We check out TK’s latest intriguing interpretation of the humble VCA compressor.
One of the things that has consistently impressed me about TK Audio’s growing range of outboard gear — aside from the appealing sound and decent technical performance — is that designer Thomas Kristiansson doesn’t seem content simply to clone famous designs but seems always to be looking for a way to create something that’s just a little bit different. This recent addition to his product range is a case in point.
At heart, the T‑Komp is a VCA compressor. Normally, on seeing those two words I’m already thinking, “Oh, another SSL clone?” But this is nothing like the profusion of SSL‑derived stereo compressors that jostle for your attention in today’s marketplace. It’s a dual‑mono design, with a separate set of controls for each channel, and that control set is much simpler than on the SSL design too. More importantly, its behaviour is very different, in that the ratio varies with the signal level. In other words, the greater the signal level you throw at it, the more assertive this compressor becomes. In practical terms, that results in a smooth‑sounding, forgiving gain‑reduction behaviour that, subjectively, has more in common with variable‑mu compressors than the SSL. But the T‑Komp has another couple of strings to its bow, not least that the range of this variable ratio can be switched, to make it better suited for use on different types of material.
The front panel of this 1U 19‑inch rackmount device has four main control knobs for each channel, the first three being pots and the fourth a rotary switch. The left‑most one, with its 41 steps making recall and channel matching easy, sets the threshold at which gain reduction...