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Old 2nd May 2003
The Distressor's "daddy"
Dave Derr's Avatar

Fatso as tape emulator

To answer quickly - The Distressor and Fatso have some similarities but theres a lot of difference too, as anyone who owns both would tell you here.

As far as the accuracy of the tape emulation, its far from perfect but that being said, analog tape decks sound different from each other also, even the exact same models, sometimes.

The Distressor is a full featured and controllable compressor, with attack, decay controls as well as a wide selection of ratios. We threw in some wierd distortion generators and a few sidechain filters to help prevent pumping and to control some harsh sources more automatically.

The Fatso has four types of processing, three of which emulate analog tape, and the fourth being some fixed compressors.

1) Broadband saturation is the distortion generator part of the box
2) Tranny is a transformer set up internally to sound like the low frequency emphasis or low frequency harmonic generation that older tape decks produce, as well as some older transformer I/O devices
3) The Warmth circuitry is the most complex and softens the high end dynamically, saturatimg (kind of compressing) the pileup of high frequencies much like analog tape does. The transients and pileup of high frequencies on analog tape intereact with the bias (erase) frequency and start to self erase (or saturate) themselves, attenuating the high frequency content instantly. Engineers strove for years and years to get rid of this effect, including HX Pro which turned down the bias frequency in hopes that it wouldnt erase the real desired "pileup" of high frequencies in the audio. Well... guess what? It was really kind of a nice thing to have the pileup attenuated in lots of cases! This is what our warmth circuit does with a very fast wierd dynamic filter. It works pretty well... I just wish it wasnt hundreds of components inside the dang Fatso.
4) Lastly we threw in some fixed (but future programmable) compressors in the Fatso. Our website is under total renovation but if you check in a week or two, there will be a complete manual there along with some user comments and suggestions.

Anyone who owns a Fatso and a Distressor are welcome to chime in here, even if they really hate them! lol NO piece of gear is perfect and it doesnt do any designer much good if people dont give him negative feedback. The Fatso has all kinds of quirks in the control and interface circuitry but we tried to keep the actual audio path pretty dang spanking!

By the way - the Fatso almost wasnt put into production because of complexity... but thats another story. Thanks!