Purple Audio 5C1 - Action by babydaddymusic
Spent some time with this over the last couple of days, patching into to different mixes on various instruments.
Coming from the waves CLA and SSL bundles and then graduating to the FMR RNC and RNLA, along with a Joe Meek 3Q, the Action was everything I hoped it would be and more.
The MC77 has a sound, and I think Fletcher nailed it when he said the Purple kind of has that sound as well. The "spirit of the MC77 overall sound" is there. I do think the MC 77 is a little broader or bigger sounding- as it should be- but you can tell these two are related.
You can really here that Purple sound on electric guitar and bass. That thing- the sort of "big, excited" thing is truly awesome.
The controls on the Action require you to spend time listening and making small adjustments. The meters are fast because they show a lot of transient response. On the newer iterations of the Action, they put slower metering in the box, but as Andrew of Purple told me "they are still faster than you might be used to"
Using my patch-bays through my Macke Onyx inserts, I was able to audition the Action on several sources over a period of two days.
1) Kick drum- comparing to the FMR compressors (which I love) the Action has a presence and "it just sounds finished" thing that I guess you pay for when you move up to this level of compressor. Rather than just hearing transparent and useful compression (level taming) you get bigger and more finished sounding. The kick sounded wholly right once I got the basic compressor settings dialed in. When you switch the compressor off (but the sound is still going through the unit) you miss the sound of the unit. It's not just the compression itself- the but bigness that the unit adds. This is different than the FMR which only have a little bit of that analog adding factor.
2) Bass Guitar- One big reason I got this was I wanted to have a unit that helps the bass guitar notes articulate better but in a rounded, full way. Hearing what the MC77 does on bass, I knew I needed to have that Purple thing. You can get a modern, raging SVT sound or you can lower the ratio- put the input and output at 12:00 o'clock and get a 70's Paul McCartney "Silly Love Songs" bass thing going.
If that was all this unit did- it would be worth the price of admission. This put a big smile on my face.
3) Electric guitar- Using a Gretsch Hollow Body, through a Vox AC 15, with a Shure SM57 through the API 512C, I recorded a pick patterny guitar part.
Upon patching the Action in at mix down, the magic appeared. It causes the best part of the VOXness to come forth- allowing the guitar to maintain it's own parking space with excited authority- WITHOUT sounding shrill or tinny.
If this was all the box did, it would be worth it.
4) Vocals- Again- the presence "it's just right thing"- If I'm giving the Action an A+ on 1-3 I give it a B on the vocals. Taking off the vocal made me miss it but not as much of the wow factor on this particular vocal. Still great though.
5) Acoustic Guitar- This is partially my guitars fault and partially my mic placement fault- but I didn't love the Action in acoustic. But, I didn't spend a lot of time on it either. I just didn't feel it added to the acoustic what it did to the other instruments, so I moved on.
6) Snare drum- there's a lot of options with the Action on Snare. You can get a recognizable 1176 snare sound, and you use the output to give the illusion of more snare sizzle.
This is where the envelope shaping and tonal options really become apparent. Somehow, cranking the output changed the tone of the snare without too much additional compression artifact- so it was acting like an adjunctive EQ almost. So if I wanted to make the snare a little more industrial or mean sounding, I could do so without adding and pumping or sucking. That's really where this unit shines- the wide range of attack and release in conjunction with the input and output attenuators.
It's also why some people have had rather bad reactions to the compressor on first run with it. It's not an LA-3A or even the MC 77 for that matter- where it's hard to make something sound like dookie- You can distort and get all sorts of nastiness with the Action.
The more time I spent with it, the more I thought about getting a whole lunchbox full.
Some people have complained about the knobs, and they are not great.
I called Purple this morning to ask about the input knob scratching when I turn it- Andrew told me that this was due to a particular manufacturers pot and he offered to replace it at no charge.
He also went on to say that he would upgrade the knobs for free as well. They have new knobs which are not smooth and are easier to work with.
So, I am now scheming how I can get more of these-