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Buzz Audio Essence 500 Series Optical Compressor

Versatile mono compressor for 500 series that takes Class A optical compression to the next level for all forms of music production


Product Description

You may know the sound of vintage optical compressors like the Teletronix LA2A, but often you need more control than just 2 knobs. The Buzz Audio Essence features attack and release settings carefully selected for a more varied dynamic palette plus the intelligent auto modes for that really smooth "set and forget" operation we all love. And unlike the slow LA designs, this compressor can also respond much faster when you need it. The soft knee opto action is perfect for smoothing the dynamics of vocals and a stereo pair will find immediate use to glue together stems, synths and the mix buss. And as our users report, the Essence is brilliant on bass guitar!

Sudio path quality

The audio input is coupled directly to custom made LDR (light dependent resistor) gain reduction element via a Lundahl LL1540 input transformer. This is followed by a discrete signal path using Buzz Audio's Class A BE40 amplifier and BE50 high current line driver that excites the Lundahl LL1517 output transformer. The combination of high end Lundahl transformers with Buzz Audio circuits creates a very warm low end sound along with a creamy top end finish void of midrange harshness.

Creative versatility

The Essence is the only 500 series compressor to feature a side chain insert point so you can apply equalization to the compression characteristic to control certain parts of the audio spectrum. The insert can also be used to "key" the compressor from another sound for all sorts of creative pumping effects. In addition, there is onboard side-chain shelving EQ allowing you to quickly adjust the compressor sensitivity at high and low frequencies.


  • GAIN: sets the output gain from 0 to +15 dB
  • DRIVE: sets the amount of compression applied to the signal, clockwise rotation means more compression
  • ATTACK: 4 position switch with attack time settings of 1mS, 15mS, 70mS and our excellent Auto mode
  • RELEASE: 6 position switch with recovery time settings of 100mS, 200mS, 400mS, 800mS, 1600mS and the intelligent Auto mode
  • RATIO: 4 position switch sets the depth of compression from light to heavy, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1, 20:1 all with the soft knee action
  • METER: switched to read gain reduction or input and output level, a PCB jumper sets the zero level reference from +4 dBu or +14 dBu
  • BYPASS: toggle switch used to hard wire bypass the essence
  • S.C. MON: allows you to hear the side chain signal (the side chain EQ) and the side chain insert return signal
  • S.C. HI EQ: applies 8 dB at 10 kHz of boost or cut to the side chain signal and therefore to the compression
  • S.C. LO EQ: applies 8 dB at 100 Hz of boost or cut to the side chain signal and therefore to the compression
  • LINK: using the 500 frame link system, two Essences can be linked for stereo operation
  • S.C. INS: this switch engages the side chain insert point which are the input/output connectors associated with the second slot the Essence uses

Product Specifications

Condition New
Tube or Solid State Solid State
Channels Single-Channel
Chassis Module
Module Type 500 Series
Module Slot Count 2 Slots
Digital I/O No
Compression Type Optical

Product Reviews

5 out of 5 stars.
Review Count (2)

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lovely sound clean compression

By lee s on March 8, 2021

This is a great compressor for certain acoustic instrument sources. I've used it on double bass and saxophones with great success. It imparts a subtle warmth and its different attack and release selections make it much more versatile than most opto compressors. Highly recommended.

By Tommy P on February 21, 2021

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