No, that’s not an audio interface! The SUONOBUONO nABC, which was just launched on Kickstarter, is “not Another Boring Compressor”. And boring it ain’t, that’s for sure. The nABC lets you control and trigger the compression using various methods including CV/Gate, USB, MIDI, and even a pedal. If you’re into creative sidechain compression, keep reading.
SUONOBUONO is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Developer Stefano Sorrentino says that he’s been working on the nABC for more than a year, and that his goal was to create a compressor that “turns compression into a creative tool”. Looking at the device he came up with, I think that he may be on the right track.
Sidechain compression has many uses, from cleaning up mixes to creating the heavy pumping effect that has become a staple in dance music. The method usually requires you to route an audio signal such as the kick drum to the compressor’s sidechain input. And of course you can still do that on the nABC. But what if you could trigger the compression using other sources, such as analog CV/Gate signals from a modular system? Or a MIDI track from your DAW?
Control compression in various ways
The SUONOBUONO nABC is a hardware stereo compressor in a very compact enclosure. It’s a radical departure from standard (boring?) rack compressors that are literally screwed into your studio. The nABC looks like something you could easily take on the road to your next show, and incorporate it into your live performance. It has a big rotary knob that’s also a bypass button, encircled by LED meters for signal level and gain reduction. Touch pads let you select parameters like threshold, ratio, attack, and release, for editing.
The nABC’s most interesting feature is the sidechain selection button, together with a few inputs at the back. In addition to a traditional audio sidechain signal, the nABC takes CV/Gate signals from an analog sequencer or modular system, MIDI (3.5mm jack, SQ-1/volca style), and USB MIDI. All of these can be used to trigger and control the compressor. The nABC even features a pedal input for manual control.
That’s a lot of options, and a lot of ways to get creative with compression. In a nutshell, the nABC lets you sequence compression events in various ways, without the need for tedious workarounds like silent audio triggers. What’s more – all of its parameters are MIDI-controllable and can be automated in your DAW. Sorrentino rightfully points out that that’s another highly usual feature for a hardware compressor.
Kickstarter campaign and prices
I think that SUONOBUONO may be onto something here. The nABC looks like an innovative, well designed device with many useful features. The Kickstarter campaign runs until July 11 and has a rather modest funding goal of 50,000 Swedish kronas, which is about US $5,300, £4,160, or €4.670. Prices for the nABC start at SEK 2,990 / $318 / £249 / €279 for the beta tester edition, which SUONOBUONO expects to ship in July. The regular production version is SEK 3,490 / $371 / £290 / €326, and expected to ship in November.