Fans of upmarket studio gear will be excited to hear about a new Rupert Neve Designs product. Amongst the audio world’s royalty, the British maker has announced the 535 Diode Bridge Compressor – a 500-series format module designed to deliver the essence of the classic Neve 2254 compressor with some modern amenities like improved timing control, reduced noise, fully stepped controls, and internal parallel processing.
The company explains that diode bridge compressors (DBC) are characteristically “weighty” and “harmonically rich”, which makes them ideal for adding presence to vocals, electric guitars, bass, and drums. The classic 2254 compressor, designed by Rupert Neve several decades ago, is among the first embodiments of the concept.
To create the 535, RND has carefully re-engineered the original schematics to preserve the 2254’s authentic sound and response, seizing the opportunity to make sensible upgrades along the way – like adding full wave side-chain detection to improve dynamic response, and raising the diode bridge’s headroom. Furthermore, the engineers created custom transformers and class-A output amplifiers for the 535 compressor, all specifically made for the 500-series format.
The compressor features an unified Timing control with six settings, optimized for specific applications. Fast and MF are suitable for quick transient material like drums, plucked instruments, and fast singing. MED and MS slow down the attack to let longer transients through, and the SLOW & AUTO settings allow for smooth level control.
The 535 also offers a Blend knob for parallel compression, letting users mix the sound of the processed signal into the original dry audio. This results in an enhanced, punchier sound with added color from the compressor circuitry.
Further controls include the traditional Ratio, Threshold, and Gain knobs – as well as the SC HPF (side-chain High Pass Filter) and Link. Link adjusts the amount of control voltage shared between two connected 500-series rack units.
Overall, the 535 compressor sounds like a great spin on a classic Rupert Neve design, done by the company with the most authority to be involved in bringing his vast legacy into the modern studio gear market.
Price and availability
The 535 is now shipping worldwide, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,095.00 USD. This is a pretty reasonable price for a piece of legitimate Neve gear.