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Chandler Limited is known for its stunningly accurate recreations of gear from EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. However, the brand is doing something a little different with its latest release. The RS660 Compressor ($3,599) brings together two classic compressors into one unit. Which compressors are we talking about here? Let’s get into it!
As you may have guessed from the naming convention, the historic Fairchild 660 is one of the influential compressors behind the RS660. Chandler Limited has typically kept its designs to EMI-based creations, but Abbey Road fanatics will know that the Fairchild was a permanent fixture at the studio. Geoff Emerick heavily used the compressor on every Beatles release from Revolver forward.
The second compressor Chandler Limited used as design inspiration for the RS660 is the RS124. After purchasing several Altec 436B compressors in 1959, the Abbey Road/EMI team didn’t like what they heard. They decided to modify the input control and add an output attenuator and a Recovery switch. This version, dubbed the RS124, would become known for its silky smooth character that never stifled sources, especially in the high end.
The RS124 was never made commercially available, and only three classic-era units remain in working order. That is until Chandler Limited’s Wade Goeke worked out a deal with EMI and Abbey Road to start producing some of the studio’s most storied gear. In 2015, Chandler Limited released its version of the RS124 with a slightly different layout and a Fairchild-style VU meter. A taste of things yet to come…
And now we get to why you’re here: the Chandler Limited RS660 Compressor!
In his design for the RS660, Wade has worked meticulously to cultivate the classic sounds of the Fairchild and RS124. The unit utilizes the 6386 vacuum tube (it also features 6CG7 and 6AL5 tubes), fits in 2Us of rack space, and features three different modes, including THD, Comp and Limit.
When going from left to right across the faceplate of the RS660 Compressor, you’ll start with the Balance control. This is a historically accurate way of aligning the phase of the tubes. Press the button, and the RS660 will emit a clicking sound. Use a small flathead screwdriver to turn the screw above, and when the clicking is at its quietest, you’ll know you’re good to go.
The RS660 features three central knobs on its faceplate; Input, Output, and Time Constant. As with his RS124 reproduction, the RS660’s Input and Output are fully variable, unlike the original units. For an added cost, Chandler Limited will add stepped pots for you. The Time Constant does feature seven positions with a stepped switch. The fourth selectable on the unit allows you to select between the previously mentioned modes.
Regarding I/O, the RS660 features a transformer-balanced XLR input and output. The unit also features a selectable Output Impedance with your choice of 600 or 200 Ω, with the later being a staple for Abbey Roads studios. The mono compressor also can be linked in stereo with another unit via a ¼” jack on the back. There is a small switch on the front faceplate for engaging stereo linking.