why the Thrillseeker compressors complement each other so well

Audio compressors use either a “feed forward” or “feedback” design to control the gain of an audio signal. In a feed forward compressor, the input signal is used directly to control the gain of the output signal. Essentially, the compressor compares the input signal to a threshold and reduces the gain of the output signal if the input signal exceeds the threshold. In a feedback compressor, the output signal is fed back into the compressor and used to control the gain of the input signal. So, the compressor compares the output signal to a threshold and reduces the gain of the input signal if the output signal exceeds the threshold. Both feed forward and feedback compressors can be effective at controlling the dynamic range of an audio signal, but they operate in slightly different ways and do have different characteristics in terms of their sound and response.

However, the specific sound of a device depends largely on other features of the circuit design and its components. For example, an optoelectric compressor uses a photoresistor or photodiode to detect and control the degree of gain reduction of the signal. But the make-up amplifier afterwards may contribute the most to the sound, depending on its design (tube or solid state). A variable gain tube compressor, on the other hand, uses a vacuum tube to control the gain of the compressor. The vacuum tube is used to amplify the signal, and the gain of the compressor is controlled by changing the bias voltage of the tube. This alone provides a very typical, distinctive sound that is very rich in harmonic overtones.

Both opto-electrical and variable-mu tube compressors are commonly used in audio production to control the dynamic range of a signal, but they operate in different ways and can produce different tonal characteristics. Opto-electrical compressors are known for their fast attack times and smooth release characteristics, while variable-mu tube compressors are known for their warm and smooth sound.

bringing mojo back – volume 2

ThrillseekerVBL is an emulation of a vintage broadcast limiter design that follows the classic Variable-Mu design principles from the early 1950s. These tube-based devices were initially used to prevent audio overloads in broadcast transmission by managing sudden level changes in the audio signal. From today’s perspective, and compared to digital dynamic processors, they appear to be rather slow and can be considered more of a gain structure leveler. However, they still shine when it comes to gain riding in a very musical way – they’ve written warmth and mojo all over it.

ThrillseekerVBL is a modded version that not only features basic gain control, but also gives detailed access to both compression behavior and the characteristic of tube circuit saturation effects. Used in subtle doses, this provides the analog magic we so often miss when working in the digital domain while overdriving the circuit achieves much more drastic musical textures as a creative effect.

ThrillseekerVBL offers an incredibly authentic audio transformer simulation that models not only the typical low-frequency harmonic distortion, but also all the frequency- and load-dependent subtleties that occur in a transformer-coupled tube circuit and that contribute to the typical mojo we know and love from the analog classics.

new in version 2

Conceptually, the mkII version has been refined in that the peak limiting itself is no longer the main task but versatile and musically expressive gain control as well as a thrilling saturation experience. The saturation is now an integral part of the compression and is perfectly suited for processing transient-rich material. Both compression and saturation can be individually activated and controlled.

The circuit-related frequency loss in the highs has been almost eliminated and the brilliance control – originally intended just for compensation – can now also perform exciter-like tasks. The bias control has been extended to shape the harmonic spectrum in much greater detail by allowing the contribution of second order harmonics as well as the adjustment of the saturation behavior in the transient area of the signals. The transformer circuit has also been technically revised not only to resolve all the subtleties realistically but also to reproduce an overall tighter sound image.

ThrillseekerVBL has become a real tonebox, able to reproduce a wide range of tonalities. It provides access to the attack and release behavior and all compression controls can also affect the saturation of the signal, even when the compression function is turned off. This allows specific textures of signal saturation to be realized. As with the good old outboard devices, the desired sound colorations can be achieved just by controlling the working range. And if too much of a good thing is used, the DRY/WET control simply shifts down a gear.

To further improve the user experience some additional UI elements have been added giving more visual feedback. Although oversampling has been added, the actual cpu load was significantly reduced thanks to efficient algorithms and assembler code optimizations.

ThrillseekerVBL mkII will be released October 14th for Windows VST in 32 and 64bit as freeware.

announcing Thrillseeker VBL – Vintage Broadcast Limiter

Bringing mojo back – Thrillseeker VBL is an emulation of a “vintage broadcast limiter” following the classic Variable-Mu design principles from the early 1950’s. They were used to prevent audio overshoots by managing sudden signals changes. From today’s perspective, and compared to brickwall limiters, they are rather slow and should be seen as more of a gain structure leveler, but they still are shining when it comes to perform gain riding in a very musical fashion – they have warmth and mojo written all over.

Thrillseeker VBL is a “modded” version, which not only has the classic gain reduction controls but also grants detailed access to the amount and appearance of harmonic tube amplifier distortion occurring in the analog tube circuit. Applied in subtle doses, this dials in that analog magic we often miss when working in the digital domain, but you can also overdrive the circuit to have more obvious but still musical sounding harmonic distortion (and according side-effects) for use as a creative effect.

On top, Thrillseeker VBL offers an incredibly authentic audio transformer simulation which not only models the typical low-end harmonic distortion but also all the frequency and load dependent subtleties occurring in a transformer coupled tube circuit, and which add up to that typical mojo we know from the analog classics. This would not have been possible with plain waveshaping techniques but has been realized with my innovative Stateful Saturation approach, making it possible to model circuits having a (short) sort of memory.

Release date is not yet confirmed but most probably will be in May this year.

the beauty of opto-electrical compression

PhotoresistorOpposed to VCA, Variable-Mu or FET based approaches, opto-electrical compression takes advantage of using a light-sensitive resistor and a small light emitter (a LED or electroluminescent panel) to obtain a gain reduction voltage in the sidechain path. This technique is well-known to add some smoother gain riding characteristics to the signal because of the specific attack and release response which comes from the inertia and inherent memory effect of the photoresistor element. [Read more…]