Bus Compression: Myth and Legend Come Full Circle

Stories have circulated for years on what was used to mix “so-and-so’s” hit record. Was it a Fairchild 670 on the two-mix? A Neve 33609? Or was it some cheap unheard of box that someone had in a closet? While these questions are never ending, there are some companies that are not only part of this lore, but are also still in business today and making versions of the same products they did 20+ years ago. Solid State Logic is one of these companies.

The now vintage SSL G Series consoles are considered (by some) to be some of the best sounding consoles SSL ever produced. For others that aren’t a fan of the SSL “sound”, there is still little argument about the impact and longevity these consoles have had on music production. One of things that a lot of users have loved about these consoles is the G series compressor in the master section of the console. It produced a sound that till recently was only obtainable if you owned an SSL console. But nowadays SSL and other companies have branched out and offered this compressor as a single dedicated piece of outboard gear. First it was Alan Smart-a former employee of SSL-and later several companies followed suit. These units have maintained a hefty price tag for several years. Even the G Series stereo compressor for the more recent SSL X-Rack series requires several thousand dollars for the price of admission.

Recently Chameleon Labs introduced the 7720 Stereo Compressor. It’s a single rack space unit, utilizing “THAT Corporation” (formerly DBX) VCA circuitry. Additionally, it has a high-pass filter built into the detection circuit. So…how does it sound? Below are two identical sections of a song. One mix is processed through the Chameleon 7720. The other is processed through the SSL XLogic G Series Compressor. Both are receiving between two to four dB of compression, with a ratio of 4, attack time of .3 and the release being set to “Auto”. The SSL has a street price of $3595 while the Chameleon has a street price of $629. Chameleon labs motto is “Value Conscious Audio”. See what you think!

SSL XLogic G Series
Chameleon Labs 7720