Lisson Grove R-124 Compressor Review

Mar 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barry Rudolph



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Lisson Grove R-124 sidebar

The recording engineer would then adjust a lockable front panel trim pot labeled Balance so that this ticking sound is at minimum, indicating that both triode halves are balanced. This 20-second procedure is required one or two times a month and can be done at any time—even during a session.

The R-124 comes with a continuously variable attack time control with a range of 15 ms to 125 ms, along with a new O/P Load control feature. O/P’s front panel control sets the R-124’s output impedance anywhere between (CCW) 200 ohms (labeled “Dark”) to 600 ohms (CW). Also new is a rear panel, ¼-inch link jack for stereo operation of two R-124s, with the unit that is compressing more acting as the master.

Release operation is also completely “remixed” on the R-124. A faster release time replaces the RS124’s fastest position—it’s now 310 ms on the R-124, with all other five release times the same as on the RS124.

Like the RS124, the R-124’s Release rotary switch allows access to the compressor’s unique Hold or Infinity mode. As soon as you switch to Hold, the current amount of gain reduction at that moment is “frozen,” with no recovery of gain back to unity as is typical of a compressor. To engage Hold, there are six interstitial switch positions between the six release time positions, making the Hold mode always one click away from any selected release time.

For hands-free operation of Hold, there is a ¼-inch rear TS panel jack for connecting a normally open footswitch (not included). Shorting the tip to the sleeve returns the unit to normal operation.

Operating the R-124’s input, output, attack and release controls reminded me of setting up a UA 1176LN peak limiter except without threshold or ratio controls—much easier. Simply turn up the R-124’s input level control to set the amount of compression and adjust output to makeup gain.

During a mix, a young female singer’s overly dynamic vocal tracks were easily managed by the R-124. I used the fastest attack time and the number 3 release position. With input at nearly full CW, I saw 20 dB of gain reduction resulting in a solid sound that revealed the singer’s every vocal nuance and detail. This worked well for the lead vocal track to keep it “tucked in” and not overpowering the dense rock track I was mixing.

However, with 20 dB of makeup gain in the chain, in between the singer’s phrases I could also hear headphone spill, the tube mic/preamp noise floor and the producer talking in the next room! Plus, the song’s “call and response” vocal production meant that several seconds of time elapsed between lead vocal sections. Every time the singer started in on the next section, the R-124 attacked and started gain reduction, but, because the release time had expired, there was a tremendous “pop” at the front of her first note.

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