Mastering grade compressor/limiter for tracking and mixing.
Requires Shadow Hills PSU (not included).
The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor has extraordinary
functionality, and also provides mastering grade compression and limiting for
tracking and mixing. Essentially it is two compressors in series, per channel,
that can act in stereo, or dual mono. First comes our mastering grade electro
optical compressor, followed by our discrete Class-A compressor/limiter. Both
feed our switchable custom output transformers, Nickel, Iron, and Steel. There
is enough gain in each section to overdrive the hottest tape, or clip your
converters, if you're into that sort of thing.
The input stage is transformer balanced, followed by our
fully discrete optical compressor. This section utilizes the same T4B optical
attenuator as the LA2A and LA3A, but is optimized for mastering. The second
stage is our discrete Class-A VCA compressor. There are no electrolytic caps or
IC chips in the audio path. There are six ratios: 1.2 to 1, 2 to 1, 3 to 1, 4
to 1, 6 to 1, and 10 to 1. There is six attack settings: .1, .5, 1, 5, 10, and
30 milliseconds. And there are six release times selectable: .1, .25, .5,8,
1.2, and Auto. There is an insertable filter in the side chain to limit pumping
with bass heavy material. Lastly the signal goes through our new Shadow Hills
custom transformer-switching network.
The first position is Nickel, which is our custom version of
a famous L. A. custom console. Next is Iron. In this mode the signal goes
through our op-amp and into a Class-A output stage then to our custom Iron
transformers, the last transformer position is Steel. These selections allow
you to choose between different output transformers that are in effect: clean,
colored, and dirty, respectively.
The optical section has a hard-wired bypass that completely
removes it from the signal path, and the Class-A VCA compressor is also
hardwire bypassable, completely removing it from the chain. It is possible to
independently bypass both compression sections and have your signal go through
the input transformer and transformer selector only. There is also a hardwire
bypass for the entire compressor, effectively a strait wire in and out of the
box. So besides being a mastering grade, and highly functional buss compressor,
it serves as an excellent tracking compressor.
For instance, you might call up the chain of the optical
compressor, then to the Class-A output and Iron transformer, for vocals, or
select just the Class-A VCA compressor with a 10:1 plus the Steel transformer
for crushing some room mics, and on and on.
The metering can reflect, optical gain reduction, discrete
gain reduction, or output level. The Magic eye tube follows the output meter to
act as a peak meter.
All 17 of the rotary switches are detented. The front panel
is engraved. The knobs are bake-lite.
"The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor is a very
versatile and unique sounding unit, capable of transforming a quite ordinary
sounding mix into something warmer, richer and more musically glued together.
It has a completely natural, smooth sound, which perfectly compliments mixes
which have been done primarily in the box by smoothing many of the harsh
overtones. By linking the opto and discreet compressors, it is possible to
nearly re-balance a mix by making the ambient elements and musical hooks move
forward in a subtle and non-hyped way. The choice of iron/nickel/steel for the
compressor is an ultra fine-tuning control which is the most fun part of
working with the unit, as it affords a surprise in the special enhancement it
provides and keeps the user from “settling” on a setting which is almost, but
not quite, right. The ergonomics for the Shadow Hills are the best I ever
encountered in a mastering compressor by a wide margin. Easy to read, easy to
recall. Of course, the ultra-large knobs are the wow factor which all visitors
to the studio have immediately remarked about.
No one piece of gear is ever good for every project, but the
Shadow Hills has, in two months use, become an essential part of my mastering
set-up, affording me a perfect solution to many of the problems we encounter in
the post recording studio era."
Greg Calbi, Sterling Sound
buy the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor! Please return yours now. I'm willing
to suffer the consequence of being the only one to own that anchor. Yah, it
adds a shimmering excitement to multi buss compression by not getting in the
way of the internal dynamics I've created... and I do love putting my hands on
those big black knobs...but who cares? Just once, I want a great compressor
that nobody else can have."
Michael Brauer has mixed such records as the Rolling Stone's
"Steel Wheels", Tony Bennett's Grammy Album of the Year
"Unplugged", and ColdPlay's Grammy Alternative Album of the year
"Parachutes". Recent projects include Paul McCartney's "Live
Back in the USA", Bob Dylan's "Rolling Thunder Revue" and
the aesthetics of the unit - it's the most versatile comp ever. The discrete
comp is a cross between a G384 and a 33609. The opto side is fast as hell. I'd
love to take it off the 2mix but that won't happen."
Doug McBride is a Chicago based Producer/Engineer whose
credits include Rachael Yamagata, Silversun Pickups, Fall Out Boy, The Walkmen
and Veruca Salt. His studio, Gravity, has hosted sessions for artists ranging
from Rod Stewart and Mavis Staples to Story of the Year and Rise Against.