Golden Age Comp 54 is a mono vintage
style compressor moddled on the classic
60's Neve compressors with the same diode bridge circuitry that endowed
the Neves their classic, smooth, expensive sound.
Whether or not it sounds exactly like the Neve 2254 or not, the Golden Age Comp 54 is an astonishingly well specified compressor
for the money with all the compressor features of the original
design and a few more thrown in for good measure, though there
is no limiter section as on the original models and Neve’s
own reissue 2254.
"Almost unbelievably good for the price" Sound On
Sound April 2011
Compression is still seen as a bit of a black art particularly amongst audio engineers just starting out and we probably get more questions about compression than any other topic. Basically all a compressor does is automatically turn down loud peaks in the audio which then enables the engineer to turn up the whole track in the mix which, on vocals particularly, helps the vocal sit nicely in the mix.. There are lots of "automatic" compressors on the mearket but all decent compressors have at least two main controls : the threshold and the ratio controls. The threshold sets the volume above which the compressor starts to work or put simply when a loud signal crosses the threshold the compressor will turn it down and how much it turns it down is set by the ratio control. So if your ratio is set at 6:1 then for every 6 db in volume over the threshold then the compressor only lets 1 db through. all engineers use varying amounts of compression on a track to get different elements to come together and The Golden Age Comp54 has all the features of the classic vintage compressors and then some.....
The main control is the Threshold which is adjustable in 2 db steps from +10 to -20 to drive the
signal into the compressor. There are 5 set Ratios to choose from 1.5/ 1 to 6 /1 and while many other compressors
have a much higher range of ratios, these are the compression
settings on the original Neve and you should be able to get
what you need from the combination of threshold and ratio (though
it would have been nice to go up to 11!)
The Attack control is stepped with a range
of 0.5 mm through to 50mm to let in the percussive front end
of something like a bass guitar and the Release goes from 25mm through to 1.5 seconds though there are two auto
release settings which to be honest will be probably all that
anyone will want. But in true vintage style you can fiddle if
you want. Any gain reduction from the compression can be made up with the Gain pot on the right which is the only continuous rotary pot on
that would give you a very well spec'd compressor but the Golden
Age Comp 54 has a few more features that make it even more useful.
The first is a stepped HPF control with two
low shelves at 50hz and 100hz which will obviously be really
useful on bass heavy material but there's also a 7k setting
presumably putting a de-esser in the sidechain.
there are a number of push buttons on the front. The Link button is there to link two units for stereo operation but more
interesting is the In/Out button. Original
Neve users would often run the signal through the unit on minimal
settings just because the three transformers added a little
"quality" to the sound. So this button allows you
to send a signal through the compressor with or without active
compression, so you can use the unit just for a little coloration
(a nice touch). The Bypass button does exactly
what it says on the tin and the Meter button
switches the meter between compression level and output. I guess
normally you would just want to see how much you are compressing
by but it’s a nice option.
unit is calibrated at the factory to show 0VU when the output
is +4dBu which is the pro audio reference but these units will
find their way into all kinds of different setups and if the
VU needle is continually smacking the end of its travel it will
damage the meter so there is a trim pot on the main board to
adjust the reference level if need be.