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optical vs. vca
Old 8th July 2005
Gear Maniac
whosyourdaddy00's Avatar

optical vs. vca

i understand how these compressors work, but what are the general charastics of each, and which is better for what application? i know these are huge generalizations and the proverbial 'use your ears' applies, i'm just curious.

thanks all

Old 8th July 2005
Gear Guru
Drumsound's Avatar
An optical compressor works off of a light source getting brighter as it sees more musical energy. There is a sensor that reacts to the amount of light and lowers the output signal. This is generally a slower and smoother process than a VCA, which is a Voltage Controlled Amplifier. A VCA reacts quicker and more 'drastically' an is often more noticeable when used heavily.

They are both useful for a variety of tones and reasons. If you have some transients that are jumping out are a track you might use a fast VCA to quickly get them without affecting the rest of the track. If you trying to make a vocal smoother sometimes an opto unit is the way to go.
Old 8th July 2005 | Show parent
Gear Maniac
whosyourdaddy00's Avatar


cool man, thanks that makes alotta sense
Old 8th July 2005 | Show parent

Of course, if you have comprehensive envelope controls on the VCA and can set the attack to 100ms+ and select a soft knee, you can get similar results to an opto...


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