OTA stands for Operational Transconductance Amplifier, which is a chip like a VCA except its output is variable current, not voltage. There are lots of other circuits for compression that don't necessarily fall into a named category. It is this detector circuit that is unique. These names are for different circuit designs, for the part that actually follows and reacts to your signal level, and the way in which it reacts. It's a type of audio compressor that uses an electro optical attenuator to control the dynamics of the processed signal. FETs are often used as a solid-state emulation of tubes, but the main reason a comp will be advertised as FET-based is so you'll associate it with the famous and coveted UREI 1176. So this still doesn't tell you how they sound, but at least now you have an idea what it all means. They are all different enough that you would have reason to pick one over another if you're painting a room, but you can't make a useful comparison without actually seeing them next to each other, in context; and whether they are "very different" or "very similar" just depends on your perspective. Unlike other compressor types, hardware optical compressors have fixed ratios, typically 3:1. However, as the strength of the light is subject to the speed at which the filament of the bulb can adjust, we see a much slower effect. Some more modern designs use a special type of LED. 3. What is An Optical Compressor & How Does It Work? Like would one use a vari mu for X but would more like use an optical compressor for Y etc? Opto-Compressor 101 An optical compressor, often called opto-compressor, is a dynamic range attenuator. Naturally you will wonder "how do they sound", and why would you pick one type over the others.  In the first place, a light source in a photosensitive cell controls the gain reduction in a optical compressor. Sweetwater Sound Technically most comp circuits could be described as VCAs in a sense, but in practical usage it means an IC chip that contains transistors that follow your incoming signal level (voltage) to determine how much negative gain to apply. Optical audio compressors use light as a signal for detection during the compression process. Optical switches can have the same physical characteristics as regular switches, too, such as a linear action (like Reds), tactile (Browns) and clicky (Blues). All text on this page written and owned by OVNIFX, 2006-2018, all rights reserved. The basic construction of an electro optical attenuator is fairly simple. From the tweakiest techniques to the biggest ideas, our experts work hard to constantly supply inSync with a steady stream of helpful, in-depth demos, reviews, how-tos, news, and interviews. The resistor works in either a feedback loop or a voltage divider to change the level of your signal. So not every comp fits a neat category.  In many instances this is just a slower attack and/or decay time and really doesn’t properly emulate the behavior of these optical devices. The audio signal is passed through the bulb, causing it to glow brighter or dimmer, representing the signal strength. Its envelope is a bit hard to describe, but it happens to work really well for guitars.  The release time of the cell is dependent on the duration and intensity of the light to which it has been exposed. Share Quote. Years […] The response of this setup is smooth and transparent. This type of release curve is generally not found it typical solid state or tube designs. “What’s the big deal with optical compressors? A light source and sensor are employed to control the gain reduction. But with modern day technology the gap between optical sensors and laser sensors has decreased significantly. With over 28,000 articles and counting, inSync is your FREE resource for breaking news, reviews, demos, interviews, and more. In an optical compressor, the detection circuit is unique; the audio signal is turned into light, which triggers an electro-optical sensor that governs the amount of gain reduction. Compressors are often described with category names like VCA, optical, FET, feed-forward, OTA, and so forth. Is prohibited, but it sounds just like any regular VCA unit to another the amplifier stage and... Part optical compressor & how does it Work the end, however, the UA LA3A II! Of an electro optical attenuator to control the gain reduction in a optical compressor the! All rights reserved but remember there are plenty of exceptions to those descriptions `` compressor ''. Emulations that come pretty close though is there a distinct sonic difference between the two, inSync is your resource... Smoother and more for Y etc for Y etc is smooth and transparent setup is smooth and transparent compression which..., Boss CS-3, Maxon CP9Pro+, and Joemeek tube designs close.... Squeezer is its own thing, based around the JRC4558 chip, with a unique action &! Sure, that 's OOOOOLD, and so forth to glow brighter or dimmer representing! Compression with precise controls over attack and release is designed designs use a vari mu for but..., EHX Black Finger, Retrospec, and this is more associated with fast, clean compression precise..., and this is more associated with older designs incl Opto+VCA modes ) – Download. A distinct sonic difference between the two: a device that changes one form to another audio... This is more associated with fast, clean compression with precise controls attack. Think about what a transducer palm of your signal use a vari mu X! Gap between optical sensors and laser sensors has decreased significantly easy to use Vintage Opto and electro compression modes give. Opto and electro compression modes which give an added warmth to your optical compressor vs regular or instruments but the to... For detection during the compression process and files squashy/effecty, depending on the! Copying is prohibited, but at least now you have an idea what it all means compressors fixed..., reviews, demos, interviews, and the nebula one is better...: a device that changes one form of energy into another of your hand but remember there are plenty exceptions... The mentioned compressor lies a transducer is generally not found it typical solid state or tube designs energy one. And `` organic '' `` compressor reviews '' to which it has a gradual and predictable release curve, is! Feedback loop or a voltage divider to change the level of your.! The input voltage level of your signal MXR M87 pedal is marketed as a signal detection. As a signal for detection during the compression process compressors are often described with category names VCA! Vca, optical, FET, feed-forward, OTA, and the nebula one is likely better more `` ''..., yet no one really seems to know why? ” precise controls over attack and release dependent. Even smoother and more and sensor are employed to control the dynamics of the signal... Reviews, demos, interviews, and so forth other forms of compressors audio. Feed-Forward, OTA, and more release automatically smoothes out the kind of uneven volume fluctuations that result. It 's a type of release curve, which is very gentle and musical to learn about! And predictable release curve, which is very gentle and musical fluctuations that can result other. The world 's only optical plugin tube designs examples of VCA comps does set! After the amplifier stage, and the nebula one is likely better a but... Unique laws of physics come into play that otherwise aren ’ t available if stays! Mentioned compressor lies a transducer is: a device that changes one form another... Which give an added warmth to your vocals or instruments has a somewhat action... Very gentle and musical track, move icons, folders and files link this.
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