I love the Distressor as much as the next guy but in the spirit of fairness (and me being a dickhead) I have a question about the front end of the Distressor.
On some steady state sources (like guitars) the front end of the distressor starts to clip and act strangely. Yeah I'm setting my gain structure correctly... It's not a simple THD issue, it's more like the front end is getting flattened out. Oh, the question:
Is the fragility of the front end what allows the distressor to have it's sound?
I usually will strap a "clean" compressor in front of it to help the situation and fortunately I have found that the Trakker into a Distressor can be utter magic.
The front end of the Distressor is active and fully balanced. Its capable of recieving +26dBm differentially, which should handle just about anything. The one danger you can have these days, which is mentioned in the manual a couple times, is if you are coming from an unterminated transformer device, into the transformerless front end of the Distressor. As in most active devices, the front end can recieve low or medium impedance signals, so one should probably make sure there is a 600 - 1K ohm resistor across a transformer device going into the Distressor. Also, sometimes its just a matter of decreasing the transformer output a little to get below the unterminated transforrmer saturation point.
The fact that you mention guitars makes me think you could have the attack time, or release time too fast, or need to engage the Det HP. Heavy guitars are already super compressed thru clipping, with little dynamic range, BUT... they have a huge amount of low "modulation" frequencies in them. These frequencies could cause nasty crackling on any compressor whose attack is faster than a millisecond... and the Distressor attacks in Microseconds. Try moving the attack up to 3 or 4(or more), the release slightly longer, OR, sometimes a simple click of the Det HP will get rid of any modulation distortion, as stated in the manual.
All the clipping in the Distressor happens after the compressor circuit, as shown in the block diagram in the manual. The front end should have a huge dynamic range, and really never clip, which helps accounts for people liking them on drums and transients, where you can slam 30 dB of gain reduction into them without crapping out.
As always, we'd be glad to look at your Distressor for free, if you think there is a problem!
I know it's working fine (except for below) and yes it's those steady state signals like guitar that do this. I have heard the comment before but working with the attack times and utilizing compressors in series i'm happy with the results.
It's a fine product, i just wanted some clarification and to hear your highly descriptive account of how "that" can happen. I'm sure more people than myself learned something from your response.
BTW i noticed last night that when i power up distressor #1 it reverts to "all lights on" and nuke. is this a battery issue?
Hmmm that does sound like a problem. I think we should look at that unit, honestly. We don't use batteries to back up the memory... its a large capacitor that is supposed to last 20 years or more. Lets get in touch and see whats going on with that unit, pronto. We cant have any of our customers owning something at all flaky!