The Smart Research C1 stereo compressor has become a staple in many studios around the world, offering that Solid State Logic 4K console center quad bus compression glue and snap in an outboard 1 unit rack format. While at present there is no lack of SSL style bus compressors on the market in both hardware and software form, but perhaps its the very man that designed it that sets the C1 apart from the rest of the pack. The C1 was designed by Alan Smart in the late 1980’s, drawing on his years of previous experience working for SSL commissioning consoles, engineering records and live touring with acts such at Peter Gabriel (who is coincidentally now the owner of Solid State Logic). If there is anyone with an intimate knowledge of all things SSL, it is Alan Smart.
The Smart C1 bares a close resemblance to the original bus compressor. It uses the same Sifam panel meter except with a reverse throw, and almost identical controls – everything but the auto-fade function. The main functions are the same – threshold, ratio, attack, release, and makeup gain. The one notable difference between the Smart C1 and the SSL 4k Quad bus compressor is the C1 forwards the flexibility of two sets of controls. One for the left channel, and one for the right channel. This makes it particularly handy for mono or dual mono operation. Using it in stereo is as simple as pressing the “stereo” button on the front panel – when engaged both the left and right channels are controlled via the left hand set of front panel controls. Piece of cake.
- For drum or mix-bus compression, try starting with a low ratio, really slow attack and really fast release with the meter hitting about 2dB of gain reduction. It will glue without smashing transients. If you are working with dynamically messy material, try increasing the ratio to 4:1 to slap it back into line a little.
- Dual Mono! A lot of C1 users have noticed that running the unit in dual mono by matching the left and right channel controls visually results in a wider stereo image on stereo sources compared to simply engaging the stereo button.