pro-audio products

optical compressor for 500 series

A versatile mono compressor for 500 series frames that takes optical compression to the next level for all forms of music production. Indulge yourself in it's smooth and creamy sound!

buy buzz audio | US$1190 | €900 | £775 |

500 series compressor

design features

vocal compressor

control genius

You may know the sound of vintage optical compressors like the Teletronix LA2A, but often you need more control than just 2 knobs. So we present an enhanced design - the Essence - with attack & release settings carefully selected for a more varied dynamic palette plus the intelligent auto modes for that really smooth "set and forget" operation we all love. And unlike the slow LA designs, this compressor can also respond much faster when you need it. The soft knee opto action is perfect for smoothing the dynamics of vocals and a stereo pair will find immediate use to glue together stems, synths and the mix buss. And as our users report, the Essence is brilliant on bass guitar!

audio path quality

The audio input is coupled directly to our custom made LDR (light dependant resistor) gain reduction element via a Lundahl LL1540 input transformer. This is followed by a discrete signal path using our Class A BE40 amplifier and BE50 high current line driver that excites the Lundahl LL1517 output transformer. The combination of high end Lundahl transformers with our circuits creates a very warm low end sound along with a creamy top end finish void of midrange harshness.

creative versatility

The Essence is the only 500 series compressor (that we know of) to feature a side chain insert point so you can apply equalisation to the compression characteristic to control certain parts of the audio spectrum. The insert can also be used to "key" the compressor from another sound for all sorts of creative pumping effects. In addition, there is on board side chain shelving eq allowing you to quickly adjust the compressor sensitivity at high and low frequencies.

For critical stereo operation we recommend you order a factory matched pair.

Other 500 series modules - Elixir mic preamp | Tonic inductor equalizer

controls and functions

bass compressor

GAIN - sets the output gain from 0dB to +15dB.
DRIVE - sets the amount of compression applied to the signal, clockwise rotation means more compression.
ATTACK - 4 position switch with attack time settings of 1mS, 15mS, 70mS and our excellent Auto mode.
RELEASE - 6 position switch with recovery time settings of 100mS, 200mS, 400mS, 800mS, 1600mS and the intelligent Auto mode.
RATIO - 4 position switch sets the depth of compression from light to heavy, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1, 20:1 all with the soft knee action.
METER - switched to read gain reduction or input and output level, a PCB jumper sets the zero level reference from +4dBu or +14dBu.
BYPASS - toggle switch used to hard wire bypass the essence.
S.C. MON - allows you to hear the side chain signal (the side chain eq) and the side chain insert return signal.
S.C. HI EQ - applies 8dB at 10kHz of boost or cut to the side chain signal and therefore to the compression.
S.C. LO EQ - applies 8dB at 100Hz of boost or cut to the side chain signal and therefore to the compression.
LINK - using the 500 frame link system, two Essences can be linked for stereo operation.
S.C. INS - this switch engages the side chain insert point which are the input/output connectors associated with the second slot the Essence uses.

product review

Audio Animals by Paul Ashmore

user comments

Max Marantz

saxoaphone compressorI just received one of your Essence compressors from Vintage King and installed it in my rack. I totally love it! What a great tone and features. I am a sax player and while I love the full range response of a good LDC, I always find with close micing a sax you usually get some nasty freqs in the top end that need to be notched, yet sometimes as a result you lose definition in the mix... So far the high freq boost in the side chain is killing it on my sax recordings, and I no longer need to eq in the problem areas! The compressor is taking care of it, and it gives things a sweet vintage tone in the process with a more musical result. I can’t wait to use it in a mix. Also, looking at that thing before installation, and having built a few rack and 500 series kits as an amateur DIY’er, I can’t begin to wrap my head around how you ever designed and built this thing! There is a lot of stuff going on in there! Serious gear. Man I’m just so impressed. Thanks so much! It’s been a decade of slowly building my collection of music making gear and I’m glad to have discovered yours to add to it.


Frequency Response with no gain reduction; 14Hz to 107kHz, +/- 1.5dB
Maximum Input Level; +25dBu
Maximum Output Level; +27dBu
Side chain Max Input/Output Levels;+22dBu
Total Harmonic Distortion
   Measured at 0dBu input, no gain reduction, make up Gain 0dB; 100Hz = 0.1%, 1kHz = 0.015%, 10kHz = 0.002%
   Measured at +10dBu input, 20dB gain reduction, make up Gain +15dB, Attack AUTO, Release 16; 100Hz 0.1%, 1kHz = 0.015%, 10kHz = 0.005%
Residual Noise; -95dB A wtg, 150ohm source Z, make up Gain 0dB
Make up Gain Range; 0dB to +15dB
Maximum Available Gain Reduction = 25dB
S/C HI EQ Boost/Cut; 8dB @ 10kHz
S/C LO EQ Boost/Cut; 8dB @ 100Hz
Main Audio Input Impedance; 20k ohms, bal or unbal
Main Output Impedance; 100 ohms bal or unbal
Sidechain Send Output Impedance; 100 ohms unbal
Sidechain Return Input Impedance; 44k ohms bal or unbal
Size; (3"Wx5.25"H). Fits 2 spaces in API* 500VPR Series rack format
Power requirements; 120mA +/- 15-18 volts DC, as supplied by rack power supply.

Specifications are typical of a production unit and are subject to change without notice. 0dBu reference = 0.775 volts RMS

  Buzz Audio Ltd
  New Zealand
  Ph +64(0)3-577-5597

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