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3.75 3.75 out of 5, based on 1 Review

Two-channel compressor with comprehensive controls & sidechain features

31st January 2016

BSS DPR-402 by BN1studio

  • Sound Quality 3 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75

Industry-standard 1U stereo compressor from Brooke Siren Systems in the UK. The DPR402 was ubiquitous in the live sound industry but is also a good studio compressor with lots of flexibility

The DPR402 is very adaptable - it'll do high-quality compression and limiting, de-essing and loudness enhancement. It'll do savage pumping compression as well, if you want. This is a compressor that needs some learning to find the best settings. Once you're up to speed, though, you'll find it's capable of lots of effects including sidechain pumping and ducking. The manual contains all the information you'll need and covers the unit in lots of detail

The front panel is pretty busy but is generally well laid-out and easy to use. The two bypass switches sit in the centre of the panel and bypass is by relays. The compressor has switchable attack & release times, including an auto release setting, and the compression ratio is continuously variable between 1:1 and ∞:1. The peak limiter level is adjustable and the attack time switchable between fast & slow. The de-esser has dedicated level & frequency controls and there is a compression / de-ess wide / de-ess narrow switch. Each channel has a momentary switch to monitor the sidechain - a very useful feature which makes it much easier to set up key signals

The LED metering is extremely useful. There are separate displays for output level - which can be switched momentarily to read input level - and for gain reduction. The gain reduction metering shows levels below threshold - extremely useful for setting up

Available settings

  • Compression
  • HF re-emphasised compression
  • HF re-emphasised compression (more pronounced)
  • LF re-emphasised compression
  • Wideband LF-controlled compression
  • Narrow LF-controlled compression
  • Wideband Expander
  • Expander (HF or LF-controlled)
  • External gain control (for pumping or ducking)
  • Amplitude-controlled mixing
  • Frequency-dependent compression using an EQ in the sidechain
  • Peak limiting
  • De-essing
  • De-essing wide with simultaneous compression
  • De-essing wide with full dynamic control
  • De-essing HF with full dynamic control

The back panel of the DPR402 has inputs & outputs on XLR connectors plus a barrier strip with jumpers. These are used to to set configurations such as high-frequency emphasis, low-pass filtering and expand (over-infinity) modes for the side chain. The back panel also has the stereo link switch and a fast / slow limiter switch for each channel. Early DPR402s were wired Pin 3 hot and it's advisable to modify them to interface with modern gear. Power input is via a fixed cable

I found the DPR402 fun to work with. It responds very well to changes in attack & release times, giving good control over the way the compressor works with the tempo of the track. Low compression ratios work well and the unit sounds good with low-to-medium amounts of gain reduction. The peak limiter is savage when used to excess but would be a useful tool for setting a peak level for live work or for limiting brief peaks when mixing or mastering. If you're a sidechain specialist this is the hardware compressor for you - it has all the options for easy (or complex) sidechaining

The DPR402 is an adaptable, flexible unit that covers all bases - stereo bus compression, sidechaining, de-essing, limiting and expansion. It repays experimentation - the more you use it, the better it gets

These were expensive items when new. In the case of the DPR402, buying vintage means good build quality, lots of flexibility and excellent metering, all for the price of a very average, new compressor

Downsides are rather fragile plastic shafts on the pots, sticky front-panel push-switches, incandescent bulbs in the in/out switches and the power switch placed immediately below the in/out switches. The front panel has soft, easily-chipped paint and looks tatty when marked. The stereo link and peak limit fast / slow switches are hidden on the back panel. The 1U case is deep & heavy and can suffer from bent chassis, ill-fitting front panels, failed output citrcuitry and general damage. BSS no longer supports the DPR-402

My final critiscism is a damning one - I don't think the DPR-402 is particularly clean when using large amounts of gain reduction. To my ears it sounded harsh & unmusical when pushed but, when used within its limits, sound quality is fine, if perhaps not up to the standards of a modern VCA compressor

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