I've been quite busy doing lots of interesting things (quite a bit of which you can find on my social media pages) but I wanted to come back to writing a blog post.
During all my mastering endeavours over the past year and a half there's been one staple in my collection of gear that I couldn't have done without. I wanna talk about that particular piece of gear because I think it (and the company behind it) really deserve some praise.
I'm talking about the Vari Tube Compressor made by the Tegeler Audio Manufaktur in Berlin, Germany. Here's my story:
I bought the unit in mid 2016, not knowing much about the company and their products. After the initial inquiry, they offered to send me the VTC (and EQP-1, which I also love) to test for a certain amount of time, so I thought why not do that. No payment involved. As a not unimportant side note: all of this was discussed over the phone and seldom did I ever have such an enjoyable experience on the phone with customer support of any kind. They're just passionate, knowledgeable and very kind.
So, I got the VTC a couple days after the phone call. The unit came in a wooden crate with excellent documentation and it was very securely shipped. Btw, I'm still using the 2 wooden crates as a stand for my second monitor on the side, looks awesome... That's what I call value!
All joking aside, the Compressor made a great first impression just handling it. Plugging it in for the first time was really where the magic happened though.
Let me take a step back though and tell you why I use compressors in the first place.
To be honest, most of the mixes I get, be it from amateurs or professionals are already very thin in dynamic range. Compression for the sake of limiting dynamic range of a mix is rarely ever an issue. I use it for a certain effect it has on the spatial perception of the instruments in the mix. Additionally, certain units have sonic signatures as well, especially tube devices.
Having said that, the needle on my compressor rarely ever shows gain reductions of more than 1 db, maybe 2. So what makes the VTC so special?
As soon as you engage it, you can hear its effect, even if it's not compressing at all. You get a boost in body, warmth and a slight increase in brightness. That's not the magic though, a lot of tube devices can give you a similar effect and to be honest, I find the effect to be quite extreme sometimes. For me, the magic begins when you notice that the compressor rearranges the position of the instruments in your mix.
Accompanying instruments move backwards, becoming more dense in the process and whatever is featured in the center jumps out at you. All that while retaining the level balance set by the mixing engineer.
You might think that this is a very situational effect and surely doesn't fit everything and you'd be right in thinking that, however I found that it fits most of the mixes I get, because it's mostly music with a center point of attention and "stuff around it" and no artist would ever dispute the decision of featuring what needs to be featured...
What also impressed me was the level of diversity you get from the VTC. You can go from drastic, very fast and pumping compression to very silky and smooth compression, from inaudible to very impactful and so on and it seems to do well with all of it.
I have to say, I'm very impressed by what the people at the Tegeler Audio Manufaktur have achieved here and it definitely won't be the last of their devices I wanna get my hands on.
Yes, there might be other manufacturers making similar or maybe even better compressors, but you'll be hard pressed to find one at this price point. This definitely plays in the big leagues!
Until next time! Do check out my social media at www.facebook.com/rcpmastering or on instagram @robert_pachaly.