Hungary hasn't had a studio outboard manufacturing company since the last days of BEAG which was in the early 90’s. However, this small country is full of talented sound engineers and studio owners who are passionate about sound and it looks they have a new vision.

After more than three years of research and development the Gainlab Audio has been formed. The core team of the company are from the crew of Gainlab Studios and external engineers and business developers. The company opened its secret doors to the public in last days of december 2020 and immediately showcased two of their special designed products.

The vari-mu compressor Dictator and the passive equaliser Empress are both tube based studio equipments consisting of custom designed electronics and a fresh approach to the well known tasks of music production.

The smooth compression with character and the accurate program eq-ing with numerous non-waited functions are key features of the products. The founders of the company look forward for the first batch of units delivered by early february 2021 which will be followed by more new product releases during the year. 


The Dictator vari-mu compressor
The Dictator is a tube based dynamic controller which is designed after a classic vari-mu compressors. Theoretically similar to the legendary Fairchild 670 and Gates STA-Level in addition to the contemporary solutions in order to have a better control over the sound. The bespoke design of the branch circuits we just simply call the “mu-follower”. The two channels of the compressor can provide synchronised running throughout the whole range of the transition curve and so excellent gain reduction can be achieved. The time wise working parameters and the saturation characteristics are very familiar to the known tube based compressors.

The Dictator is a true vari-mu compressor wich consist a pair of pentodes that were mass produced in exceptional quality during Warsaw Pact in countries such as Hungary, East Germany or Poland. The surrounding circuits of the tube amplifier are using the latest technical solutions that allow the most precise parallel channel working characteristics which helps to achieve extreme setup conditions. For instance, it can be pulsing on a masterbus or it can produce crispy saturation alongside never existed transients and dirty breaks. Or work as a simple saturator with minimal dynamic control. Our intention was to create a master compressor and bus compressor for mixing, but in experienced hands the Dictator can be used as a sound design tool as well. The Dictator keeps every aspect of the sound in hand, it is precise however not always clean, just like all the dictators from the history books.


EMPRESS 2×3 Band Tube Equaliser
What would be your first though when you hear the term “passive equalizer”? At first, probably you think about the airy high frequency components, the rich subs and the widely applicable cuts and boosts which can be used alongside each other.

These types of equalisers have been around since the early 50’s, the most famous Pultec EQP-1 from Pulse Techniques was the first one that provided simultaneously passive filter circuits alongside high quality line amplifiers. The downside of the EQP-1 was the lack of ability to carry out precision frequency isolation, but it was able to change any sound in its core. Many of the modern equalizers are based on the original EQP-1 in both structure and functions that could be limiting in a modern music environment and production.

Our aim in the lab was to improve the classic concept. First, we added an additional mid frequency filter between the low and high frequency filters in order to improve the versatility of the unit in the modern days music environment. We left the option of simultaneous cutting and boosting in the low and high band, so all those tricks can be done that a user normally would expect from an equalizer. Furthermore, the shift function can be used on these bands so that the mid frequency of the simultaneous cutting and boosting can be shifted relative to each other.

After extensive test bench trials, using the equalizer in real life applications, the versatilty of the unit was far beyond expectation. It proved to be suitable from recording to master colouring or can be used in any equalizer task. It is fair to say that it dominates the entire frequency range and most of the time it does sounds great in extreme conditions, hence we named it to Empress.
In summary, the Empress is a dual channel passive equalizer equipped with a tube amplifier that has three bands on each side. Thanks to the compact design it only needs 2U space in the studio but it will have a significant impact on your sound.

Please visit the website for more details and information at: www.gainlabaudio.com