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Federal compressor Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 26th October 2007
  #1
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Federal compressor

I know these are REALLY rare, I'd love to know why these are so highly regarded

-a
Old 26th October 2007
  #2
Led
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Led's Avatar
Because Michael Brauer has one?
I have 2 I bought from an old ham radio guy years ago, I won't say how little they cost me. I use them for BV's, sometimes acoustic gtr groups. Some use them in parallel on bass and more bottomy stuff because they like what they do to the midrange.
The transformers have a nice frequency curve to them for stuff that doesn't need too much bottom, but they need a bit of work on them to make them useful. I certainly wouldn't call them a desert island comp or a swiss army knife. They look cool and have a reference manual from the US Army, maybe there's something in that. I saw one advertised here in Oz for $2500 AU and nearly fell off my chair. IMHO they certainly aren't worth that, but I like mine.
Old 26th October 2007
  #3
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adam_f's Avatar
The FEDERAL AM864/U is fantastic on bass!!! Follow it with an 1176 for more flavor.
Old 26th October 2007
  #4
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leaper's Avatar
 

Used a AM864/U and really liked how it instantly fattened guitars and gave a dark but gritty colouration. Didn't like the bursts of distortion it would give when it encountered a louder transient.. this proved to be impossible to deal with on some songs. so it didn't get used.
i'm sure this was because the thing was unmodded. (think it's being given "the operation" as this is being written!)
However it's color and thickness made a strong impression and it would certainly be a first choice for adding balls to certain guitars... never tried it on bass.
Can't really compare it's sound to anything else. One of the quirkiest compressors i've used.
Old 26th October 2007
  #5
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FredrikCarno's Avatar
 

hello

I've got a federal I use from time to time..
A funny thing about the manual, since the federal compressor was built for military use, it has a section about how you should destroy it if the enemy was trying to get a hold of it in the battle field
Old 26th October 2007
  #6
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Federal are rare vintage gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by tubehead View Post
The FEDERAL AM864/U is fantastic on bass!!! Follow it with an 1176 for more flavor.
Are they so expensive because they are so rare?
Old 26th October 2007
  #7
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Paul Hammond's Avatar
 

We started using the Federal Tube Limiter long before anyone knew what it was. The first one I owned was given to me over fifteen years ago, I still have it. I rebuilt it and started using it in our earliest incrnation of our home studio. I was working in some bigger, more well known rooms and was able to turn a few heads with the sound of this unknown but very cool vintage tube limiter amp. I then researched and found more at Hamfests, and from ham radio and military surplus enthusiasts. I probably owned at least eight of them. The first ones I sold for maybe $150. The second run was about $250. Then they started to go for $5-600. I think the last ones I had when I was selling used gear were at about $800 seven years ago. I do not know what they are worth now. Some of the ones I sold went to some very high profile clients. The output of these units could hit +20DB output level easily. I would always put a passive resistive pad on the outputs to calm them down at about 3DB of gain reduction. All the ones I owned sounded great. None of them ever gave distortion spikes. I would use sprague orange drops in the signal path and a 1 mf metallized foil 250 vdc cap for the time release cap. I used to get more questions on that piece of gear than the others in my big old school tube rack. I still use my first one occasionally, It looks right at home under the RCA BA6A and over the Pultec EQH2!
Old 26th October 2007
  #8
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Federals go for $2800

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Hammond View Post
We started using the Federal Tube Limiter long before anyone knew what it was. The first one I owned was given to me over fifteen years ago, I still have it. I rebuilt it and started using it in our earliest incrnation of our home studio. I was working in some bigger, more well known rooms and was able to turn a few heads with the sound of this unknown but very cool vintage tube limiter amp. I then researched and found more at Hamfests, and from ham radio and military surplus enthusiasts. I probably owned at least eight of them. The first ones I sold for maybe $150. The second run was about $250. Then they started to go for $5-600. I think the last ones I had when I was selling used gear were at about $800 seven years ago. I do not know what they are worth now. Some of the ones I sold went to some very high profile clients. The output of these units could hit +20DB output level easily. I would always put a passive resistive pad on the outputs to calm them down at about 3DB of gain reduction. All the ones I owned sounded great. None of them ever gave distortion spikes. I would use sprague orange drops in the signal path and a 1 mf metallized foil 250 vdc cap for the time release cap. I used to get more questions on that piece of gear than the others in my big old school tube rack. I still use my first one occasionally, It looks right at home under the RCA BA6A and over the Pultec EQH2!
Last one on eBay went for something like $2,800thumbsup
Old 26th October 2007
  #9
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norman_nomad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
Last one on eBay went for something like $2,800thumbsup
Yup. It was mine. heh
Old 27th October 2007
  #10
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adam_f's Avatar
These are mine.

Old 27th October 2007
  #11
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have used it before.

gotta say, its not a bad unit.......but its not worth $2800.........more like $200.......
Old 27th October 2007
  #12
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adam_f's Avatar
They are kind of like a Gates STA-Level. They are fantastic beasts once you learn how to use them.
Old 27th October 2007
  #13
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vernier's Avatar
Federal aren't my fave, but I'd take it over any solid-state limiter.
Old 27th October 2007
  #14
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It usually lives on bass, souds great makes every note punch.
Old 27th October 2007
  #15
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norman_nomad View Post
Yup. It was mine. heh
This one sold for $2800, they are rare and unique for sure
Old 27th October 2007
  #16
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adam_f's Avatar
I too use them on bass, vocals, gtrs. With bass sometimes I follow it with an 1176/MC77.
Old 27th October 2007
  #17
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RedWallStudio's Avatar
 

Have you ever replaced the tubes in them? I'm debating if I should with mine, but don't know where to start. It is great on bass an acoustic guitar btw.
Old 27th October 2007
  #18
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adam_f's Avatar
I have not replaced them in mine; the only thing I did were the caps. These units we're hardly touched when I got them.


FWIW, the MAXSON Dept. Of Commerce FAA sitting on top is INSANE!
Old 28th October 2007
  #19
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I've had five of them at one time or another. I really like them on bass (upright or electric in certain situations) and for vocals that need to step out from the speakers. I don't think they're THAT rare, but maybe they're harder to come by these days. Anyway, most of mine behaved the same once all the normal "recording" sort of mods were done to them. I do have one that's a REAL gem, but I still like the others just fine.

If someone's dying to have one for $2800, I do have one I'd part with for that.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 28th October 2007
  #20
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Which mods did you have done?
Old 28th October 2007
  #21
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mattallen's Avatar
 

I've got two my tech is checking out and calibrating now. They are for sale. Pm me with offers, if I don't sell them here they are off to ebay.
Old 29th May 2014
  #22
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127Riot's Avatar
 

The Feds!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tubehead View Post
These are mine.


Those Feds look so sick!!!

Coolest looking comp I have ever seen, and read a lot of great things about them, I just heard a track my friend did I asked about signal chain and he said the fed was on drum buss and bass, gnarly with smooth cool mids is what I think they sound like, I won't know for sure until I get it in my place.

Can't wait.
Old 30th May 2014
  #23
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I've owned two of them. I can see how some people wouldn't consider them to be very amazing boxes. The second one I bought was so-so. Didn't really have any excitement and sort of a stale tone. But man, the first one I bought... outstanding. Just makes gtrs, bass, vocals, fill out it an amazing way. Also has crazy amounts of hair and harmonics. I can't say I've ever used it for dynamic control, more like a decapitor in real life. Its one of the best distortion boxes I've ever used.

I've kept the original I bought and sold (traded?) the 2nd. I bought the first one for $340 and the second one for $400. I don't consider them to be all that rare. I see them for sale all the time. I think $2800 is outrageous, happy for the seller, but I'd be bummed if I was in the market for one.

They need the output padded down and a lot of people move the 2 pots (threshold and current) to the front. There's also two versions, one of which is high passed at 100? 200 maybe? which I would imagine is not very useful.

I just got a NOS meter from LEEDS for mine and took the paint down to metal since it had some rust happening. Looks badass like some trussart guitar and sounds even badder! (more bad)
Old 30th May 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myles83 View Post
I've owned two of them. I can see how some people wouldn't consider them to be very amazing boxes. The second one I bought was so-so. Didn't really have any excitement and sort of a stale tone. But man, the first one I bought... outstanding. Just makes gtrs, bass, vocals, fill out it an amazing way. Also has crazy amounts of hair and harmonics. I can't say I've ever used it for dynamic control, more like a decapitor in real life. Its one of the best distortion boxes I've ever used.

I've kept the original I bought and sold (traded?) the 2nd. I bought the first one for $340 and the second one for $400. I don't consider them to be all that rare. I see them for sale all the time. I think $2800 is outrageous, happy for the seller, but I'd be bummed if I was in the market for one.

They need the output padded down and a lot of people move the 2 pots (threshold and current) to the front. There's also two versions, one of which is high passed at 100? 200 maybe? which I would imagine is not very useful.

I just got a NOS meter from LEEDS for mine and took the paint down to metal since it had some rust happening. Looks badass like some trussart guitar and sounds even badder! (more bad)

How can you tell the difference between the 2 versions?

Hi passed at 100 that's a cut.
Old 1st June 2014
  #25
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
I thought I remember like 800-6k limitation or something like that

Last edited by Vintageidiot; 2nd June 2014 at 03:15 AM.. Reason: spelling...
Old 2nd June 2014
  #26
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Quote:
How can you tell the difference between the 2 versions?

Hi passed at 100 that's a cut.
The frequencies are stamped on one of the transformers if I'm remembering correctly
Old 2nd June 2014
  #27
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Seamus TM's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myles83 View Post
The frequencies are stamped on one of the transformers if I'm remembering correctly
Hey Myles!

I think that the freq range is stamped on the limited bw version.
The full bw version has no freq reference on the transformer.

I think that's how it goes, anyway.
Old 2nd June 2014
  #28
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iangomes's Avatar
I have never seen a real 'full bandwidth' version. Does anybody here actually have one?!
Old 3rd June 2014
  #29
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Marcocet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by iangomes View Post
I have never seen a real 'full bandwidth' version. Does anybody here actually have one?!
Yep.

I've seen probably seven or eight different builds of the things. The "federal" part is that the government spec the design, but tons of different companies built them. You'll see the same thing with those Department of Commerce comps. I've seen ones built by four different companies and they all look essentially the same. However due to differences in part supplies (particularly transformers) they all sound a little bit different.

The AM-864/U is a particular case. I'd imagine that the feds specified that it function within a certain frequency range. Some manufacturers took that to mean that it should only work in that range, others just made sure it was to spec within that range.

The one we have gets pretty heavily used on bass, but I've used ones that were garbage for bass, so it's a difficult unit to discuss on GS. If you find them cheap pick them up! If you're thinking about paying a premium I wouldn't do it unless you can actually use the thing a bit first, no matter what the seller claims is printed on the transformers.
Old 3rd June 2014
  #30
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
100-5000
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