The venerable UREI 1176 FET compressor and its countless clones in hardware and software form never fails to bring the heat to mono tracks. However, running two of these in Stereo is notoriously problematic because of mismatched FETs and component tolerances in the circuits. Other than that, its gracefully aged and effectively simple design offers many possibilities for improvement. That’s exactly what Australia’s High Voltage Audio took out to do and the result is quite promising.
High Voltage Audio VMC-76
Where a single, mono 1176 typically occupies 2 rack spaces, the VMC-76 does Stereo in 1U size. The latter is accomplished using four matched FETs and high tolerance components to provide accurate metering and identical operation across both channels. Furthermore, HVA added two switchable output stages – solid-state (modern, transparent) and tube (high-voltage, color). So delicious tube saturation isn’t out of the question with this unit, and you can do that across the whole stereo bus!
To really transform the old 1176 into a mix bus compressor, something it was never designed to be, HVA included a subtle 2:1 compression ratio, sidechain high-pass filter, and a wet/dry mix control. Nothing is stopping you from going “all buttons in”, though, if the project is asking for it.
Compressor Type: Field-Effect Transistor (FET)
Channels: Two (2) channel, dual mono
Rack space: 19” 1RU
Controls: INPUT, OUTPUT, ATTACK, RELEASE, RATIO (stepped), MIX
Ratios (5 step rotary switch): 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, 12:1, 20:1
Attack (potentiometer): SLOW – FAST
Release (potentiometer): SLOW – FAST
Pushbuttons: TUBE/SS, HPF (@ 100Hz), IN, SLAM, METER
Inputs & Outputs: Balanced 3 pin XLR with relay bypass
Output Stages: (Switchable) between solid state electronically balanced output and transformer balanced, tube gain stage using 2 x ECC88 tubes
THD: 0.5% or better
Noise Floor: -80dB or better
Warranty: One Year Warranty
Price and availability
High Voltage Audio is selling the VMC-76 direct from its website, priced around USD 1600 sans shipping and taxes. Things look and sound pretty good, I can see the VMC-76 going places in hardware and hybrid setups around the world.