Voltage-controlled amplifiers, also known as VCA compressors, have the fastest response of the attack and release parameters. VCAs usually have less coloration than optical or tube compressors. In addition, they are fairly similar to digital tape in terms of recording. This type of compressors are cheaper than tube or optical compressors. Voltage-controlled amps provide the highest amounts of gain reduction and the best transparency. As a result, they can easily be applied to functions in which transparency is the main goal.
VCA Compressors and Its Characteristics
When the user pushes VCA compressors to the edge, they might show distortion effects. The less qualified versions of VCA compressors tend to remove the high frequencies of processed audio signals.
Because a VCA compressor uses a voltage-controlled amplifier within its circuit, it is useful to many processes: from mastering tasks to taming down excessive transients. This function allows complete control of attack and release parameters, as well as a smooth response. The VCA chip-style design is trendy for it is a very precise compressor that fits inside a pretty small box. VCA usually use IC chip-based transistors to establish the input voltage. As a result, the player is able to control the resulting gain reduction which translates into a clean and precise compression.
Voltage-controlled amp designs have a colorful sound quality. This sound quality is quite different from the one you get from tube designs. When the control voltage comes from the audio input signal, you can use it as a compressor.
The Dbx 160: an Example
The Dbx 160 became a rather acclaimed VCA compressor in the 70s because of the uniqueness of its sound. It is still common in professional music studios! Its design was one of the most popular solid-state mix buss compressors, even more so when compared to the SSL G series compressor. This equipment became an essential tool for shaping modern recorded music because it has an auto-release setting that is program independent. It also has a straightforward attack, release, threshold, and makeup gain setting. This compressor is fairly transparent and is capable of glueing the mix together. So many famous recording, mix, and mastering engineers swear by it.
On a Final Note
You can find VCA compressors in everything regarding audio, tracking, mixing, and mastering. Of all the analog equivalents, solid-state voltage-controlled amps offer the most precise and controllable gain manipulation. This is why musicians and music engineers prefers them in modern designs.