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How to use an 1176 compressor

For those of you using or curious about how to use an 1176 (hardware or plug-in), Fad Dupont… a new video on it. As usual, this new tutorial is excellent.

This video has a fee attached to it and also a short trailer.


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thatjeffguy Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:04

Chris, I'm curious to know how the 1176 compares/contrasts to the LA-2A? I'm SO loving m,y LA-2A that I wonder how I got along without it for so long. What has your experience been with the 1176?

chavernac Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:16

An LA2A has no settings. It has a medium attack and program dependant release. perfect for vocals and bass.
1176 is much more versatile. You can set the attack and release. Also, it has a cool sound. Sort of a bite.

bigtree Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:29

I have two now ( 2 x LA2A's and 2 x 1176's) . Having the pair is the ultimate vocal combo. An 1176 in front of an LA2A will catch the fast peaks before it hits the LA2A. Thus, allowing the LA2A to be more proficient, especially for vocals and bass. You can dial the LA2A in more precisely, (even more than you are now because you are using the 1176 in front). As you know the LA2A is glorious and like you, I can't imagine not having it now. I'm just getting onto to 1176's as a mixing tool in my hybrid rig. I'm playing around with them as stem inserts with the MixDream.

The 1176 is more versatile. If you have the budget, go for it.


(right on chavernac, good to see you posting here! You are more than welcome to share your wealth of info here)

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thatjeffguy Mon, 08/20/2012 - 13:07

i'm sure I'll own an 1176 eventually... just need to get a few more clients in the door. I live on an island in Puget Sound... just a 20 minute ferry ride from Seattle or Tacoma, but I think it's a mental barrier to those who live off-island. On-island there are tons of musicians, but few with any money! So I'm in business-building mode right now. New equipment will need to wait until business is up!
chavernac and Chris, thanks to you both for your replies to my inquiry.

RemyRAD Mon, 08/20/2012 - 16:11

Well if you are in business building mode, most of the 1176's that Fab demonstrated were actually clones. There are numerous folks offering kit 1176's. Of course not all 1176's were created equally. There were different permutations of the original 1176, which in the earliest of days was the LN. Other units had their input Transformers removed. Other versions had a different output transformer and related circuitry. All of which changed the sound passing through but not the type or style of gain reduction utilized. So, not only do you have to decide whether you want FET, Opto or, RMS and variable mu tube, do you want peak or RMS sensing? Do you want programmed release times or do you want to set the release times? Adjust the attack time? And what ratios will you need? What about pressing all four buttons on an 1176? You might want that?

Whereas audiokid might like using his 1176 before his LA-2, radio stations did that in the opposite manner. They would stick the LA-2 in the front of the peak stopping limiter, of which some utilized 1176's. And that's the way I frequently do it. But sometimes just like the way Chris does it even though my LA-3's are transistor and not tube. So this is another reason why software has become so popular. You can have anything and everything you want. You can make it do whatever you want it to do and then some. And it does sound like the real deal because it is. Maybe you should consider an EMT or, PYE, PDM limiter, a.k.a. PDM or, pulse duration modulation limiter. This is an analog limiter that uses a clocking pulse oscillator to digitally chop up the analog audio to effect gain reduction. And a lot of folks think those are real nice. I sold my eight PYE's some 20 years ago or more. And all because they did not have an output gain compensation control and their frequency response was limited to 15 kHz. But a lot of people thought those were the crème de la crème. And you don't see anybody doing that anymore.

I love my 1176's and my LA-3's a lot
Mx. Remy Ann David

bigtree Mon, 08/20/2012 - 21:50

Remy, thanks for the info, I'll have to experiment a lot more

RemyRAD, post: 392626 wrote: So this is another reason why software has become so popular. You can have anything and everything you want. You can make it do whatever you want it to do and then some. And it does sound like the real deal because it is.
Mx. Remy Ann David

Not sure if this is a typo or what you meant, Remy?
Re Software: although it may simulate the real deal and look like it, it does not always sound like the real deal or respond to transients the same from my monitoring chair. I've noticed some software compressors actually have a noticeable latency between the first and second hit of a double kick or similar quick transient attack. These sonic differences are subtle but can really goof up a track. When it comes down to having upper mids stable or randomly brighter, that's a game changer. If you dial in a nice tick at example, 2.5k to a kick, and the tone varies between single and double kicks, that's enough for me to go bonkers. Where as, quality hardware is pretty solid and un effected like plug-in processing and often over taxed CPU's during final mix time ( many instances running).
A fast attack and its sonic setting on an 1176 in a mix stays acceptability the same no matter how many 16th hits you feed it. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like some hardware over software.

Jeff, having the LA2A is the Cadillac for vocals. There is a reason why most people love them. An 1176 is like adding more variation and additional control to your already lush LA2A. I notice the LA2A as soon as I plug it in. What you have already is gold.

Check out the video when you have time. )

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thatjeffguy Tue, 08/21/2012 - 09:52

Chris, do you always use the 1176 in conjunction with the LA-2A, or do you use it stand alone? I'd be interested in how you use it without the LA-2a and for what applications?
I use the LA-2a always when tracking vocals and bass now (mostly acoustic stand-up bass) and get the best results I ever have.

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mberry593 Tue, 08/21/2012 - 14:09

I'll chime in here with a few random comments.

Back in the hardware days, the 1176 & the LA-3 were my favorite tools. Now that I am fully 'in the box' the LA-3 & 1176 plug-ins are still my favorites. I also have a Waves Fairchild 660 & of course the Digirack dyn III but I never use them.

The LA-3 like the LA-2 that proceeded it used an optical device to do gain reduction. That's kind of slow but IMO the results are nothing short of wonderful.
The 1176 uses a FET and can be much faster.
The gain reduction curve of the LA-2 & 3 is something like the 'over-easy' curve that dBX compressors use.....the more GR you use, the higher the ratio.

As Remy says, it is customary to put the LA-2 before the 1176.....but that's for broadcast. Do whatever works for you.

Often you hear people saying something is good for drums or vocals or whatever. The LA-2 & 3 work great on just about everything.

It is very common to skim vocals with just an 1176.

It is very common to use just an 1176 on snare drums....often with fairly deep GR. Try this & you will immediately recognize the effect.

bigtree Tue, 08/21/2012 - 14:11


Remy, Davedog, mberry593 and others here have a longer history using 1176's, LA2a's, LA-2's, LA-3's stereo versions, vintage etc; than me so I'm not the guy to give much more advice on all the various tracking apps these gems work on. As you know, I got the first LA2a last year before the big price increase, before that, I've been using plug-ins.
This was the best hardware investment I've ever made for a vocal chain. Like you, vocals are the big thing for me so I didn't have any hesitation investing in them.
1176's followed because of extensive research on the LA2A and my thirst for classic hardware. I would say, I would put an 1176 more times than not in front of any vocal that is remotely aggressive followed by the LA2A ( or vise versa :biggrin:). For lush lead and choirs, the LA2A is golden on its own. The opera singer that was just here would have benefited from the 1176 but I didn't have it in time. Rock, or any lead with attitude, I would say the 1176 is the ticket.

When hitting the LA2A really hard, which I don't find necessary so far (but I'm sure I'll be loving that in no time), I have a feeling you would love an 1176 because its FAST where the LA2A isn't. 1176's have a lot of control which will allow you to dial in and get more of that LA2A juice without squeezing so much to get deeper into the lush sound LA2A's are known for. If I recall, you are doing this to reach deeper into a quiet passage, therefore, I think the combo would be exactly what you need.

I have two of each because I have two LA2A's for choirs and I am doing the hybrid summing trip for the 2-bus. Acoustic work and building a mixing/remix business with a touch of analog classic is growing for me. An 1176 had to be part of this, its the most versatile comp you will ever want, choice for everything but that rich LA2A vocal sound alone. I only say that because I have both now and know the difference :) However, the 1176LN (low noise) will work for almost everything you put in front of it, where as, the LA2A will not.

For drums, the SPL transient designer is the ticket. I sold my TD2 and got plug-ins and hate them compared. Anyone that thinks the TD plug-in is just as good, no offence, you are suffering from hearing loss or really bad monitoring. The plug-in version has audible issues compared to the hardware. For my tastes TD are the thing for drums, although the 1176 would be my next choice had I never owned a TD before..

I'd be really interested in trying the Apollo because you can track with the plug-ins. That's got to be a game changer for sure. But I still hold fast on hardware being better sounding.

Hate to push GS here but a few years back there were quite a few there that use these. Here is some ref on how I combo them for vocals, 1176 first with other comments on the opposite:

bigtree Tue, 08/21/2012 - 16:33

Why do you guys find the LA2A better in front? I'm assuming what ever is behind (after) has the possibility (advantage) of contributing more sonic flavor and less processing ? yes no? I've never really thought about it like that before. Just tried it and found I liked it better that way.

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thatjeffguy Tue, 08/21/2012 - 17:44

Thanks for the info, Chris... and thanks for posting the video, very helpful. Looks like I'm putting the 1176 on my wish list. I also want to check out that Transient Designer!

bigtree Tue, 08/21/2012 - 18:22

You're welcome! You can find used TD 4 in the USA for around $600 and TD2 for around $400. TD4 are balanced where TD2 are not. I needed balanced so I sadly sold mine. I'm now looking for a Transient Designer 4 so if anyone reading this has one in great shape, please PM me. howdy

Note: The TD plug-in is very cool but like most compressor plug-ins, isn't as open and precise as the hardware.

and a few others.

bigtree Wed, 08/29/2012 - 16:05

LA-2A first or after the 1176?

I finally had a chance to try some very basic experimenting with an LA-2A first and after an 1176. The 1176 first (1176 > LA-2A) sounds much more detailed and punchy, or less processed with more vibe. I would use this conf for lead VOX and possibly other apps. The 1176 grabs the transients right a way that would otherwise force the LA-2A into more compression that it doesn't handle well (a bad crossover of who gets what). What happens is an audible tone and drop in volume going into the LA2A first that is more muddy or dark. The opposite is more open, tighter and a nicer vibe. And if I want more tube, I can add more and its doesn't seem to loose the edge.
I didn't hear what some opinions claim that the fast transients will pass through for the 1176 to catch later being a benefit. It didn't work as nice that way in series but it might for a more mellow performance or desired effect.
Whatever technical reasons are behind it all, on this first serious round, it definitely creates a more mellow process when flipped (LA-2A > 1176). I personally feel its like a front wheel drive car apposed to real wheel. Or, putting your wife at the bottom end of the sofa while moving it up some stairs. The 1176 is better at taking the hit (or weight) where the LA-2A softens the load or helps balances it evenly and ultimately sends it further into glorious sonic wonderland. :)

The two are very compatible. smoke Beautiful

bigtree Wed, 08/29/2012 - 20:39

Okay, I retract somewhat. After a few more hours doing the LA-2A first I am in love with the opposite too, lol, This is a crazy ass combo. Playing around with the levels either way there are sweet spots. So, I conclude as mentioned above, either way works. On both counts I am finding that just kissing the source with the LA-2A seems best though. Using both gain stages to allow for the other to push it home is where it happens.

Bottom line, the combo is one killer set-up. 1176 > LA-2A is still my fav for Vox

And now for kicks... I'm now going to order a different set of tubes.

RemyRAD Wed, 08/29/2012 - 23:33

Now you're asking for trouble. Different set of tubes... lions and tigers and bears.

In a manner of speaking I too go both ways. LA to Hollywood, Hollywood to LA.
Mx. Remy Ann David

bigtree Wed, 08/29/2012 - 23:47

I sourced some vintage GE long-plate 12AX7 and 12BH7.

Now I'm playing with the A-Design Hammer and its kicking a serious sweet glue into an entire mix. Highly recommend that piece too.

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kmetal Thu, 09/20/2012 - 21:57

we use a silverface '1176Ln (i think)' alot in parallel for bass, snare drums. I've gotten some great gritt on vocals on the way in, w/ all buttons 'out'. Not a typo, i know people use the all buttons 'in', but man, what a heck of a grit i get when i push our the 1176 all buttons out, at the studio! i use it as much as a grit unit, as a compressor. I'm gonna buy one at some point i life. I do find that the older gear is more noisey, but that doesn't usually bother me very much.

After using the BF 1176, and the CLA 1176 (blackface/blue stripe), i find i can't get that grit. It does come down to whatever particular unit they modeled. Which is why hardware is such an allusive thing. Software offers undeniable consistency and convenience. I like to get my 'dirt' in the analog realm and use digital to correct analog deficiencies.

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thatjeffguy Fri, 09/21/2012 - 15:48

Hey audiokid, I'm wondering if you investigated the UA 2-1176? Wondering why you went with two separate 1176 units instead of one 2-1176 ? Would have saved quite a bit, so I'm thinking you must have learned something about the 2-1176 that wasn't as good as the 1176. I'm close to buying one or the other and would appreciate anything you may have learned re: comparison between the two.

Thanks Chris,