compressor hand-built by Gregory Scott aka UBK
had three goals in mind when I set about to modify what was already one of my
favorite pieces in rack number one, Dave Derr's brilliant Fatso Jr." - UBK
1. I wanted
to create a collection of fixed-setting compressors that, with the turn of a
single knob, could shape and tame any sound you throw at it, and be especially
adept with those that are the easiest to screw up: vocals, drums, bass,
acoustic and electric guitars, and pianos.
2. I wanted
these preset comps to offer up several distinctly different ‘flavors’ of
compression, each of which has a ‘grab’ and ‘motion’ that is totally unlike the
others, in order to give the modern engineer maximum flexibility in terms of
style, attitude, punch, and squeeze.
3. I wanted
to make these compressors incredibly smooth and easygoing at moderate settings,
but able to go to extremes (and beyond) to create sounds that are surprising,
inspiring, and drenched in vibe. No matter how much you dig in, the results
should be musical; it might be too much compression for you, but it will never
be *bad* compression.
“How do I
do this?” Once upon a time, compressors came with two knobs, and your
compression options were ‘more’ and ‘less’. But make no mistake: this
minimalism in design was actually an asset to the guy who had to turn the knobs
and push the faders. The engineers who designed these simple boxes paid
painstaking attention to every crucial aspect of envelope shaping --- the knee,
the ratio, the attack and the release --- and they tweaked and tweezed the
mysterious and often chaotic interplay of these parameters until they found
their holy grail: a circuit whose action was incredibly musical and whose grab
sounded amazing on every source and sound you feed it.
was easy, and it always sounded good.” So it is with the UBK Fatso. In addition
to all the tone-sweetening characteristics and features of the classic Fatso
--- harmonic thickening, tape-like saturation, independent ‘warmth’ control to
soften and tame high frequency harshness --- the UBK Fatso features 3 brand new
presets, lovingly crafted by yours truly, tweaked exclusively by ear, and
exhaustively tested in the trenches on every sound you’re ever likely to find
in your mixes, and a few you probably never will… just in case.
this is my take on the comps built into my favorite 3-lettered vintage console.
At modest settings, it stiffens and reigns in drums, focuses a vocal, and
enhances the vibe of the original sound while making it easier to manage. But
when you dig in, wonderful things begin to happen. Drums develop thwack and hit
you in the chest. Vocals get utterly creamy with a pleasing, old school hair.
Loops come alive and breathe organically. Electric guitars get thicker, deeper,
and stay pinned where you want them. But don’t be afraid of those meters: push
it farther, past that red light. 20db of reduction? Don’t worry, keep going.
Ever heard your drum buss do that? Didn't think so.
'no rules' compression.
this is classic limiting, with a twist. My intent here was to craft a tracking
style limiter that would allow the engineer to shave 6-10db off the peaks of
instruments without sounding like much of anything happened, yet things are
somehow sweeter, they behave better. When you print elements thru this preset,
you’ll find your mixes come together easier and faster, with less eq and
compression. Things just ‘fit’, the way they did when we tracked to tape.
what happens if you start to abuse this preset in the mix? ‘Fast and smooth’
begets and ‘fast and aggressive’, that’s what. Slap it on electronic drum loops
and watch the Germans seethe with envy. Put it on a room mic in parallel, maybe
a little Abbey Road
really is what that kit needs. Crazy hip hop vocal refusing to behave? Clamp it
down, ruthlessly, effortlessly.
compressor does it all.
Glue - the
bottom end never sounded like this. It is simply unreal how easily this preset
will lock the bass in place, punch it up, let all the notes ring clear as a
bell, and make it loud while getting it out of the way. Engage the transformer
to make the low end sing, even on iPod docks. If gluing the bass were the only
thing the UBK Fatso did, it would still be worth the price. But Glue is every
bit as versatile and surprising as the rest of this box, especially when
pushed. It’s an extraordinary drum compressor, imparting a distinct smack even
as it makes the room explode. It’s lovely on acoustic guitars, Rhodes, sitar… whatever.
else fails, glue the sucker down.
to all of these purposeful compressors, the UBK Fatso features Dave Derr’s
classic“Spank” for that inimitable SSL-style smack. You can also combine any
two presets, or all three, for even more unusual and unexpected results. So
grab those knobs, experiment fearlessly, and ignore those meters: your ears
will tell you all you need to know.