Check out these videos from our series on the A Designs Nail HM2 Stereo Compressor, where we focus on several different features of the Nail and listen to some examples of the Nail in action. These videos include detailed overviews of the high-pass filter, the mix knob, how simple it is to utilize parallel compression, the threshold and hard threshold knob, as well as how to master using the A Designs Hammer and Nail. The video series contains a variety of examples from rock, bass and drums, solo piano, vocals, a jazz combo, and more.
The Nail is extremely versatile. It can be colorful or sonically transparent, depending on the desired results. It features unique controls that very few compressors offer. The mix knob is continuously variable and blends the dry, uncompressed signal with the wet, compressed signal—a technique called parallel compression, or “New York” compression. Many legendary engineers, including Michael Brauer, Joe Chiccarelli, and Bob Katz, use parallel compression to enhance their mixes or mastering projects. Parallel compression can help create more punch on vocal tracks or drums without compressing the entire signal. This technique has been used extensively on countless rock records to create bigger, thicker-sounding drums. In the mastering process, parallel compression can be used to raise the volume of a track without destroying the transient and dynamic integrity of the music. The Nail makes this process much simpler, since you don’t have to create separate buses and you don’t have to worry about delays and phase issues between the dry and compressed signal on different tracks.
This outstanding analog tube compressor also features a filter control knob. This high-pass filter control is constantly variable up to 250Hz. The filter control allows you choose the point that will cause the compressor to engage based on the frequency activity of the music. The filter prevents the compressor from dragging down the volume of the whole track, causing unwanted pumping in music with a hotter kick drum or bass when the compressor is engaged. Check out the High Pass Filter Control Demo video for examples of this knob in action.
Another unique feature of the Nail is the combination of the Threshold and Hard Threshold knobs. The threshold knob works like an LA2A by turning it clockwise—the further to the right the knob is turned, the more compression and gain reduction there is to the material. However, the hard threshold determines the point at which the compressor engages. This means that you can dial in the compressor so that it only compresses the most aggressive peaks. This is a great tool when you want to use fairly heavy compression, but only on the most dynamic parts of the signal.
As you can see, the A Designs Nail utilizes several different unique characteristics that aren’t found on most other compressors. These controls allow engineers to dial in extremely detailed settings to achieve the perfect sonic result. Check out all of our Nail video series, as well as our series on the A Designs Hammer (now replaced by the A Designs Hammer 2), to hear examples of these great pieces of outboard gear in action on our YouTube channel.