Analoguetube AT-101 Stereo Limiter Review

Sep 22, 2010 3:08 PM, By Barry Rudolph

REINCARNATED, IMPROVED ANALOG VINTAGE WARMER

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The back panel of the AT-101 also sees a moden twist on the original 670.

The back panel of the AT-101 also sees a moden twist on the original 670.

I tried all six time-constant settings, and found positions 1 or 2 good for up-tempo songs, and positions 4 or 5, with their automatic program-dependent release times, better when you’re looking more to warm up the sound than to control it. As I rarely place loud “meter-moving” mix elements hard-left and -right, I’ve never been a big fan of stereo linking. It works fine on the AT-101, but I didn’t use it for any of these tests.

I also didn’t use linking to record my 80-year-old Schiller baby grand piano. I used two Mojave 101 FET condenser mics (with -15dB pads) placed over the hammers. I used my RTZ 9762 mic preamp (a mil-spec version of the Neve 1272 circuit) plugged directly into the AT-101 followed by my ADC-1.

I used TC position 3 this time, and no matter how much you like to squash when recording, the sound was always smooth, bright (I used no EQ) and full. Winding up the input level control or just driving more level from the mic pre and/or increasing the threshold control gets you needle-pinning gain reduction—around 15 dB—that sounds fantastic.

The piano’s soundboard and resonance, string harmonics, and even my piano’s squeaky sostenuto pedal are all well heard, yet the attack of the hammers is somewhat rounded off—in spite of where I placed the mics. It’s easy to get all those cool piano sounds you know from The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.

The longer release times of TC positions 5 and 6 will act as a kind of release time Hold button where gain reduction is “frozen” over short time periods of no sound. When sound resumes, the AT-101’s output level will be more or less the same as before. This is important when the user is relying on a compressor/limiter for a certain level of consistency when recording musical phrases separated by time gaps.

Recording and processing vocals in a mix are a lot of fun. There is no obsessing over exact record or mix levels when your singer gets (unexpectedly) louder or softer—the AT-101 makes it all good. I used TC position 3 or 4 and limited as much as the producer and I wanted. With my quiet preamp, we found no additional noise with the AT-101, making it possible to hear all the grit, grain and subtleties of our singer’s voice, the mic and the surrounding recording space.

FAIRCHILD REINCARNATED
The AT-101 is truly the ultimate limiter for any source and, as a mix bus limiter, it’s a dream come true. It’s the realization of the epitome of Narma’s original concept and design, and if there was ever an addictive piece of outboard gear, I have found it.


Barry Rudolph is an L.A.-based engineer.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the AT-101 product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the AT-101 product page.






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