Brad Avenson-designed BAC-500 module makes its NAMM debut
ANAHEIM, California - January 2009 - NAMM stand #6290 -- Pete's Place Audio is taking advantage of the NAMM Show this year to introduce another exciting product to its lineup, a 500 Series compressor module known as the BAC-500.
Designed by Brad Avenson of Austin, Texas-based Avenson Audio, the BAC-500--BAC being short for Brad Avenson Compressor--is a feedback-style FET compressor built around two discrete op amps and a custom wound output transformer.
"We are thrilled to finally be collaborating with Brad on this project," says Pete's Place Audio President Lisa Montessi. "His experience, knowledge and passion really shine through in everything he creates and the BAC-500 certainly is no exception. It's a fantastic compressor and it's going to make a lot of 500 Series fans very happy."
From the top down, the BAC-500's faceplate features a large silver rotary input knob, smaller pots for attack, release and ratio, and a large output knob at the bottom. Additional features include a three-position sidechain contour switch, eight-LED gain reduction meter, and pushbuttons for distortion and bypass.
The module's attack control runs from fast to quite fast, while the release control exhibits a fairly wide range, enabling the compressor to go from "pumping, breathing fast" up to approximately a second and a half. This allows sounds to "hang" a bit when using the device purely as a leveler or limiter.
The ratio control features five positions ranging from 2:1 to 20:1, with a sixth position marked as "âˆž!". According to Avenson, "The infinity control has a little exclamation point next to it because, not only is it really flat, but it also puts you in that spot where you can do some over-compression and other interesting things. It changes where the threshold starts to compress as well, so it gives you different varieties of tonal characteristics to play with."
The BAC-500's sidechain toggle switch offers a choice of three possible settings: flat, high-pass filter, and an option that somewhat exaggerates the high end while simultaneously cutting the low end. "The overall effect of this third setting is somewhat like a de-esser fed into the sidechain, but it's a little wider than that and quite good for taming a variety of things that are overly bright," Avenson notes.
With all of the controls essentially cranked between the input and output knobs, the BAC-500 is capable of delivering nearly 50 dB of gain, which can be very helpful in compensating for serious gain reduction issues caused by greatly compressing dynamic range.
The bypass button found below the output knob is a true relay bypass, while the adjacent distortion button allows the user to overload the FET for color. "A lot of FET compressors use tricks to linearize the FET as a compression element and make it sound cleaner because if they're used by themselves, they're really pretty raunchy sounding," says the designer. "So this switch allows you to play with how much of the distortion characteristics of the FET you get. By engaging it, you're getting a lot more second harmonic distortion. It's basically a way to kick in a more aggressive sounding compressor without changing any of the other settings. You can dial in the amount of dirt you want."
Avenson sums the BAC-500 up by adding, "Although this product is largely designed to provide a bit of color and flavor--and not be too heavy handed--it really does possess that nice 'bite' that is characteristic of FET compressors and perfect for cranking down on things like drum room mics when you need it."
Pete's Place Audio was founded to bring a wide variety of handcrafted, innovative, boutique recording and live audio products to market. Under the leadership of President Lisa Montessi and backed by the manufacturing expertise of A-Designs Audio, Pete's Place collaborates with some of today's most talented recording artists and engineers to help determine what products, regardless of how esoteric, they feel are missing in the studio and live performance environments.
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