Lookahead and the FET Compressor
Tony Maserati, December 2011

Transients, what do you do with them? Well, with compressors we can make them pop, slap, grab only half of them while letting the rest pass, or we can stomp on them like they stole something. Depending on what type of compressor you use (VCA, FET, Opto, Vari Mu, etc.) you'll get different sounding results. For instance, the LA 2A became a classic Leveling Amplifier because its fixed medium attack and slow release time usually has a smoothing effect on things like bass and vocals.

You can get that smooth sound we all love about slower attack times, but you can also catch transients.

On the other hand, Field Effect Transistor (FET) compressors, are extremely fast compressors. If you're reading this, you probably already know about the 1176-a compressor that sounded like no other box in its day. You could use it to pound room mics, thwak a snare, or gently control vocals while tracking. Softube's FET Compressor picks up with that tradition, but with some upgrades that really modernize the sound of everyone's favorite FET compressor.

The FET compressor is a plugin that actually knows the future!

My favorite upgrade though, and one you should really check out, is the lookahead function. It's a plugin that actually knows the future!* But seriously, the nice thing about it is that you get that smooth sound of a slower attack time, but you can also catch transients, making the FET compressor one of the most versatile tools in my arsenal. You can get that smooth sound we all love about slower attack times, but you can also catch transients. Experiment with it and have fun!

*) OK, well not really. Lookahead compression really splits the input signal, and delays one side, using the non-delayed signal to drive the compression of the delayed signal. But this is really only info for the super-geeks - like the type of people that read footnotes to start with!

Legendary Mixer for Jay-Z, Beyoncé, James Brown, Jennifer Lopez, etc.