Waves is ending 2020 with a headline-worthy release, an emulation of the Altec RS124 tube compressor unit from the Abbey Road golden years. It was designed and built in 1960 by three studio executives and it served on virtually every Beatles recording session from the period. The compressor is not an original design, but a deep modification of the American Altec 436B tube compressor from 1958 – itself a vintage favorite with many emulations in existence.
Back in 2015, Abbey Road teamed up with Chandler to produce a genuine hardware replica. Said replica was subsequently emulated by Softube, though the emulation is not approved by Abbey Road. Waves, however, got the green light from the coveted facility, and here we are!
Waves Abbey Road RS124 Tube Compressor
Waves got to model two different-sounding RS124 units. One (modeled as ‘Studio’) was employed for tracking with its faster attack and release times lending it a more aggressive, forward sound. The other (modeled as ‘Cutter’) had tamer attack and release times for a gentler sound favoured by Abbey Road mastering engineers. The plug-in features a Super Fuse mode to match attack and release times for over-the-top parallel compression.
Other controls include Auto Hold, Recovery, Input and Output attenuation, and a switch to flip between ‘Studio’ and ‘Cutter’ sound characters. Below the dual mono compressors, there are side-chain hi-pass filters, Mix blend knobs, Link switch, and several monitoring options – Mono, Stereo, L/R, and M/S. All in all, it sounds like there’s plenty of RS124 action to get you going! The compressor is still in use at Abbey Road and other prestigious facilities, including the rig of pop producer Toni Maserati.
Price and availability
The plug-in is on sale for the introductory price of USD 40. The regular price is USD 200. Waves plug-ins are available in every major format you can probably think of for 64-bit Windows and Mac computers.