Fuse Audio Labs dug out another piece of historic studio tech to emulate. The new VCL-515 plug-in recreates a “rare and remarkable” tube limiter from the 1960s. It was designed for US broadcast stations and made to compete with the esteemed Altec 438 tube compressor of the era.
I assume the original unit that was modeled is the Webster Electric WSC 515, made in Wisconsin. It’s described as an improvement on the Altec 438 design with the option to balance tubes to prevent them from thumping during compression. The original unit also has a microphone pre-amp and direct input so it’s useful for that as well. The plug-in is no preamp, but it can be used as a color box for your vocal strip by bypassing the compression. More information and pictures are available in this Reverb listing.
VCL-515 vintage limiter
Fuse describes the VCL-515 sound as “smooth and harmonically rich” with soft-knee compression that sounds “huge, yet relaxed.” Sounds like just the right thing for your drums, vocals or other transient-heavy instruments. It’s also said to be great as a bus compressor, so strap it on your master channel or drum group and feel that old-timey punch! You can also run your audio through the simulated circuitry without engaging the compressor to get warm tube coloration.
While the original unit only had a single input gain control, the plug-in version features variable attack, release, sidechain filter and output level controls. This way, you get more flexibility and control over the VCL-515’s behavior.
Price and availability
Normally USD 59, VCL-515 is on sale for USD 29 until May 17. Very good deal, indeed, and you can test the entire plug-in for 14 days without any restrictions! The VCL-515 is available in VST, AU, and AAX formats for Windows and Mac computers.