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A Designs Nail Compressor
Old 31st January 2016
  #1
Gear Maniac
A Designs Nail Compressor

So I got an A Designs Nail Compressor with mix/blend. Pretty sweet. I haven't had much experience with dynamic processing. The only other processor I have is the valley people dynamite comp/limiter/expander/gate. So far I've found that the nail comp is absolutely astounding and parallel compression is a real treat! I vouche for the nail comp as being one of the best comp's out there for the price.
Old 31st January 2016
  #2
Gear Addict
 
toolz's Avatar
 

It's maybe the best 2Bus compressor ever, have it across my SSL, not found anything better yet!
Old 31st January 2016
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I have no reason to every get rid of mine....it is a wonderful tool.
Old 29th March 2017
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Hey all, I just wanted to share a bit about the Nail. First, I've had this thing glued on my mix bus for about 5 years. I think it's just outstanding. To me, the sound is subtle: Ethereal. You can easily get -7dB or more gain reduction peaks on a mix bus and not even "hear" it. If you mix into this as a mix bus comp, and then take the Nail off, the mix just completely falls apart. That's when you realize how good it is. You think transparent compression is "boring?" Try it with any high-end plugin... what you get sounds like a flat hairball, in comparison. I don't know how else to describe it. It's a 3-dimensional sheen that glues your mix together and brings it to life, and brings out the subtle details, without messing up the mix you created.

It's also the only compressor I have that
a) Doesn't totally f up an acoustic guitar. This is the acoustic guitar compressor.
b) Offers full parallel compression options through the mix knobs, which allows deeper compression without artifacts (SOME other comps do this is well)
c) Acts equally well as a blinding-fast limiter that's completely transparent, or an LA-2A style leveler for vocals- totally versatile.

But the real impetus for writing this post is that (after 5 years) I had an AC-blowout on one of the components. I emailed A-Designs, and got an immediate call-back from Peter Montessi himself, in person. He spent time with me on the phone discussing the unit, answered all my questions, followed up by phone after the service was completed, talked with me some more, he's just a great guy.

So there you have it.

For full disclosure & frame of reference, here's a list of my other comps.
API 2500 (prefer on drum bus)
UAD LA-2A
2 Distressors
UAD 1176
Mohog FET76
a few 160x's modded by Jim Williams
2 Fatsos (one UBK, one Empiral Labs)
UAD plugin package of comp's.

Last edited by TheBuffaloCave; 29th March 2017 at 03:27 PM..
Old 29th March 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
Great to hear a positive service experience with gear at that level. very rare. A nail is now on my consideration list.
Old 30th March 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 
antichef's Avatar
I'm still liking mine after a couple of years. Bought it used here and never had an issue with it.
Old 30th March 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 
GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

I've been tracking kik and snare through mine, WoW. Really.
Old 6th April 2017
  #8
Gear Addict
Try it on vocals. I love it! So much so that I'm thinking about buying another so that one can live on the 2 bus.

Dan
Old 7th April 2017
  #9
I have heard this compressor and it really impressed me. If I didn't love my Portico 5043 compressor so much for 2 bus I would buy The Nail.
Old 7th December 2017
  #10
I'm a new Nail user. Man oh man, this thing is transparent as hell! It works really well as a limiter. I know I've got a long road ahead getting to know all the nuances but I haven't been able to make it do anything bad yet. I have an Avalon 747, which I actually love, but that compressor is like balancing on the head of a pin, the sweet spots are so narrow and unforgiving. The Nail is like voodoo, in the way that you can get such a range of settings to work without causing much destruction. I did notice a change in the stereo image that I have to wrap my head around, it's not like it gets narrow, but it's definitely different when AB'd against the dry. And I tried it linked and unlinked.

So what's the secret? Is it just a really sophisticated adaptive attack and release? I'm wondering about the feedback design, cause I noticed something similar with the Portico 5043, in feedback mode you have such a wide sweet spot of acceptable settings, you can take 8-10dbs off and it doesn't really sound squashed. I wouldn't say the Nail is sonically similar but they have that in common. Looking forward to spending more hours with this thing, but honestly, if it was just for limiting, that alone would be worth the price of admission. Bravo A Designs, what an amazing piece of kit!
Old 7th December 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
 
GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
I'm a new Nail user. Man oh man, this thing is transparent as hell! It works really well as a limiter. I know I've got a long road ahead getting to know all the nuances but I haven't been able to make it do anything bad yet. I have an Avalon 747, which I actually love, but that compressor is like balancing on the head of a pin, the sweet spots are so narrow and unforgiving. The Nail is like voodoo, in the way that you can get such a range of settings to work without causing much destruction. I did notice a change in the stereo image that I have to wrap my head around, it's not like it gets narrow, but it's definitely different when AB'd against the dry. And I tried it linked and unlinked.

So what's the secret? Is it just a really sophisticated adaptive attack and release? I'm wondering about the feedback design, cause I noticed something similar with the Portico 5043, in feedback mode you have such a wide sweet spot of acceptable settings, you can take 8-10dbs off and it doesn't really sound squashed. I wouldn't say the Nail is sonically similar but they have that in common. Looking forward to spending more hours with this thing, but honestly, if it was just for limiting, that alone would be worth the price of admission. Bravo A Designs, what an amazing piece of kit!
I have been using mine as a vocal bus color/limiter. It adds a very sweet top to the sound and the compression works so well. I keep rediscovering this thing. In calibrating it though i noticed the high pass knobs are totally out of wack with each other. The gain knobs are pretty off too. No biggy though.
Old 7th December 2017
  #12
Ah, that might be why I noticed the stereo image shift a little. I thought it was the compression rebalancing the instruments. I guess it could be a little of both. Anyway, yeah, the action of the compression sounds fantastic, and the sound of the unit overall is so sweet. I'm psyched to have it here, zero buyer's remorse.
Old 7th December 2017
  #13
On another thread someone mentioned - Feedback compressors have attack and release times that are a function of the ratio setting (there's a nice paper written by the one of the folks at THAT about this), whereas feedforward ones have independent controls - so I wonder if the fact that the Nail has that variable ratio curve in a feedback design is what makes it so especially program dependent and natural sounding. They did say the attack and release don't have a drastic effect when the hard threshold is off.
Old 7th December 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
 
GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
Ah, that might be why I noticed the stereo image shift a little. I thought it was the compression rebalancing the instruments. I guess it could be a little of both. Anyway, yeah, the action of the compression sounds fantastic, and the sound of the unit overall is so sweet. I'm psyched to have it here, zero buyer's remorse.
For unlinked,
I found the spot pretty easy just running test tones at -18 at various frequencies, this way you can set the threshhold and hp and output all the same, i just use a 1db reduction at 1k.
Old 8th December 2017
  #15
I use it un-linked on a 2-buss duties. Keeps stuff poking out on the left from compressing the right channel too much. I've been pretty happy with mine, use it tracking smacking some peaks down a bit going in too with good results.
Old 8th December 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
 
drastic's Avatar
Love the Nail! I've had mine for about 8 months now and haven't really found anything I just don't like it on. Been living in my vocal chain lately though
Old 9th December 2017
  #17
Gear Nut
excellent compressor will never leave my studio
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
AudioKemestry's Avatar
Got a Nail and Tubecore...returned the Nail

Was in need of a mastering grade bus compressor so I picked up an A-Design nail and an IGS Tubecore to A/B. The Nail was a nice unit, but really finicky to get dialed in and the lack of stepped controls was a pain. Plus you can't push the tubes like you can with the Tubecore. Ended up sending back the Nail and keeping the Tubecore. That said, I'd like to get Nail down the road and use it strictly as a limiter. The 2nd threshold feature is perfect for that.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Head
 
jontornblom's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioKemestry View Post
Was in need of a mastering grade bus compressor so I picked up an A-Design nail and an IGS Tubecore to A/B. The Nail was a nice unit, but really finicky to get dialed in and the lack of stepped controls was a pain. Plus you can't push the tubes like you can with the Tubecore. Ended up sending back the Nail and keeping the Tubecore. That said, I'd like to get Nail down the road and use it strictly as a limiter. The 2nd threshold feature is perfect for that.
Very interesting comment, considering that I was looking at picking one up to compliment my tubecore/replace another comp I just let go. Might go with the OCL-2 I’ve been eyeing up as well. The tubecore 3U is seriously under rated IMHO.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
AudioKemestry's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jontornblom View Post
Very interesting comment, considering that I was looking at picking one up to compliment my tubecore/replace another comp I just let go. Might go with the OCL-2 I’ve been eyeing up as well. The tubecore 3U is seriously under rated IMHO.
Never used any Pendulum Audio gear but I'm sure the OCL-2 is a quality piece. Its got great reviews. However, having used the Nail first hand and seen how fast and effective it can be as a limiter...on top of having a mix knob...I would go with the Nail as a limiter personally. Either way you can't go wrong. Thumbs up on the Tubecore. Its not under rated in my books. Lol.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Head
 
jontornblom's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioKemestry View Post
Never used any Pendulum Audio gear but I'm sure the OCL-2 is a quality piece. Its got great reviews. However, having used the Nail first hand and seen how fast and effective it can be as a limiter...on top of having a mix knob...I would go with the Nail as a limiter personally. Either way you can't go wrong. Thumbs up on the Tubecore. Its not under rated in my books. Lol.
That’s really cool that the Nail can be used as a limiter. I have the Pendulum PL-2 already, so that’d be a bit redundant. The OCL-2 is a done deal now, at a deadly price, but don’t have it yet. I have experience with exact OCL-2 I’m buying and know it so it’s a pretty sure thing for me.

Sorry for off topic, OP!
Old 3 days ago
  #22
Gear Addict
 

does anyone know how the Nail compression compares to the Pete's place BAC 500?
Old 3 days ago
  #23
Isn't that a FET compressor? The Nail is very fast but it doesn't have anything like the hard edged sound I associate with FET compressors. To me it sounds more like an opto, but a very fast one.
Old 3 days ago
  #24
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boneshowell View Post
does anyone know how the Nail compression compares to the Pete's place BAC 500?
You can hear both of them in our Clipalator compressor folder, they are pretty wildly different. The Nail has a smoother range of control for sure, from tracking all the way to stereo buss mixing. The BAC is a great FET capable of some very grabby compression by comparison, although smoother than your typical 1176.
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