In an age of software emulations of specific hardware pieces, it’s a pleasant change to see companies thinking outside of the box a bit. I jumped at the chance to review these plugs because, while I love traditional opto compressors, they’re not often the most flexible of processors.

Before delving into the new tricks, let’s first talk a little bit about optical compressor circuits, which may be a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated:

A hardware optical compressor uses a program-dependent light source and a light-dependent photocell to control its detector circuit. Simply put, the louder the audio signal, the brighter the light gets and the greater the gain reduction, but also, the longer the decay or ”release” time becomes. This results in smooth, non-linear compression with few controls—often just gain reduction and makeup gain, as evidenced by the legendary Teletronix LA-2A.

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