Retro Instruments 176 | Media

Vari-mu Compressor-Limiter

Published in SOS March 2013
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Reviews : Processor

Hannes Bieger

The following audio files demonstrate the Retro Instruments 176 processor in action on a number of sources (/sos/mar13/articles/retro-176.htm).

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This example illustrates how punchy the 176 can push a bass line forward. The unit offers many options to adapt to the input signal. And even though the bass sounds more punchy, the RMS level is increased at the same time, too!

01 Original

02 Ratio 4:1, Interstage Transformer in

03 Ratio 4:1, Interstage Transformer out

04 Ratio 4:1, Interstage Transformer in, Asymmetry "+”

05 Ratio 4:1, Interstage Transformer in, Sidechain HPF at 2.2 kHz

Drum Rooms:

The Retro 176 can also sound quite mean and aggressive. In this example, on a drum room mic, it sounds even more brutal and distorted than a UREI 1176LN, mostly due to its extremely fast release time.

01 Original

02 Retro 176: Ratio 4:1, fastest Attack/Release

03 UREI 1176LN Blackface: Ratio 4:1, fastest Attack/Release


With fairly fast time constants and heavier ratio settings, the 176 can really squeeze any instrument. In this example, a rhythm guitar track is being pushed forward. Please note how the frequency balance and the reaction to transients change when the interstage transformer is engaged.

01 Original

02 Ratio 12:1, Interstage Transformer out

03 Ratio 12:1, Interstage Transformer in


One of the primary applications of the Retro 176 is a lead vocal track. In this example, the compressor is making the signal thicker, more dense and louder, and it adds a beautiful sheen to the top end – even more so, when the interstage transformer is being switched into the signal path.

01 Original

02 Ratio 2:1, Interstage Transformer out

03 Ratio 2:1, Interstage Transformer in

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