Dynamics controllers are an essential component in a professional live sound arsenal but they often play second fiddle to effects units and EQs. Years ago, when I added more than a half dozen channels of compression to my outboard rack, it dramatically improved the quality of my live mixes. Reigning in drums, vocals and other instruments that have a wide dynamic range is imperative if you want to create a mix that is full of detail and power. In addition, a clutch of good quality gates can further improve the mix by eliminating unwanted sounds from entering the sonic picture.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, installation, studio, loccation recording
Key Features: Eight channels; gate; compressor
Contact: PreSonus at 800-750-0323, Web Site
The PreSonus ACP88 crams a remarkable eight channels of compression, limiting and gating into just two rack spaces.
The ACP88 has eight identical channels. Each channel has a fully adjustable compressor/limiter with controls for threshold (-40 to +20), ratio (1:1 to infinity:1), attack (.02 to 200 ms) and release (.5 to 500 ms). There are also switches for soft knee and automatic operation. In addition, there is a six-step LED ladder showing gain reduction and single LEDs to indicate signal below or above threshold (the onset of compression). The gating section of the ACP88 has controls to adjust threshold, attack and release. There is also a switch to select the gate’s reduction range that determines whether there is 15 dB or 60 dB of attenuation. Each channel on the ACP88 also has a makeup gain control, a bypass switch and a link switch to pair or group channels together.
The rear panel of the ACP88 is just as crowded with patch points as the front panel is with controls. Each channel has jacks for gate sidechain, compressor sidechain, input and output. There is also a switch that selects the internal operating level (+4 dBu or -10 dBV).
I used the ACP88 for some time and I must confess that I became very attached to it. Its compressors are transparent, very effective and superbly adjustable. The gates are very effective too. They can be adjusted to a delicate threshold for vocals or a real slam for kick drum. This adjustability, combined with excellent displays and excellent sound quality make this unit ripe for professional use.
I cannot tell you how many other recording engineers have told me lately, “I need to get one of those,” after working with me and seeing the ACP88 in action. I have, on occasion, dragged the ACP88 into my studio and used it when cutting tracks or mixing. While it may not replace your favorite vocal compressor, it does have the sonic integrity to cut drums and other instruments.
I am amazed at how PreSonus has packed so much dynamic control into such a tidy, though not cramped, package. The ACP88 is so small and so powerful that it is one those pieces of equipment that becomes an essential, rather than an optional, piece of gear. At this point, I do not leave home without it. In fact, I have now outfitted all three of my PA systems with ACP88s and the engineers that work for me could not be happier. Over the course of hundreds of shows and sessions, the ACPs have performed flawlessly.
The ACP88 puts a remarkable amount of dynamics control into a very small package. With eight channels of full-featured compression and gating, this unit makes the most of valuable space in your rack and it sounds great too. At $1,199, I cannot think of a dynamics processor that offers this much bang for the buck.
Shure Beta 58, AKG D112, Audio-Technica ATM 23HE and ATM35 microphones; Mackie 24-4 mixer; QSC PLX series amps; Community XLT series loudspeakers.