Recent projects at Pokey Sticks have needed a big twist of the Feisty, Phat, Classic dial. Several interesting Technological Things have come out of that investigation, and this very yummy compressor is one that I regard as Handy For Everything…
I'm quite a fan of the classic LA-2A compressor. Lots of digital versions exist, but not all are to be trusted. Beyond that, the real device has that something-extra that simulations tend to lack, and ‘classic’ doesn’t always meet the very high technical performance standards we expect these days! On the other hand, the LA-2A has a big knob that turns one way for ‘more’, the other way for ‘less’ and then Good Stuff comes out. A very appealing quality in a compressor. Hence the response with the Pokey Sticks Tasty Compressor.
Tasty Compressor, being modelled from the LA-2A has a compression ratio that is not a single value, but smoothly compresses louder signals harder. The real LA-2A is limited by the simple circuitry and can only continue the smooth curve so far. This vst version benefits from its Ethereal Virtual Nature and remains unfussy where actual analogue would choke. Enhancement number two is that the ability to ‘look ahead’ in a digital compressor is a huge advantage in modern devices. Tasty Compressor quietly cheats time in a carefully tailored way. By taking the LA-2A detection circuitry and shifting it a few milliseconds into the future, it can do what the LA-2A wishes it could. The envelope follower circuitry works more successfully, there’s still no proliferation of obscure controls to Fiddle And Despair(tm), and a number of compromises about compression ‘speed’ are overcome. A last little trick significantly reduces low frequency noise that would otherwise get into the sound.
All this with optimised coding means you can have a whole bunch of smooth, squishy, classic, better than-the-beatles-had, analogue compression, at low CPU use, with a stress-eliminating ‘Go’ dial, for free! To use, dial in more or less compression with the dial on the left. As is the way with these things, this also changes the output volume. Compensate (if you like) with the big dial on the right. Tasty compressor has one small extra control you can comfortably ignore. If you do twist it, it’ll alter the sensitivity of the detector circuit, adding more compression but turning the volume down instead of up. (Probably pointless, but included just in case… )
That leaves a final issue: the phat something-extra of the real device. Its pretty obviously true if you can find an A/B test of a real LA-2A versus a simulation. People will argue vehemently about this kind of point, so it’s necessary to use careful language to avoid death threats… I suggest that the effect comes mainly from frequency dependent distortion in the (valve) amplifier section of the original. It’s actually very simple to add this as another optional step. Take a copy of the Pokey Sticks vst Bulova. Set it to ‘odd order’ harmonics. Left dial all the way anti-clockwise, middle dial most of the way anti-clockwise. I suggest just a little less than ‘1’. Dial in a small amount of the effect to taste with the rightmost dial. This will generate a small amount of odd-order harmonic distortion only on the lowest frequency parts of the sound - just as a valve amplifier and its associated output transformer will tend to do. You should hear the bottom end phatten up and take on more colour. For an authentic effect keep it subtle…
Download the updated version vst for windows here... (includes a new VU meter)
or via the 'Free Tech' page on this site
Download the previous version vst for windows here... :)