A Designs HM2 Nail
Infinite Sound Shaping Possibilities
Awarded a "Mix Certified Hit" by Mix magazine, the A-Designs Audio HM2 NAIL Compressor/Limiter has three unique features that set it apart from ordinary compressors: Hard Threshold, Filter, and Mix. But that's not where it ends.
The NAIL's tube circuitry and components were specifically chosen and designed to impart the rich, euphonic sound of analog to digital recording - enabling it to confidently "ride" the 2-bus in a place of prominence. And while the NAIL can add character to any sound, it can also work transparently in the background - all at the engineer's discretion. Not just for the 2-bus, its ability to switch from linked stereo to dual mono makes it a great tracking compressor as well. Better still, on a stereo mix, using dual mono offers the added bonus of making the mix sound wider, as though it extends beyond the left/right boundaries of the speakers.
Threshold, Hard Threshold and Variable Sidechain Filter
Upon inspecting the NAIL's highly attractive custom-milled aluminum knobs and faceplate, you'll notice the absence of a ratio control. In its place are Threshold and Hard Threshold. With Hard Threshold turned off, Threshold acts much like an LA-2A by increasing gain reduction. Attack and release controls become somewhat irrelevant in this mode and the NAIL becomes a model of simplicity; set its threshold and gain, and let the NAIL work its magic.
For those who like to dig deeper, Hard Threshold opens up a world of compression-/envelope-shaping possibilities. Like the hard knee of a traditional compressor, Hard Threshold works in conjunction with the Filter, which is a variable high-pass filter continuously controllable from 8Hz to 250Hz. Once the Hard Threshold is crossed, the NAIL will apply desired compression above the selected frequency, and less to the frequencies below. This prevents the greater energy of bass from triggering unwanted compression and ducking the entire mix. Filter also lets you enhance bottom end for bass-heavy music without throwing the mix's entire frequency spectrum out of whack, as a multi-band compressor often does.
Put simply, the combination of Threshold, Hard Threshold, and Filter allow you to dial in amount of compression, at what level it will engage, and above which frequencies it will act. Ratio is always self-adjusting in response to program material.
Attack, Release, Gain and Metering
The HM2 NAIL's remaining continuously variable controls include Attack, Release, and Gain, which function as expected. However, Attack and Release are dependent on the settings of the Hard Threshold and also respond dynamically to program material, making for a more forgiving and musical response than traditional "once size fits all" attack/release circuits. Other functions include compressor In/Out for quick A/B comparison; Stereo Link/Dual Mono; and Gain Reduction/Level for metering, all controlled via toggle switch. Speaking of meters, the NAIL's LED meter was chosen for it's ultra fast response and the ability to see it clearly from across a dark-lit control room.
The HM2 NAIL's Mix knob offers continuously variable control between direct (dry) and compressed signal. Particularly useful for DAW mixing, Mix enables you to apply parallel compression to a submix without losing two channels of A/D/A for an aux send/return. And of course, you can also use it on an overall mix to add size and depth, or during tracking. As its name suggests, when it comes to putting the finishing touches on a final mix, the A-Designs HM2 Compressor Nails it!