The Orban 412A is a versatile single-channel VCA broadcast compressor which excels at parallel compression and hard-compression effects.
Bob Orban is one of the unsung heroes of recording & broadcasting. His products are in use all over the world and have been for around forty years. Orban is not as well-known in the UK as in the USA but, in the 80s and 90s, plenty of UK studios had an Orban De-esser, equaliser or – if they were very lucky – a compressor. They're not flashy or high-tech, but they're flexible, accurate & sound great. They have an indefinable mojo
Orban products were aimed primarily at the broadcast industry but found favour in recording studios. The things they bring from the broadcast environment – great build quality, modular construction and attention to detail – make them ideal in a studio environment
The Orban 412A is part of a small range of VCA compressors, each designed with different goal in mind. Orban's raison d'être was broadcast, so many had features aimed at broadcasters. The 412A does away with the de-esser and gain reduction hold functions of the 424A compressor in favour of a simpler approach with traditional attack, release, threshold & ratio controls.
When you first fire it up the 412A seems unremarkable. It's sensitive to control settings and can feel a little “grabby” till you fine-tune the attack & release. At that point it sounds like a cross between an opto and a smooth VCA compressor. Raising the ratio above 3:1 pushes transients back quite remarkably, particularly if the attack time is shortened. At this point it's displaying a bit more attitude and sounding more 70s and compressed. Go past this point and the magic begins to happen – wind the threshold lower, crank up the output level, the meters start dancing and the 412A does its thing
Used in this fashion the 412A abandons neutrality and becomes a character compressor like no other. It's may be over the top for some uses but for parallel compression, drum room squashing & spicing up vocals this is one of the best compressors available.
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