Alan Smart C1LA 500-Series Stereo Compressor/Limiter  From Alan Smart

Taking one of THE "classic" compressor designs a step further, the C1LA provides additional useful features and a more refined sound on top of the much sought after mix "glue" that made the original SSL compressor famous!

Smart Research Ltd

$1,750.00

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What We Think

Having used a G series compressor, as well as many of the available modern clones, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting when I put the C1La into my rack.  It looks and feels solid, but that’s nothing new in high-end 500 series gear. What’s remarkable about this particular clone is its smooth and refined sound. Typically these types of VCA compressors tend to sound great within their standard range of operation, but will quickly fall apart and sound bad when they’re pushed too hard. That said, you dig deep with the C1La without totally destroying your mix, opening up a much larger range of pleasing compression capabilities than other G series style compressors.

In addition to it’s excellent tone, this compressor brings some more modern features to the tried and true classic design - a variable hi-pass filter and external sidechain input add another level of flexibility to this already great compressor.

The C1La is fantastic for gluing your tracks together for a unified sound that’ll transform your mixes from a rough idea to a polished, professional mix. It’s not incredibly heavy-handed with color and character, so if you’re after something that will leave a more noticeable signature on your mix, check out the Vintech 609 or FOOTE P3S.

 

Manufacturer's Description from Alan Smart

It is a versatile unit, housed in a two-module wide 500-series format, with three main modes of operation offering a range of possibilities. It can be used for all stereo or single channel signal applications: as a main mix bus compressor; for sub-mixes; or for tracking either mono or stereo sources.

For 25 years Smart Research compressors have been used across many mixes: with artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones to the Three Tenors. The C1LA shares this history by including the same electronics and settings as the original C1, but with several new features.

A Tri-Mode C1

Each channel can either be used independently, or in Stereo mode both are summed into the side-chain to eliminate any image shift. The C1LA also has the ability to DC-Link the side-chain signals in Stereo mode, allowing for more movement, while still preserving the stereo image. And for those who prefer to compress both sides of a mix without linking: when operating independently both channel?s controls are ganged.

Mix Glue

The essence of the sound is determined by its dynamic performance: the way it reacts around transients creating its signature. In many situations, best results can be from medium-slow attack; and medium-fast release settings: passing transients present in a signal, while the compression law and timings then played out as the side-chain reacts and recovers both controls the overall levels and adds ?punch? as the transients are shaped. The ?SOFT? mode in the C1LA also adds a new compression curve, acting not just at the threshold knee point, but across a broad input range of about 15dB.

Features:

  • 3 operating modes: Independent/ganged; Stereo linked/Sum; and Stereo Linked/DC
  • Metering options: Input, Output, (VU) and Gain Reduction (PPM) for L & R Channels
  • 3 side-chain filters : 65, 130, or 205Hz
  • Automatic distortion null circuitry
  • Normal and half-threshold ranges
  • ?Soft? compression curve reshapes a 15dB range
  • Total of 12 Attack and 12 Release settings
  • Total of 4 'Auto' settings
  • Dual, balanced bantam jacks for external side-chain inputs
  • All settings and circuitry from original C1 Dual/Stereo Compressor
Smart Research Ltd

About Manufacturer

Originally formed by Alan Smart for the development of high performance audio equipment. He has worked in the professional audio industry for some 20 years since starting as an assistant engineer in Wave Studios in London, and then as an electronics engineer at Digital Audio Systems, who provided Sony PCM mastering systems to UK studios; manufactured Weber test tapes, and restored and extended several Neve consoles and other equipment. Engineering at SSL's 'Huge' studios in Oxford led to a position as commissioning and service engineer for SSL. His first assignment abroad was to commission George Benson's SSL at Lahaina Sound in Hawaii, after which he went on to either service or commission many of the rapidly expanding collection of SSL Studios such as Virgin's Townhouse 1 and 2; Sarm West; Wessex; Abbey Road; Air Studios and others. Experience with broadcast studios came at the UK's BBC, Denmark Radio, and Japan's NHK, and travel for SSL included visiting Holland, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the West Indies and the USA. This period involved solving the problems at each new installation, as SSL moved to from around 25 console sales, to become a world standard .

Alan left SSL to become chief engineer at Eddy Grant's Blue Wave Studios in Barbados, where he engineered an album; singles and film music for Eddy Grant, working with two Otari MTR90's and a Synclavier system. He took care of maintenance and ran the studio for projects such as Sting's first solo project 'Dream of the Blue Turtles'; and expanded the studio's facilities to allow for video sync and midi distribution. During this time many artists visited Blue Wave including the Thompson Twins, Bryan Ferry, Jon Anderson, and Mick Jagger.

Returning to the UK in 1984, freelance projects included work for many artists and studios. After engineering various projects for Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, and others (such as Joni Mitchell's 'Chalk Marks in a Rainstorm') at Peter Gabriel's earlier studio, Ashcombe; he then became involved in the planning and construction of Real World Studios. This involved 3 Studios, and numerous custom electronic projects; such as modifying the main control room SSL to allow status changing and metering in groups of 8 modules; and 64 split group outputs. Alan also designed the 'ASM' system for Real World, increasing the SSL's capacity from 5 to 9 automated cue sends per module. (This system was later sold to several studios, Rhinoceros in Sydney amongst others). While working with Real World, Alan designed and travelled with Gabriel's 'So' world tour stage system, and more recently the 'Secret World' tour. The latter involved the establishment of two complete music equipment systems, linked with custom built midi-automated switching and level control, multicores, line drivers, and used some 35 radio frequencies, and also involved extensive live recording of both midi and audio; an offshoot of the tour which he followed through to help in post production and mixing at Guillaume Tell in Paris.

The challenges of spending years involved with touring have otherwise proven avoidable; with the exception of Tears for Fear's 'Seeds of Love' tour, for which he designed and built 48 channels of preamplifiers/splitters to allow the isolation and on-line fault finding of all audio from the stage; as well as a stage radio foldback system for the two principles, at a time when commercially available systems were tested and found too unreliable to use.

Complete studio designs have included a 56 channel SSL/ 96 tape track capable mitsubushi equipped facility, Neptune's Kitchen, for private use; studios for Jamiroquai and others, and custom electronic solutions for projects such as Virgin's 144 microphone input Manor Mobile; the Manor Studios, Matrix's Maison Rouge mix room facility and many others. In 1987, The Engine Room began business custom building Studio equipment, and since then has established a client list we hope will be enhanced by its evolution into Smart Research into the future.

Currently Smart Research have facilities in England and Australia.