The Gates STA-Level is a vintage compressor/limiter from the mid 1950s. Built like a WWII tank, the unit sounds creamy and smooth with nuances of valve coloration. While its program-dependant design makes the STA-Level feel very 'musical' in use, it tends to work best on vocals and bass, or wherever a more solid, beefy sound is required.
Visually reminiscent of heavy machinery instrument panels of the WW2 era, the Gates STA-Level has shaped the face of pop radio music since the late ‘50s. Some of its most notable users include Rick Rubin, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Fleetwood Mac.
The STA-Level’s front plate design shares similarities with the later-released LA-2A, featuring Input and Output level controls alongside a Recovery Time knob. Because the unit was introduced before the introduction of transistor-based topologies, the STA-Levelmakes use of a 6386 dual-triode valve design arranged in a variable-mu configuration which allows the unit to act as an automatic gain-control device.Apart from being a compressor, the STA-Level can also act as a microphone preamplifier if the output pad is removed – a lesser known feature of the unit.
In use, the Gates STA-Level produces an elegantly-vintage sound infused with nuances of valve coloration. Its signature sound presents a timbre brought to life by the unit’s variable-mu valve design and high-voltage circuitry,a sound sought-after by many engineers.
The Gear Rack