Retro Instruments Sta-Level by syra
A couple days ago my dealer sent me a Retro Sta level to try. My expectations weren't extremely high because although everyone is pleased with what they do, the people with the vintage units seem to think 2K for these is a complete rip-off (since they got theirs for 300 bucks 5 yrs ago...)
I was right in the middle of a mix so I thought "good timing"... at the time I was using a TSL3 on the lead together with an LA2A in parallel for the verses. So I plug it in and start playing around... ... ... ...I'm thinking is this thing broken? ... ... cause
a) the meter says 20db of reduction but I can't hear any artifacts...
b) The sound is very open (not the vintage darkish sound I was expecting...especially with 20+ db of reduction!)
c) The sound is very even...not at all those super thick low-mids some people have been complaining about
8 seconds later I realize this thing IS on! ...wow.
First of all it sounds nothing like an LA2A, TSL3, EAR 660, TG1, Phoenix or any of the usual suspects (1176s, Distressors, Tubetechs...) ...its the most transparent compressor I have ever heard...and I mean compression-wise. It definitely has a color...big, open with balanced mids and tight lows. I used it on vocals, bass, electric and acoustic guitar and drums (both hits and buss parallel). Besides drums it made everything else 100 times better! Especially vocals and guitars...amazing. On 2 different basses I tried it on I preferred the 660 but it held its own.
So what makes this compressor so special? IMO its the best example of what compression is. Just keep turning the input mode clockwise and hear how this device eliminates any dynamic range while still sounding as open and big as before! None of my other units can do that. And for that alone, considering the price of the compressors mentioned above, its worth every penny of the 2K.
Now if only I had another one...or two