Despite the accuracy and ease of use you get from analog-modeled digital plug-ins, there’s still nothing quite like mixing through the real thing. Warm Audio, a company known for its high-quality yet affordable hardware, including preamps, compressors, equalizers and microphones, recently debuted Bus-Comp ($699), a new stereo VCA bus compressor. The unit features what the manufacturer refers to as “classic circuitry,” which we can safely surmise is that of the legendary SSL Bus Compressor.
Bus-Comp is designed for stereo operation, but you can also use it on mono sources. A single set of controls—all on the front panel—govern both the left and right sides, however, so you can’t have two mono sources with separate settings.
Adjustable parameters include Threshold, Attack, Ratio, Release, High-Pass Filter (30, 60, 105, 125 and 185 Hz) and Make-up Gain. You can turn the compression on and off from the front panel for easy comparisons with and without processing. Also, you can switch the transformers in and out of the signal chain with the press of a button, giving you additional sonic variety. The unit also features a switchable sidechain input and a gain-reduction meter.
The I/O, on the back panel, is all balanced and includes XLR and ¼-inch TRS jacks for the left and right inputs and outputs. The sidechain input is XLR only.
According to the company, Bus-Comp “performs well on stereo mixes, drum mixes, drum overheads, acoustic guitars, keyboards, piano, orchestral instruments, voice-overs and endless other sources.” In other words, pretty much anything.
I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet, but based on Warm Audio’s reputation, I’m guessing Bus-Comp will live up to its billing in terms of sound quality and performance. At $699, it is quite an intriguing product. Perhaps someday they’ll come out with a 500 Series version?
Bus-Comp is due to start shipping in a few weeks, and many music retailers now have it available for pre-order.