London, UK (August 29, 2012)-Graham Archer, one of Trevor Horn's top in-house engineers at Sarm Studios, often reaches for his A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail compressor/limiter during tracking and mixing sessions.
Archer's Nail, purchased last summer, reportedly spends most of its time on either the drum buss during tracking sessions or across the two-buss when mixing. Archer, who joined Sarm Studios in 2005, has recently engineered recordings for Seal, Robbie Williams, Massive Attack, Ellie Goulding and Madonna. The engineer reports that he deployed the A-Designs device across the mix buss on recent projects for Seal, Spector, Ben Saunders, and Kelly Rowland, as well as on the entire drum buss for recordings by Birdy and Jeff Beck.
"When I put the Nail across the whole drum buss, the filter allows me to get a really punchy, less compressed kick," Archer describes. "It allows the bottom end of the kit to be quite dynamic and hit hard. With 'normal' compressors, the kick can be the element that drags down the gain reduction and sucks the life out of the drum buss.
"I usually set the filter somewhere between 150 Hz and 250 Hz, which allows me to compress things above those frequencies. In reality, I find this makes the top kit, the room and ambient mics sound more alive, exciting, and cohesive whilst allowing the kick and the low toms to punch through largely unhindered.
"For me, the Nail's biggest strength is its versatility. I also like really hammering it and then using the mix knob to back off the heavily compressed signal and find a subtler middle ground. In my opinion, the Nail glues things together really well and definitely makes everything more '3D.' It also adds an airy quality, like a subtle top boost, which is very clean and open. Plus, I don't know of another stereo compressor that has a solid state/tube design with a variable HPF and wet/dry controls, so it's quite unique."