"Steve Firlotte is smart: all the important circuit design and componentry of his Inward Design Tree 500 console are used in the VC500 single channel compressor module. Like the Tree's modules, the VC500 requires any slot in an API Series 500 frame and power supply to operate. Within the VC500 you'll have the SPA690 op-amp blocks and military-specification construction throughout.
The VC500 has a transformerless, differentially balanced input and a transformer-balanced output section. Compression ratio is adjustable anywhere from 2:1 to 30:1 to infinity; release control ranges from .1 to 3 seconds; and attack times start at 0.2ms and go to 20ms. The compressor has a stereo link switch that ties the module's detector circuit to adjacent compressor module(s) when their respective link switches are thrown.
In the studio I tried the VC500 on drum loops and other sources. I liked its quiet operation and vast adjustability. The 250Hz high pass filter in the side chain worked beautifully to keep from over-compressing a drum loop with each bass drum hit. This feature is a necessity when using the VC500 on bass-heavy mix program sources. Attack time changes are immediately hearable--using super fast attack times, I could nearly extract the snare drum hits out of a prerecorded loop.
I found the VC500 able to do squashy compressor effects, subtle leveling or anything in between easily. It functioned well as a peak limiter when set to higher ratios and higher thresholds. The gain reduction LED meter is accurate and "mirrors" the unit's action perfectly and all the controls are easy to grab and use despite a Series 500 module's size constraints."
Barry Rudolph is an L.A.-based recording engineer/mixer. Visit www.barryrudolph.com