Ever since we released the British Class A exclusively for Console 1, a channel strip plug-in like this has been one of the most requested products. British Class A is the top-selling channel strip for Console 1, and its sound can be heard on countless of major albums today.
Its origins are noble and every single unit that combined becomes the British Class A are both expensive and rare. But they are classics for a reason, no other mixing consoles have this much character. Whatever you do, however you dial it in, it will still impart its sound on your track, a sound that’s unmistakably … good.
Some gear becomes classics because they are durable and easy to use, others because they’re flexible and reliable. This one is all about tone.
The interface consists of six sections, from left to right, top to bottom:
1. Input and routing: set the input gain and signal flow. There are two VU meters showing the input and output audio levels on top.
2. Gate: Gate the audio to remove unwanted bleed from for example a snare track.
3. Compressor/Limiter: A combined unit with both level limiting (white knobs) and compression (gray knobs).
4. Filter: Probably the most classic component of this strip, the slightly resonant filters have a unique character that combined with a bit of Drive gives your track just the right edge.
5. Equaliser: The famous 3-band equaliser with two shelving filters and a peaking mid band.
6. Output and Drive: Console 1 owners will feel at home here, the distortion from the console has been combined with Console 1’s “Drive Character” control, which tonally shapes the sound of the drive to fit your mix.
Input and Routing
VU Meters: Shows the audio levels of the input and output audio, calibrated to 0 VU = -21 dBFS.
Input Gain: Sets the input gain to the unit.
Phase: Inverts the phase of the input audio.
HP/LP To Comp: Routes the filters (High Cut/Low Cut) to the compressor’s sidechain instead of using them in the audio path.
EQ Position: Sets the position of the equaliser:
First: EQ, Gate, Compressor/Limiter
Mid: Gate, EQ, Compressor/Limiter
Last: Gate, Compressor/Limiter, EQ
Ext. Sidechain: Sets the destination for the external sidechain (where applicable):
Off: External sidechain is not used
Gate: External sidechain is routed to the Gate
Comp: External sidechain is routed to the Compressor
Use the gate to automatically reduce the volume of audio below a set threshold. This is useful to get rid of unwanted bleed in for example a snare drum track. It can also be used creatively to soften the sound of a kick drum.
Threshold: The threshold for which the Gate will open or close.
Release: The release time of the Gate, ie. how fast it will reduce the volume when the gate closes. Increase the Release to get a smoother and more natural sound.
Depth: Sets the maximum amount of gain reduction. If you want a natural sounding gate on a individual drums, use 8-14 dB of depth with a slow release time.
The original Compressor/Limiter used a single VCA (gain controlling component) to control the combined audio level from both the limiter and compressor, which could make it difficult to use the character from both the limiter and compressor at the same time. In the British Class A we chose to implement them separately, just as if you had two units placed after each other. The compressor comes first, then the limiter. Both are very unique sounding, and very rewarding to use.
Meter: Set to show the gain reduction of the limiter (Lim), both compressor and limiter (All) or just the compressor (Comp.).
Comp Attack: Sets the attack time of the compressor. The original unit had a 3 ms fixed attack time, but a very common modification at that time was to add more attack times. This plug-in is modeled after that modification.
Comp Release: Sets the release time of the compressor. The “Auto” release setting will automatically adjust both the Attack and Release times, depending on the audio material. A typical modification of this unit was to add two more release times (100 and 200 ms) to the original’s 400, 800, 1500ms and AUTO modes.
Mix: Sets the amount of parallel compression for the compressor (not the limiter!). This is a new feature not included in the original hardware.
Comp Ratio: Sets the ratio of the compression.
Comp Threshold: Sets the threshold of the compression, increase to get more compression.
Limit Level: Sets the level to where the limiter should start to compress the audio. In the original unit, the Limit Level (and Comp. Threshold) was reversed, but in British Class A we have chosen to keep with the Console 1 paradigm of “more is more”, so if you want more compression, turn up the knob.
Limit Release: Sets the release time of the limiter.
The filters are magic. Or, maybe not, they’re just filters after all. But they do sound magic. A classic trick with a console like this is to add some Drive and use the filters to shape the sound.
High Cut: Sets the cut-off of the high cut filter.
Low Cut: Sets the cut-off of the low cut filter.
When HP/LP To Comp is engaged, the filters will be routed directly to the compressor’s sidechain and won’t be directly audible.
This equaliser has stepped frequency controls, and an “OFF” position per band. By setting the equaliser bands to “OFF” you will get a less colored sound, as compared to just setting the gain controls to 0 dB. But you are not using this channel strip to get a less colored sound, so just keep those controls off of “OFF”, ok?
Low Shelf: Sets the center frequency of the low shelving band. Boosting the 35 Hz while cutting the lows at 45 Hz is instant gratification on a drum bus.
Low Gain: Sets the gain of the low shelving band.
Mid: Sets the center frequency of the peaking band.
Mid Gain: Sets the gain of the peaking band.
Hi Q: Engage to get a slightly sharper bandwidth of the peaking band.
High Shelf: Sets the center frequency of the high shelving band.
High Gain: Sets the gain of the high shelving band.
Output and Drive
Those familiar with Console 1 will feel at home here. The Drive and Drive Character controls adjusts the output saturation of the console.
Drive: Sets the amount of distortion. A setting at 12 o’clock corresponds to the “nominal” amount of distortion.
Character: Colors the distortion. At 12 o’clock it’s neutral, and gets brighter and more open if turned clockwise. Going counter-clockwise will give you a darker sound, with less distortion in the low mids.
Output Volume: A completely transparent volume control.
Output Meter: Peak meters (left and right).
Four of the sections (Compressor, Filter, Equaliser and Drive) are also available in Amp Room and Modular.
British Class A Compressor for Modular
The compressor has an extra input jack (“Ext. S/C”) in Modular. To be able to use the compressor in a normal operating mode, the input signal must be patched to both the inputs and the external sidechain at the same time.
Björn Rödseth – modeling
Kim Larsson – modeling
Arvid Rosén – modeling
Niklas Odelholm – modeling, product design, user manual
Anton Eriksson – DSP framework programming
Filip Thunström – framework programming
Erik Sight – UI programming for Modular
Pelle Serander – UI programming for Amp Room
Johan Bremin – Quality assurance, presets
Andreas Mood – presets
Ulf Ekelöf – 3D design