Buzz Audio has announced that it is shipping the SOC-M, a version of the SOC-20 optical compressor optimized for mastering applications. Among other adjustments, the SOC-M features stepped controls for gain and drive.
Buzz Audio has made a name for itself in the worlds of mixing and mastering with units like the DBC-M, a diode bridge mastering compressor. The SOC-20 is dual-channel optical compressor with M/S processing. With the SOC-M, the company is now offering a version of the SOC-20 optimized for mastering.
Mastering engineers will especially like the fact that Buzz Audio has replaced the drive and gain pots with stepped Elma attenuators. This is critical for mastering applications, as it allows for the exact reproduction of settings. The company says that it has also adjusted the ratios for mastering tasks. On the SOC-M, the five selectable ratio settings range from 2:1 to 10:1, as opposed to 2:10 to 20:1 on the SOC-20. All of the ratios feature a soft-knee characteristic. According to Buzz Audio, the selected ratio is only actually achieved at 10dB of gain reduction. This means that the SOC-M should be capable of some very gentle, musical compression.
Like the SOC-20, the SOC-M utilizes discrete BE41 transistor amplifiers, and a Lundahl LL1517 output transformer. Other features carried over from the SOC-20 include mid/side processing, a balanced side chain insert point, and a 12dB/oct high-pass filter at 170 Hz for the side chain. The latter is activated with a switch labeled “bass”, which indicates that the filter makes the compressor less sensitive to bass frequencies. There are five attack and six release settings, with both knobs also offering an auto option.
Price and availability
The Buzz Audio SOC-M is available with a silver/grey or black front panel. Buzz Audio states a recommended price of US $2850 / £2220 / €2680 exluding tax.
There are no videos of the SOC-M yet, but here’s what the SOC-20 sounds like on the mix bus.