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Someone just gave me this compressor - from an old radio station.

So I hook it up for fun; to a baby bottle, via a Focusrite red. I'm stunned. It sounds like an 1176 but with less distortion and a sort of round smooth quality.

The gates sound good and behave well. and the de esser is smooth, and the whole thing is clean and quiet. Certainly, there's a lot of cheap compressors that should eat their heart out. They sold for what? Around a grand back in the day?

This is the sound a lot of people are looking for, is it not?

Is it my imagination, or is the Orban 424a a "sleeper"? It seems like top class gear for the money if you can get then for a few hundred on ebay. Does anyone know much about it?

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AudioGaff Sun, 10/16/2005 - 15:11

The Orban stuff was good sounding solid gear made in the past so that means it likely needs some maintenance for at least dry or leakey caps. Their compressors were noted as good and standard gear that was used more for broadcast than for recording. Useful and worth having, but not something much worth bragging about.

AudioGaff Mon, 10/17/2005 - 16:10

Since we're talking about old broadcast gear, I've got a line on a CBS Laboratories Audimax. They're asking about 20 bucks. Any thoughts on that piece?

A real well built and old fasion broacast limiter. If it works, $20 would be a steel. Might not have all the old cuju magic of an LA2A, but it should still be useful and add a color/falvor that you didn't have before. I'd rather have it than the Orban...

RemyRAD Mon, 10/17/2005 - 18:33

Yes, the Audimax Was one of the mainstays 4 a.m. broadcasting. If memory serves me correctly, it also offered an expansion feature beyond the unity gain point. I've always wanted one to try on guitar. Sounds like you have some groovy processing going? It should certainly creates and sounds of people are not accustomed to hearing anymore. As I recall, it went for about $1500 in its day. I've always wanted one but never got my hands on one. You can tell my age by my groovy nomenclature!

anonymous Mon, 10/17/2005 - 21:24

So here's (slightly) better test results

The 424a warms things up with or without doing any compression. In other words, simply having it in the signal path creates an impairment. Still, a cool, big fat round sound - very DJ - and way better than any of cheap compressors I have used as far as how it seems to go after the gain reduction (attack release, curve). Mr Orban made this for voice, it seems. The gate hold times are too cool - very useful. Maybe worth fixing, or maybe not. Kinda funky - maybe like a joe meek or something. (opto??)

I think I'll give it to a friend who just started a podcasting business.

I put it next to another compressor I also got free from that vintage , a symetrix cl-150 fast compressor limiter. The symetrix was even duller but also good if you are trying to smooth a thing out. Seemed like the vca itself was noisey - as it stepped up the gain reduction there was noise which seemed to correspond to increments of gain reduction - or maybe that was some kind of rfi from the led driver circuits? hmmmmm.

In these tests I took out no db, then 3 db, then 6, and compensated the gain in my daw. For all these tests I used the focusrite red and an earthworks z30x, voice only.

McCheese Tue, 10/18/2005 - 14:47

Davedog, no fairchild to be seen. I've only been in there a few times. There are some funky multiband limiter-looking things that I've never seen before, and a lot of other 'vintage' stuff. I'll head in with a notepad soon. They do have an RCA 44-DX that is in gorgeous shape, but I think that my drooling was a giveaway, and they're not getting rid of it. The manager did say I could borrow it if I wanted to.

Davedog Tue, 10/18/2005 - 17:26

Multiband limiting....hmmmmm.....Yesss I see it all now....

And all the children can have extra pudding......hmmmm..

Well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.... A 'Real' RCA huh?

Yeah by all means...Take notes...draw pictures...find nameplates....

Short story: An aquaintence from years back scored heavily in a Christian Broadcast Studio fire sale....They had gotten the 'flock' to pony up for 'NEW GEAR!! Praise Jesus!!'... He scored two 1178's, two CBS Labs delays(AM radio....) THREE EV RE20's(ancient ones...not a mark on em), An SM7, and....AND a frickin PERFECT CONDITION..(musta been GODS VERY OWN) tube U67.

$1500. terd. I got to 'borrow' the 67. Canada looked good after a couple of sessions with it. (if I make it to the border by daylight.......)

McCheese Tue, 10/18/2005 - 17:53

Yeah, that's the really great thing is places like this take AMAZING care of their gear. They know they don't have corporate sponsors, or the accompanying budget, so they take care of what they do have. This station just got a massive grant for the digital 'upgrade' and they want to get rid of as much as possible to make room for some more offices or something. The whole B studio is getting axed, which means great stuff for me.

And the 'multiband limiter', well, that's just what it looked like to me. It has a few vertical meters with frequency designations on them, and some needles showing what appears to be gain reduction. I asked the manager if that's what it was, and he said "I dunno".