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A Designs NAIL

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 6 Reviews

What can't you use it on?


22nd December 2011

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter by IGive'nTakeInfo

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
A Designs NAIL

I purchased the A Designs NAIL with the intention of using it on the 2-Bus. I strapped it there for the first week as i ran some mixes through it and got familiar with the two different threshold controls, the mix (direct/compressed signal) control and the side chain filter. As i finally wrapped my head around what these controls were doing I quickly realized the control this box gives you, its amazing.

Mix is obvious, its parallel compression without the headache of busing...its right in the box. so you can crush the signal and then pull back the blend towards direct to get back some of those transients...in essence your just bringing up the lower volume sounds without bringing down the higher volume sounds. The side chain also obvious, it tells the detector to ignore signals below the frequency you choose so kicks/bass don't cause gobs of attenuation on the whole track.

the coolest feature is the threshold and hard threshold. When the hard threshold is "off" the threshold acts like the input of an 1176 or the gain of a la2a in that the more you turn it clockwise, the more gain reduction you are getting. If you set this to a decent amount and then turn the "hard threshold" clockwise you will notice compression still occurs to the same attenuation, however, less often. this is because the amount of gain reduction you choose using the threshold control will only activate when the program material signal passes the "hard threshold" you set.

I have had this box a month now and im loving its possibilities. I started using in on my front end during tracking and its been great on EVERYTHING. kick drum, snr, overheads...electric gtr, bass, acoustic guitar, vocals it just gives u so much control you can dial in a setting for every situation. I do however still prefer using my 1176LN on vocals and bass guitar...but i would not be unhappy if all i had was the NAIL for this job either.

A designs hit it out of the park, thanks!

  • 1
2nd March 2012

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter by robot gigante

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
A Designs NAIL

The Nail's thing is transparent dynamic control over the signal. Its controls let you fine tune the timing of the compression, what frequencies trigger the compression, the nature of the compression itself, and how much of a blend you want. This is a lot of control.

It keeps your mix clean and punchy without stepping on or fuzzing up the low end like many compressors do. Anyone who has run an 808 kick through a slow, colored piece of gear and lost the punch in the sub range knows what I mean. This doesn't do that.

It can also get very fast if you want and the controls are continuous- no wishing the release time could be faster or wishing for a setting in between steps. This makes it a formidable machine for R&B, Hip Hop, Dance, Pop and so on where you really want your percussion to pop and a big, tight low end. If the lows in the mix are a little sloppy for example, it's very easy to tighten them up perfectly with the Nail. I also use it on everything from rock to classical.

A word on transparency- with a sparse arrangement, I have been able to get close to 20db of gain reduction with the Nail and the mix did not fall apart. That is pretty impressive. It does add a subtle tube color. The tube circuit cannot be overdriven however, it goes from clean to hard clip. I think the aesthetic means that it works on a broader range of material.

The dual threshold controls may throw people at the start, personally I found their use pretty intuitive. The more of the hard threshold you use, the more it acts like a limiter, and you set both knobs to find the pocket. Pretty simple.

I am using it on either the 2-bus or the drum bus, and for tracking. It covers most bases for me, the only thing it won't do so well is act as a fuzz box for blowing up drums and such, although it can make them pump nicely.

  • 1
27th January 2016

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter by countrymetalguy

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
A Designs NAIL

After looking over all kinds of 2 Buss compression from API SSL and others I desided on the A- Designs HM2 Nail. The features and tone of this unit are amazing. The 2 different thresholds really help tame signals without sounding over compressed and the parallel feature really helps keep the low end from making your mix pump too hard. After 6 months of using it, I have yet to find a source it "sucks" on. Vocals arent its strong suit, but i could do it in a pinch.
Acoustic guitars and drum overheads get just the right amount of compression and works well as a tracking compressor as well. The tone of it is slick and very "Avalon" sounding in my opinion. A great all purpose 2 buss compressor with tons of versatility.

  • 1
28th January 2016

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter by alk

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
A Designs NAIL

I've had mine for about two months, fantastic sound and control.... I also have a Manley Vari Mu and an Alan Smart C2, this one sounds more transparent and great flexibility... definitely recommended.

  • 1
6 days ago

A-Designs Audio HM2 Nail Compressor/Limiter by PRad

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

SOUND QUALITY

This was the first piece of hardware I really really loved.

To me the sound of this compressor reminds me of the feeling of running your fingers along incredibly clean glass....It might be a strange analogy but it seems right.

The attack and release can be incredibly fast, but regardless of setting (unless you're being an idiot with it) it always feels super transparent.

On sparse mixes I've been able to get somewhere between 16-20 db of reduction without it feeling choked out or reigned in!

The continuous threshold/hard limit and HP filter in the detection circuit makes dialling in what you're imagining very easy once you get used to this set up and allows a lot of versatility, even on complex busses.

During Tracking it often gets use on overheads, bass, piano, acoustic guitar, and it SHINES on creamy vocals.

Mixing wise, it's often strapped across a drum bus or directly on my 2 bus.

EASE OF USE

It took me a little while to get a handle on what the interactions between the threshold and hard limit did. Now that interaction is what I find so unique about this unit.

I do wish there was a way in stereo mode to have the gain and wet/dry be controlled from the 1st channel - it's not terrible but its just one more thing to adjust while tweaking or recalling.

FEATURES

Excellent Feature set.

Versatile threshold settings, attack and release ranging from ultra fast to very slow, a wet/dry mix knob, ability to be used in stereo or dual mono.

BANG FOR BUCK

I gave it a 3 out of 5 simply because it's not a crazy good deal or a total waste of cash.

It's priced appropriately and worth what you pay.

 
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