorite settings.
2 Using the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS This section describes how to use the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS.
2.1 Loading the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS Once installed, the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS are found in the Component Pool in the SideKick.
To load any of the VINTAGE COMPRESSORS:
1. Click the Components button at the top of the SideKick (the left column in GUITAR RIG’s window) to display the Component Pool.
2. Find the desired compressor (VC 76, VC 2A or VC 160) in the Pool, whether under the DYNAMICS category (if components are currently listed by categories) or under its own product name (if components are currently listed by products).
3. Double-click the desired component or drag and drop it onto the Rack to load it.
Sound Settings Here are a few things you should be aware of when using VC 2A in Guitar Rig.
▪ Please beware by default the input routing of Guitar Rig is set to mono. To activate stereo input switch on the right channel by clicking on R in the Guitar Rig Global Head er.
▪ By default the Guitar Rig gate is set to on. To deactivate the gate click the Guitar Rig Gate button in the Global Header.
▪ Due to the internal processing of the VC 2A, the HI (High Quality Mode) button does not affect the overall output. To reserve CPU power we recommend you deactivate High Quality Mode.
The Guitar Rig Global Header 2.2 VINTAGE COMPRESSORS Interfaces and Controls This section describes all control elements found in the user interfaces of the VINTAGE
2.2.1 VC 76 Interface and Controls This section describes the VC 76’s interface and controls in detail.
The VC 76 user interface (1) INPUT knob: Adjusts both the input level and the threshold simultaneously. Turning this knob clockwise will result in more compression.
(2) OUTPUT knob: Adjusts the make-up gain. This allows you to offset the overall output level once you have set the desired compression.
(3) ATTACK knob: Adjusts the attack time of the compressor, i.e. the time it takes for the compressor to come into full effect once the threshold level has been reached.
(4) RELEASE knob: Adjusts the release time of the compressor, i.e. the time it takes for the compressor to get back to its standby state after the signal level has fallen below the threshold level.
(5) RATIO slider: Selects the compression ratio. This directly affects how much gain reduc tion is applied to the input signal. Following ratios are available: 1:1 (1), 4:1 (4), 8:1 (8), 12:1 (12), and 20:1 (20):
▪ The ratio 4:1 (4) generates a moderate compression.
▪ The ratio 8:1 (8) generates a severe compression.
▪ With the ratios 12:1 (12) and especially 20:1 (20) the compressor tends to behave like a limiter.