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Buzz Audio SOC-1.1

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

A high quality and versatile comp. Can add a lovely subtle sheen to the audio

13th January 2012

Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by creative.control

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

The Buzz Audio SOC1.1 Compressor is an optical compressor that uses a unique design circuit that makes sure the compression is "in tune" with the audio.

The control panel is neatly layed out, the pots available are; a drive control (which is effectively the threshold control), output control, ratio and release. The attack control is in form of a three way switch, which offers; "slow", "fast" or "auto".

Each channel has a meter switch, that allows you to go from input, gain reduction and output, which is very useful for keeping check of levels.

The is also a bypass switch for each channel. On the right hand side of the unit, there is a global switch that alternates "separate" (each channel operating independently) or "link" (which links each channel and the channel A controls will also control channel B).

In use; I've found the SOC1.1 to be very intuitive. My main application is using it on the mix buss, I've found it adds a very subtle silky gloss to the sound, it does something very nice to the low mids and very slightly tames high end.

I generally never go past 1 or 2 dbs of gain reduction on a mix and the SOC1.1 works well for this application. When doing any more than 2dbs of gain reduction, I've found the SOC1.1 to start loosing a bit of high end and the stereo image starts to collapse a little, so it perhaps not not be an appropriate choice for anyone who wants to really slam a mix.

I've also used the SOC1.1 for tracking bass guitar and vocals, where it worked well. At higher ratio settings it remains relatively transparent, only imparting that slightly glossy character (as mentioned earlier), which simply sounds nice! I've found however that I wouldn't want to commit to that sound every time I track, so I now leave the SOC1.1 firmly on my mix buss, hardly doing anything, but I do miss it when it's bypassed.

The build quality of this unit is excellent, everything feels very solid and the meters are clear and accurate. Although relatively expensive it sits well among it's peers and offers good value for money.

30th June 2013

Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by warlordpriest

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

Ok, here's the deal about Buzz Audio as I see it. Maybe one reason you don't hear a lot about this company is because those in the know are keeping it to themselves, so for all you, newbies, and people on a budget like me who have struggled to try to find the kind of gear that is truly game changing here's my take so far. I saw someone wrote a "bla bla bla" review about one of their outstanding products. Just bla, bla, bla? That's it. No, that can't stand as the only review here on Gearslutz.
First off, it took many years of research, trial and error, and general ego checking before I finally could accept the fact that you generally get what you pay for in this business.
I'm talking about long sleepless nights, checking out what compressor or preamp gives you the most bang for the buck...sifting through posts from every
audio forum on line, checking gear lists of heavy hitting studios, reading reviews, specs, and opinions, as well as making several purchases of cheap gear that I thought would fit the bill, only to find out that the sound was wimpy. It didn't come close to sounding like what I had in my mind, the sound of a good warm compressor.
I've never been privy to demo and LA2A or 3A, but the sound has been described in so much detail that I pretty much have a sonic image of it imprinted in my brain, and a clear idea of what it would do to my music ...if all the descriptions are accurate. And I have been specificity told by at least one old timer and heavy hitter on Gearslutz that I need and LA3A "or two". (or two??! Holy crap. How long is it gonna take to get that kind of money??)
But, truth be told, I do like my compressors in pairs, just like my preamps.
Tons of respect for Universal Audio, by the way. Just for the record, I've never been in a bonafide recording studio but their plug ins helped be get a general idea of what certain gear can do. The only piece of UA software (models of their proprietary units) that had any level of effectiveness on my music was the LA2A, so I know I'm looking in the right ballpark. Kool, but that money thang is the hard part The price, and the fact that no matter how good it sounds, its still a design from the past that may or may not suit my present needs and situation.
Here's the skinny on the Buzz SOC1.1. Finally after 8 months of financial struggle my Buzz SOC1.1 arrived this week and I had a chance to run a couple of highly dynamic mixes through it. And yes! Eureka, I have found it, the sound that was in my head. (Oh yeah, this is all subjective.)
Not a lot of settings to share because to tell you the truth, one thing that interested me most were the Auto settings for attack and release, because for us newbies, that setting, at least gives you a place to start from and frees you from worry about really messing things up, not knowing what you're doing. At very modest settings and less than 2 dbs of gain reduction the results were magic.

Not "like" magic. Friggin' Magic!

More subjective adjectives: Flattering, Warm, Fattening, Smooth, Even, Softly enveloping, (uh oh. sexual overtones here

My first thought upon hearing it was, how is he getting this sound with no tubes, no transformers, and no tape???Maybe an engineer can tell you. I've read the descriptions and specs on how it works until my eyes glazed over.
But I already have my answer.
One word.
First impressions:
The general vibe is that this is a piece of gear that will last a lifetime or more.
Looks and feels like 2 LA3A's, especially the controls, but with additional refinements that are not available on those models. The "Classic" setting on this unit , which is basically Auto attack, covers That ground like a big dog.
Another refinement is attack speed, formerly an inherent weakness of optical compressors. The slow attack speed of the LA2A is one of the reasons they are frequently chained to an 1176, so the faster 1176 can catch the fastest peaks first and smooth them out. The SOC1.1 is lightning fast, maybe the fastest optical comp on the market. The attack time of 1mS is further speeded up by an intelligent circuit that recognizes program material and attacks even faster, excellent for percussive signals. I certainly couldn't sneak anything past it, especially in the auto attack mode.
On the master buss the fast attack also rounds off sibilance without taking away punch, similar to tape. Mastering with this would be a cakewalk for me.
Build quality is excellent.
Very sturdy and the dials are also firmly seated with precision and line up with each other easily and precisely.
Metering, or whatever you call the way the VUs and are seated accurate to a hairsbreadth.
Stereo imaging:rock solid.
Sounds like what I imagine good tube gear sounds like. (I know what cheap tube gear sounds like, and also cheap gear with upgraded tubes.)
Preferred by some to ALL of the vintage units.
Now I know why.
Best compression I've Ever heard, hands down, at least for my kind of music (smooth whatever)
No more compression worries for me.
Finally got that handled.

If you're not into a lot of pumping and artifacts, this is your baby!
Highly recommended!

Tools, not toys, gentlemen and ladies.
There are no shortcuts.
That's all I've got...except the Buzz MA2.2 pre is next on my list.

30th June 2013

Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by Jeff Jasper

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

See also: BuzzAudio ARC 1.1 Channel Strip

The buzzaudio SOC 1.1 has an identical circuit to the compressor in the ARC 1.1 Analog Recording Channel, with the substitution of analog VU meters rather than LED ladders. Some old timers would say that's an improvement.

11th October 2013

Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by musicandstuff

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


This was my first analog compressor (maybe 5 years ago?). I had frequently used LA3As in studios prior to purchasing so I felt I knew the ballpark of what I wanted. It did not disappoint. It shares the nice subtle glossiness or sheen I feel an LA3A also imparts to the audio that has been processed.


I have used it on vocals, bass, guitars, acoustic, strings, synths, overheads percussion, and the mix bus. It is certainly versatile. There has not been a time I have used it and thought "this is not cutting it". I like it the most for acoustic / vocals / bass, in these applications it has really shone on numerous occasions.

Ease of use?

It is not the easiest thing in the world to dial up a the perfect sound with but certainly not difficult. Once you have used it a few times it wouldn't be much more that 20 seconds to a minute to feel you have really nailed the compression sound. Using it with stereo material can be a little difficult getting both sides just right but not a big issue (non stepped knobs)


Clean generally, quite transparent. It does a little high end sheen thing, particularly when it digs a little deeper. Almost it focuses things a little?

It bunches up a little in the low-end when it grabs a lot and I end up cutting a little here in vocals say, but it is not an ugly bunching up. It can add a bit of meat to acoustics or electrics.

You can make it grab and rip and pump if you want. It doesn't sound bad doing this but there are a few compressors I feel are easier to dial this sound in with. I have a couple of Buzz Potions and a couple of 1176s that lap that sound up with a bit more ease and aggression. So if you are wanting the compressor to do primarily that I would go elsewhere.

I use it occasionally on mix bus. It is super clean. I had lined up for a OTB job a couple months ago a Neve 2254, Manley VariMu, SSL-G Comp, and the SOC 1.1. In comparison to the others it felt by far the least coloured and most transparent. It sounded like apart from a little sheen and control it almost left the mix unaffected. It really amazed me how transparent it was, but I hardly used it in the end on the mix bus as the others (mainly 2254 and Manley) gave more mojo and texture. It certainly does help give a little more love to ITB mixing in my wee personal studio though.

Build quality and price?

Price wise it is great having BUZZ made in New Zealand, it is cheaper than importing so a no brainer in comparison to the opto competition. It is well built, looks good, nothing has broken in hundred of hours use and it doesn't look like anything will anytime soon. No issues

I would highly recommend this product.

28th January 2016

Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by nick8801

  • 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

I first heard of Buzz audio when I was getting an album mastered a few years back. The engineer had a Buzz REQ 2.2, and couldn't stop gushing over how great it was. As I am always intrigued by new gear, I went home that night and looked up all the Buzz Audio products to get acquainted with the brand. After familiarizing myself with with the product line, I quickly determined that the SOC 1.1 was something that I needed in my studio. As a fan of optical compression, I like that it can do that pleasing LA2A style thing, where the audio get a little larger than life, and sort of floats a little closer to your face out of the speakers. But because of it's unique attack/release times it's also way more versatile than your average two knob opto. I love using it on electric guitars to tame some spikiness, but keep them in your face. It is very LA3Aish in that regard. On bass, it will definitely knock the bass right into place, while at the same time enhancing the low mid presence that you need to help a bass cut through in the mix. I like it a lot on drums as well, although without a side chain, you do have to watch your kicks, as the bass drum can lose a little something if you push it too hard. I've used it on mix buss with good results on some jazz and acoustic records I was working on, however it would not be my first choice for more aggressive styles of music. Many people describe this comp as transparent, but I have to disagree. While it doesn't leave quite the sonic footprint of many other famous compressors out there, it does have a very pleasing character of it's own that most definitely enhances almost everything I run through it. Buzz Audio has managed to build a very useful, toneful comp, that can be a real studio workhorse. I would keep it at the top of your list if you are in the market for some new compression in your studio.

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