Urei 1176

Posted by Rob B

“I own five original 1176s but that’s not enough. They are my favourite compressors” - Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Adele, Jay Z)

Urei 1176
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Before processing

After processing

Bass Guitar: Jason Fichera | 1176 Processing: Mastering in Logic (Darren Stone) 

The UREI 1176 compressor was the world’s first ‘true peak limiter’. Introduced in 1968, the 1176 compressor employs a FET-based topology - a technological improvement over some of the earlier valve-based compressors, which were characteristically slower. The 1176's FET-based design allows for extremely fast attack and release times, giving the unit a unique sound compared to all of its predecessors.

‘The 1176 sound’ is usually associated with its fast response time and many engineers use the unit to push instruments and groups to the forefront of the mix. When used for this purpose, the 1176 works great on vocals and drums. The attack and release settings control the ‘bite’ on a vocal and the ‘snap’ and sustain of a snare drum, for example.

An anomaly in some of the earlier units allowed engineers at the time to push all the ratio buttons in, effectively giving the 1176 an nominal ratio between ranging 12:1 and 20:1. In this configuration, the unit exhibits a ‘destructive’ and heavily distorted sound – a desirable effect when used as part of a parallel processing chain.

 1176 la2a

 

Another useful technique involves using the 1176 in conjunction with a different type of compressor, such as the Teletronix LA2A, which exhibits a slower response and produces a smoother sound. In this situation, the 1176 is placed first in the chain where its role is to limit the peaks of the incoming signal, thus allowing the LA2A the work more evenly and produce a smoother and more balanced end-sound.

 

“I own five original 1176s but that’s not enough. They are my favourite compressors”
Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Adele, Jay Z)

 

Throughout its production, the 1176 saw a number of revisions being produced, each with its own unique sonic identity. The original ‘Blue Stripe’ revision A is the go-to option for most engineers including Chris Lord-Alge, who prefers using it on vocals as it produces a grittier sound. Later revisions such as D, E and F have a slightly cleaner sound which tends to work best when coloration is less desirable. The various revisions of the 1176 compressor have also been reissued in both physical and digital formfactors by manufacturers including Universal Audio. They are also subject to a wide range of DIY builds, which add a full range of distinctive compression sounds, all of which exhibit the same fast response character of the originals.

Special thanks to Jason Fichera and Darren Stone from Mastering in Logic for providing the before / after audio samples.

Keywords

Urei 1176 Compressor Gear
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