Retro Instruments STA-Level
Mono Variable-Mu Compressor
The Retro Instruments STA-LEVEL is a replica of the legendary 1956 Gates STA-LEVEL. The STA-LEVEL dominated the sound of hit radio in the 1960's. Now these super musical sounding compressors have found their way into today's hits. The Retro Gold Edition celebrates fifty years of the products existence. Each Retro STA-LEVEL is point-to-point hand wired in the normal tradition. We wanted to fully capture the magic of the original sound. We think you'll find it very useful in your studio.
Most compressors and limiters bring out some noticable detail because of the nature of attack time on peak transients. Compression also pulls up softer sounds which creates useful density. The most critical aspect of a compressor is the musicality in which the gain is changed over time. The STA-LEVEL original attack and release times are very well chosen to minimise the audibility of pumping and distortion while adding the desired density and consistency. The release time is also dependent on the 6386 transconductance so it becomes a non-linear function, releasing faster at higher gain reduction amounts. In dual mode, another constant is added that further creates density and masks the sound of the slower constant acting as AGC or "gain-rider".
The STA-LEVEL adds a pleasing transient distortion manifested as subsonic punch. This subsonic energy is created at gain reduction attack periods and accentuates the natural attack waveform of the audio material. It is referred to as VCA thump by circuit designers and occurs from imbalances in the VCA response to control bias. It is a very characteristic sound of real tube compressors that make them so useful. Subsonic energy present in a live instrument or performance are easily lost in the recording process. The STA-LEVEL brings back the live realism. Furthermore, your recording processes down the line will have new usefulness and meaning. Real vacuum tube compression is the one trick pony you will applaud again and again.