Philadelphia, PA (June 9, 2005)–Producer Stewart Lerman has been busy mixing singer/songwriter Dar Williams’ upcoming release Brave New Girl at Philadelphia’s Elm Street Studios, working with engineer Dave Darlington and Elm Street engineer John Senior and tech guru Paul Hammond. During the mixing process, Lerman was compelled to fine “the perfect” compressor for the console’s mix buss, and decided to stage a compressor shootout.
“We had a bunch of different compressors available to us,” recalled Lerman, who put four of the top name compressors and the Daking FET compressor/limiter each side by side. “This is a natural sounding piece, and we didn’t want the compressor to sound colored or aggressive.”
Basic tracks for Brave New Girl, Williams’ eighth full-length album to be released in August, were recorded at the picturesque mountaintop facility, Allaire Studios, in upstate New York. “We tracked everyone live, with the whole band playing in the same room, through a Neve 8068 straight to Pro Tools|HD,” explains Lerman. Soon after, Lerman and Darlington joined Hammond at Elm Street where the album was mixed back to Pro Tools|HD at 96kHz/44.1kHz via Universal Audio A/D converters as well as to an ATR 102 half-inch analog machine.
Producer Stewart Lerman (pictured) and his colleagues performed a shootout to determine “the perfect” compressor, and the Daking FET compressor/limiter came out on top.
For the compressor shootout, Lerman, Darlington, and Hammond were all ears as they multed from the console to each of their chosen processors. “We set each compressor to one basic setting and sent the same exact signal through all of them” said Lerner. “We agreed that there was no question that the Daking sounded best. Three out of three pairs of ears selected the Daking. Compression can be a subtle thing, but we all said, ‘That one sounds best,’ and it was all for the same reasons: its clarity, its lack of accentuated color, and it did only what we wanted it to do. By far, the Daking was the best compressor for the job.”
The Daking FET is an all-discrete compressor and limiter featuring transistor circuitry, transistor balanced inputs and outputs, and Class A amplifiers enclosed within a sturdy stainless steel chassis. All parameters of the Daking FET are selectable and repeatable with adjustable threshold settings from -10 to +10 in 2dB steps. Other settings include 250 microseconds to 63 milliseconds of attack, seven release time constants, and 1:5:1, 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, 10:1, and 20:1 ratios. A three-function VU meter (input/output/gain reduction) and two inputs (XLR and quarter-inch TRS) are included.
Lerman, while finding that each compressor performed well, decided that using a compressor capable of a super-transparent performance was most important to the sonic integrity and musicality of Williams’ latest recorded effort. “While all the stuff sounded good, I heard the characteristics of the other compressors,” he explained. “I wasn’t looking for a ‘color,’ and not having one was a really good thing. I liked what my mixes sounded like. With all the other compressors, when I started hitting them hard, I could really hear the undesirable elements of stereo compression. With the Daking I never did.”
In the end, mixing to dual formats paid off. Sterling Sound’s Greg Calbi, the mastering engineer on the project, chose to use the analog master recorded on the ATR-102. “Even though the 96kHz mix sounded identical to what was happening in the studio, the tape’s warmth sounded best in the end,” explained Lerman. “At the end of the day, Greg chose to use the tape.”
Daking gear is distributed by LasVegasProAudio.com, the direct sales division of TransAudio Group, created to serve as a conduit between extremely busy pro audio professionals and boutique high-end equipment manufacturers. LasVegasProAudio.com offers a select group of imported lines, including ATC loudspeakers, Daking pro audio gear, and Brauner and SoundField microphones.
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