A-Designs H2 NAIL compressor
A-Designs Audio in West Hills, Calif., is now shipping the two-rackspace HM2 NAIL compressor ($2,850 MSRP). Featuring a hybrid topology combining a feedback diode-based design with a 12AT7 tube output section, the dual mono-channel NAIL offers compression control and envelope shaping with features including Hard Threshold, Filter and Mix.
NAIL's Mix feature allows users to dial any desired amount of compression (Comp) into the dry signal (Direct). For example, users can process drums with maximum compression and then judiciously blend them into the audio path. The Mix feature is also designed for engineers working "in the box" who want to bring in some aggressive parallel compression that is truly phase coherent.
While the NAIL lacks a dedicated control for ratio, A-Designs has opted instead to implement a variable ratio concept, in which the ratio will change as the settings of the NAIL's Threshold and Hard Threshold controls are adjusted along with the amount of gain reduction. The Hard Threshold is designed for handling peak overages and is usable as a hard and fast limiter. The Attack and Release rotary controls, which users can sweep from extremely fast to ultra-slow, offer additional tone shaping as desired.
The Filter is a variable highpass filter (up to 250 Hz) on the sidechain that allows audio material below a selected frequency to pass through the unit without triggering compression on the entire signal. A-Designs says this feature is particularly helpful when working with hip-hop, R&B, dance or heavy rock recordings that are bass- or kick drum-forward, as it prevents the low frequency energy from "pumping" and dragging down the rest of the signal's volume. A-Designs adds that the Filter will not isolate the assigned frequency like a multi-band unit, but it will offer flexibility without fully compressing the lower frequencies.
Designed with the two-bus in mind, the NAIL offers a stereo link switch that, when engaged, allows users to control all of the functions on both channels via Channel 1, with the exception of the Gain and Mix controls. Other switches on the milled-aluminum faceplate include two gain reduction/output level switches (one per channel) to adjust metering, and two in/out switches that allow the user to hard bypass the compressor channel if necessary. A power switch is also positioned below a bright-red jewel light on the far right side of the faceplate.
The NAIL has twin 19-light LED arrays instead of traditional backlit VU meters for maximum visibility and readability in low-light studio situations.
The potentiometers under the custom-milled aluminum knobs are made of conductive plastic, which is said to greatly reduce the "scratchiness" common to carbon-based pots.
The NAIL has four XLR connectors on the rear panel: two male balanced connectors and two female balanced connectors.
For more information, visit A-Designs' Website.