Multimedia software and hardware development specialist Audified is proud to announce availability of the U73b Compressor effect plug-in for Mac (AAX, AudioUnit, VST2, VST3) and PC (AAX, VST2, VST3) — an authentic emulation of the unique-sounding Sixties-vintage German broadcast compressor/limiter hardware predecessor with which its shares its name (and which, despite its origins, found favour in European mastering circles).
But before delving deeper into Audified’s authentic-sounding U73b Compressor effect plug-in, perhaps a little history lesson is in order here?
After all, only by gaining an appreciation of its namesake hardware predecessor can U73b Compressor be truly appreciated in its own right. Working with the NWDR (Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk) — responsible for public broadcasting in the German states of Hamburg, Lower-Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and North Rhine-Westphalia from September 22, 1945 to December 31, 1955, Telefunken developed the U73, an all-tube, three-stage push/push variable mu design (with a theoretical compression ratio of 100:1), during a three-year period, born out of a need to conform to the high standards set by the IRT (Institut für Rundfunktechnik) — the primary research institute for German-speaking public broadcasting organisations — while seeking a suitable solution for handling full-frequency response FM (Frequency Modulation) radio broadcasts.
By building the U73 into a Danner double-cassette module chassis like its U76 sibling, the two Telefunken designs shared significant circuitry and components, though the U73 went on to become the fastest tube compressor ever built, thanks to its forward-triggered side-chain feature. Fully finalised, the design was licensed to TAB (Tonographie Apparatebau) in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, West Germany (as was), who manufactured this, the last tube compressor in the Telefunken/IRT grey series for almost 30 years, finally discontinuing it in 1980. Nevertheless, its premier price and fixed setup effectively ensured that U73s only made it outside of Germany for one specific (non-broadcast) application — as a final mastering compressor for vinyl-cutting lathes, mostly with an automatic release trigger. TAB even ended up making several versions of the U73 for Telefunken, the most well known being the U73b, used for producing audio recordings mostly, thanks to an added ability to change compression level, as well as external release time control and internal attack time control. Consequently, almost all records recorded and cut in Europe between 1960 and 1980 were mastered through a stereo pair — proof positive that things are not always what they seem!
So there you have it. Yet what was once seen as a must-have mastering tool fell out of favour. Fortunately, times change — as does technology.
Thanks to Audified’s supreme software talent, today the unique sound of the U73b has been authentically captured for any modern-day DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) owner to hear and, of course, make much use of as an easy-to-use effect plug-in. Please welcome, U73b Compressor! Other than transformation from hardy hardware to supreme software, what else does U73b Compressor offer the discerning DAW owner? Well, while modelling the U73b circuitry as it was originally designed, Audified — as evidenced by U73b Compressor’s gorgeous GUI — has helpfully seen fit to add an IN(put) and OUT(put) gain, both before and after the modelled compression circuit to aid adjusting compression in a more modern manner fit for truly 21st Century workflow. Which is why the U73b Compressor plug-in has helpfully also been boosted with a VU (Volume Unit) meter and selectable side-chaining. Can’t say fairer than that, surely?
So while U73b Compressor’s compression controls are always easy to understand, the effect of this unique plug-in is audible from the moment it is ‘switched on’ — just like its namesake hardware predecessor. Its upper-positioned knob acts as a compressor/limiter switch, switching between Kompr (compressor), Durchschalt (bypass), and Begr (limiter) modes. The compressor mode has a lower threshold setting and a gently rising ratio; reversely, the limiter mode provides a higher threshold setting with higher ratio, but still with smoothsounding, soft-knee compression. The lower-positioned knob sets the release time; the first three positions provide fixed release times, while
the three red-coloured positions provide adjustable program content-dependent release time options. Outside the authentic-looking onscreen reproduction of the original U73b front panel, SIDECHAIN selects the signal source for controlling gain reduction.
Ready to rock? U73b Compressor is — predictably, perhaps — perfect for mastering purposes, but also lends itself beautifully to mixing drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and voiceovers. Vintage-sounding compressed/limited recordings are perfectly possible in this day and age with U73b Compressor, that’s for sure! So why not give your recordings a unique-sounding (virtual) vintage makeover, making them sound just like they have been processed by an original U73b? Only in the comfort of your favourite DAW, thanks to Audified’s supreme software
talent! Try before you buy with a downloadable demo. We’re sure you’ll like what you hear!