The Neve 33609 is stereo compressor known for its musical responsiveness and subtle colouration characteristics. Like many great bus compressors, its roots lie in the centre section compressors of vintage consoles and has been adapted into several versions over the years, all the while remaining a prominent feature in many studios.
The origins of the 33609 extend back to the now-legendary Neve 2254 console compressor, which went through various updates before working its way out of the mixing desk and into a rack unit in the form of the original 33609. These compressors are all based around ‘diode bridge’ topology – a relatively uncommon means of gain reduction with a unique tonal imprint due to the non-linarites associated with it.
Though its roots stem from the original console compressor, the 33609 ended up a rather different beast. Where the 2254 imparts a colourful thickening effect, the 33609 yields a silkier, more transparent tone. The 33609 has itself seen many revisions. Perhaps the most important distinction between these is the use, or disuse of discreet circuitry design. The original ‘metal knob’, the 33609 JD and the current production model, the 33609 N all use a discreet output stage. These are generally said to be the most-favoured versions as this design element yields a slightly ‘warmer’ sound.
The trademark characteristic of the 33609 is its ability to compress very hard without imparting an undesirable ‘over-compressed’ sound. Rather than the authoritative ‘punch’ of some other popular bus compressors, the 33609 works a bit slower and adds body with a subtler sense of control. Its strengths extend well beyond just the mix bus and its excellent handling of harmonically complex material and response curves serve very well over acoustic and electric guitars, acoustic pianos and keyboards.
In addition to the compressor section, the 33609 offers an independent limiter, extending is suitability to mastering and broadcast applications. Allowing for hard, ‘brick wall’ limiting, the 33609 can be the perfect all-in-one dynamics unit for the final stage of a recording.
Frequency Response: +/- 0.5dB from 20Hz to 20kHz, measured at 0dBu relative to 1kHz
Distortion (80kHz bandwidth): 0.075% maximum (Bypass IN, Compress and Limit OUT, input level at +9dBu, 1kHz)0.2% maximum (Compress IN ratio 6:1, Gain make-up to MAX, Recovery: 800mS, Threshold -18dBu)0.45% maximum (Limit IN, Compress OUT, Recovery 800mS, Input level +22dBu, Threshold -18dBu)
Noise: -75dBu with input terminated in 600 Ohms, Bypass IN, Compress and Limit OFF; -55dBu with compress IN and gain make-up at maximum (22Hz to 22kHz bandwidth
Limit Threshold: +4dBu to +15dBu
Limiter Ratio: With input level at 10dBu, then increased to +20dBu, the change in output level should be 0.1dB, +/-0.1dB
Limiter Attack Time: Slow 4mS, +/-1mS, fast 2mS, +/-1mS
Limiter Recovery Time: A1 (auto): 100mS/2seconds, A2 (auto): 50mS/5seconds
Compressor Ratio: 1.5:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1
Compressor Attack Time: Slow 6mS +/-1mS, fast 3mS +/-1mS
Compressor Recovery Time: 100mS, 400mS, 800mS, 1.5S, and Auto 1 (100mS/2 sec) and Auto 2 (50mS/5 sec) settings.
Compressor Gain Make-up: Gain Make-up control provides 0dB to +20dB extra gain in 2dB steps when Compress switched IN.
Power Consumption: 5.3VA
Width: 482mm (19 inches)
Height: 88mm (3.46 inches)
Depth: 255mm (10.03 inches)
Weight: 5kg (11lbs)
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