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FMR RNC1773 'Really Nice' Compressor

FMR RNC1773 'Really Nice' Compressor

Paul White tries out a small, but highly effective stereo compressor with some unique features.

FMR's 'Really Nice Compressor' is a deceptively simple, attractively priced stereo compressor with two modes of operation. The first of these is pretty conventional: you simply adjust the Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release and makeup Gain until you hear what you want to hear. All the controls do exactly as you'd expect and the compression gets more noticeable as you increase the ratio, especially at shorter release times. The amount of gain reduction is shown on an eight‑section LED meter, and a momentary‑action bypass button brings the compressor in and out of circuit.

The other mode is activated by pushing the Super Nice button. The front‑panel controls still work as normal in Super Nice mode, but the compression is noticeably smoother and more transparent. This mode, it is claimed, uses three separate layers of compression in order to minimise audible side‑effects while still providing plenty of dynamic gain control.

Really Nice Studio Test

Using the compressor in its normal mode produces just the kind of result you'd expect from a standard hard‑knee compressor. At modest settings, the sound level is brought under control without too many side effects, but as more gain reduction is piled on, some gain pumping is evident. Depending on your musical tastes, this gain pumping is either something to be avoided or to be exploited creatively.

Selecting the Super Nice mode brings about a complete change of character. Gain pumping virtually disappears, unless you apply ridiculous amounts of compression, and the signal level is held reasonably steady without actually sounding processed. The Threshold setting needs to be lowered quite a bit to get the same amount of gain reduction as in normal mode, so I suspect that some bending of the compressor knee is going on — but more interestingly, the gain‑reduction meter shows that the overall release time has increased considerably. The manual is pretty vague on exactly how Super Nice mode works, but the way the three compression layers interact is clearly preset within the circuitry. I've found in the past that cascading two or more compressors with different thresholds, ratios and time constant settings can yield subtle and useful permutations. For example, by compressing gently at low signal levels with longer time constants, and more severely at higher signal levels with shorter time constants, it's possible to control levels very effectively without significant gain pumping, and I suspect that it's some variant of that technique being employed here. Whatever the secret, the source sound holds its level nicely, without being robbed of short‑term dynamic detail. For example, a 'slap and pop' bass part still kicks along, but the individual notes are more evenly matched in level — when you look at the gain‑reduction meter, it seems to sit in more or less the same place rather than dancing around as it does in normal mode.

Nice Or Nasty?

This little compressor sounds good in most situations and is extremely flexible. In its standard mode, it works conventionally with all the side‑effects you'd expect when compressing hard. When it does pump, it does so musically, and if you want less obvious compression, lengthening the release time generally does the trick. However, the real ace up its sleeve is the Super Nice mode. I tried this on a whole range of instruments and dry recordings and found it worked surprisingly well on just about everything from percussion to final mixes. In some ways it reminds me of the old Aphex Compellor in this mode, which is great for invisible gain control. Given that the Really Nice Compressor is so modestly priced, I can only say that it would make a really nice addition to any studio.

Nice Features

The design of the Really Nice Compressor embodies several novel concepts not obvious on casual inspection. Powered from an external mains adaptor, the solid‑state RNC1773 is designed to operate with unbalanced signals, because that's what most console insert points provide. However, the inputs are on TSR jacks that also carry the output signal on the ring connector so, if you want to, you can use a single stereo jack cable to plug a compressor channel directly into a console insert point without the need for a Y lead. Conversely, you can use separate in and out mono jacks for more conventional connection or if you have a patchbay. A further TRS jack provides a side‑chain insert point.

An optional rack panel is forthcoming which will allow one or two RNCs to be mounted in a single rack space.


  • Easy to operate.
  • Two distinct modes of operation.
  • Handles stereo mixes well.
  • Attractively priced.


  • External PSU.


A compressor for all occasions, whether you want your sounds rough and pumping or smooth and vice‑free.