Buzz Audio SOC-1.1 by creative.control
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.