Incredible Compressor from A-Designs Audio
Mojo, Vibe and Color
There are rare times in the professional audio industry when a new piece of recording equipment comes to the market that is ahead of its time. A Designs Audio, Inc. believes the HM2 Compressor Nail is one of those pieces of recording equipment.
The Nail is offering endless possibilities in the control of compression and shaping the envelope with three features that set the Nail apart from other compressors, such as Hard Threshold, Filter and Mix. Due to the unique nature of the design, the Nail will take you to places you have not experienced before. But with all things new, there is a learning curve.
The NAIL is a Feedback, Diode baised design combined with tubes. This combination qualifies it to be a Hybrid.
One feature that is missing is the Ratio setting control. It has been replaced with a ?Variable Ratio?. This means that the ratio will change as the settings of the Threshold and Hard Threshold are changed along with the amount of gain reduction. You may, or may not, need to adjust Attack and Release, depending on what is sonically pleasing.
This feature is a powerful tool of the Nail?s design. This is what we would consider a highly valuable function. The Mix feature allows for endless combinations of mixing the sound of the Nail?s compression with your audio signal path. You can go from your signal (Dry) to full on compression, depending upon your need or taste.
This means you can perform the maximum compression on a signal, such as drums, then blend it into the audio path. Where as with most compressors, you do not have this option and you will find yourself fighting this in a mix. The Nail takes all that away and makes it easy to blend just the right amount into your audio signal path. This is also referred to as Parallel Compression.
The Nail offers another feature, the Filter. The Filter is a Variable High Pass Filter on the side chain so that selected frequencies below are not triggered by the gain reduction. This feature, in combination with the Hard Threshold and Threshold, allows you to select the frequency or frequencies you wish to compress. This is by no means a ?multi-band compressor? where you can isolate and compress, but it works somewhat along those lines.
For example, if you would like to compress everything above 50HZ, but you do not want to drag down the frequencies below that, then simply select the right frequency you wish to apply compression to. Then, you will be compressing all frequencies above your selected choice.
The frequencies below 50HZ will be hit by the Nail?s compression, but they will NOT be dragged down, the way most compressors will do.
Again, this will not isolate the assigned frequency, such as a multi-band, but it will allow you to be very flexible without fully compressing the lower frequencies. This function becomes extremely useful with recordings that are Kick Drum-forward or Bass-forward. But, the Nail has much more to offer with numerous other applications.
A great deal of thought and consideration went into the decision to use an LED array as opposed to the traditional VU meters you would most likely see on a compressor. Aesthetics and personal taste are involved and we chose a combination of ?Old School and Modern Look.? But, plain old work environment dictates that the LEDs can be seen from across a dark studio much easier than a backlit VU meter and in some cases with more accuracy.
The NAIL has six functional switches that aid in the operational use of the compressor. There is a main power switch, a stereo link switch and two gain reduction/level switches to change your metering, one for each channel. There are also two in/out switches, one for each channel, that allows you to hard bypass the compressor channel, as needed.
The NAIL has four XLR connectors on the rear panel, two male balanced and two female balanced for easy standard integration for any studio.
The potentiometers, or pots, are a conductive plastic. The conductive plastic pots are found to be most reliable and have an above-average life-span. There is a lesser chance of getting that scratchy-ness when compared to a carbon based pot.
Custom-milled aluminum knobs, and milled-aluminum face plate add just the right touch to compliment this unit.