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RIP Steve Albini

RIP Steve Albini, you will be missed….

Fuck me.

I have a profound distaste for compression and limiting. I hate them with the passion I usually reserve for the New York Yankees. I must have been born missing the “compress everything” gene that all other engineers seem to have. The sound of things being hammered with compression is such a tragic, conformist cliché to me… I can’t think of one as bad, actually. Maybe a guitar direct through a Pod… Nope, compression is worse. I have tried them all, at various times, on the one or two things a session that genuinely need compression. Our studio owns (looks at list) 24 different types of compressors, usually in pairs: They all sound passable on something or another, but nothing is genuinely inoffensive on everything, so we need them all. Most often, I do end up needing compression or limiting to record vocals intelligibly, and that is where the nasty sound is most offensive. While there may be no instrument that I “routinely” use any compression on, occasionally I need a limiter on the bass drum, bass guitar or snare drum, and they have different requirements. I certainly didn’t expect to find a “must have” compressor at this late stage in my life, having tried every single goddamn thing out there. Day two of the Atomic Squeeze Box tryout and I’m thinking of all the time and money I’ve wasted trying to get a passable sound through any number of other compressors. It is as parametric as the GML, but with much more intuitive layout and a very forgiving action. It is possible to make it noticeable in action, but I have yet to be as offended by it as I am by just about everything else out there. Sound quality is like a nice line amp — similar to the Manley Elop, but with less noticeable action in the GR circuit. I usually cringe when any compressor is working more than a couple of dB, but yesterday I was effortlessly taking 8-10 dB off a yelping vocalist with no pain. I’ll say it again: Fuck me, I didn’t expect this. My hat is off to Stayne — he’s really kicked this problem in the teeth.

-steve albini
Electrical Audio