thread: Gates Sta-Level
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Old 2nd August 2016
Still a Sta-Level Fan!

I was first introduced to the technique of using broadcast compressors for music recording around 1993. What a revelation! That discovery sent me on a radio station treasure hunt which I describe in this thread:

I managed to buy a whole truckload of vintage broadcast compressors during that time, and kept some of the best, while selling off the rest. Among the best of that haul? Gates Sta-Levels. I kept almost all the Sta-Levels.

I imagine the Sta-Level to be a burly good choice for distorted guitar, because it won't sound "pinched". And like you, I find the soft control of the Gates Sta-Level to be a no-brainer for bass guitar, but I mainly use my Sta-Levels on vocals. They have a slightly different character than my other favorite, the Universal Audio 175B. The Sta-Level is a bit deeper and rounder, so it is an excellent choice to balance out the shrill timbre of a female voice that needs to be toned down. However, the Sta-Level will enhance a male voice by exaggerating it's deeper god-like overtones. I packed one of my Sta-Levels in a suitcase and took it to Nashville to record Johnny Cash's vocals for the "Unchained" album. It captured the bold yet vulnerable humanity in Johnny's baritone voice. One of the songs we recorded was "I've Been Everywhere" in which you'll hear the strength of the Sta-Level on Johnny Cash's voice.

I've included a few session photos from the Johnny Cash sessions. Rick Rubin produced, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was Johnny's back-up band, I engineered. That is Johnny and Rick in the polaroids. I took them then drew on them while they were developing. And the black and white photo was taken by photographer Martin Atkins while we were recording at Sound City circa 1996. You'll see Johnny, Rick, Tom Petty (walking out of the picture), Carl Perkins (seated), Tom's tech (damn if I could remember his name!) and me setting up a mic.
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Gates Sta-Level-1johnnycash1-e1386012269164.jpg   Gates Sta-Level-1rickrubin1-e1386011327839.jpg   Gates Sta-Level-johnnycashsessions.jpeg