Elysia Alpha Two-Channel Mastering Compressor
The elysia alpha compressor is a mighty tool for professional dynamics processing. Featuring innovative functions with perfect technical implementation and an absolutely uncompromising quality of sound, it sets new standards for mastering applications and for cultivating any kind of audio material. It offers M/S processing, parallel compression as well as sidechain and audio filters, just to name a few.
The circuitry is a complete new development that provides an amount of openness and clarity which can hardly be found in present gear. Every single part of its signal processing is realized by using single transistors running in constant class-A mode, and even the sidechain and power supply use discrete circuits. All components are of the highest grade available and were exclusively chosen according to their tonal excellence.
These benefits result in an audio quality that is beyond all doubt. Even when extreme adjustments are used, the sound characteristics stay clean and powerful. Consequently the alpha compressor offers suitable settings for nearly any style of music and can always be employed in profitable ways. The enhanced functions exceed the potential of normal compressors by far and enable unimagined options for mastering and recording tasks.
Mastering requirements are many-sided and diversified. The quality of the delivered audio material differs from one job to the other in the same way as the customers’ wishes and demands do. Especially when it comes to dynamic processing it is not easy to procuce results that meet everybody’s desires.
Many clients want their tracks to sound as loud as possible. In most cases, however, this leads to a flat sound and a suffering stereo image. Sometimes only small adaptations are required to change the dynamics in subtle nuances. On other occasions certain productions need a kind of sound stamp that aims at finishing the overall tonal character.
The alpha compressor is specifically designed to satisfy these demands. Its new functions enable engineers to deal with even most complex material in outstanding quality. Even special problem cases can be subdued much better compared to using conventional types of compressors.
One of the most important features is the integration of a switchable M/S matrix. This module transfers the incoming stereo signal into a middle (M) and a side channel (S). Now the M and S channels can be processed separately and are then decoded to left (L) and right (R) again.
The resulting possibilities go beyond the potential of a conventional compressor in stereo link mode. For example, you can now process the mostly dominant middle signals like drums, bass and vocals selectively without influencing the stereo spectrum in a negative way.
The complicated splits between a powerful middle signal and a wide stereo image can now be done off the top of one’s head. But using M/S technology in dynamic processing offers more possibilities than merely providing a problem solver for complicated cases. The creative fraction will also love the new dimensions of putting their personal sound visions into effect.
The performance of the compressor can be perfectly matched to the audio material by engaging intelligent control options. Special modes support the classic parameters attack, release, threshold and ratio, helping to achieve pleasantly unobtrusive compression results even when processing very dynamic sounds.
Both attack and release feature the switchable Auto Fast option that adjusts the time parameters semi-automatically according to the speed in which the volume of the signal changes. In case of short and loud impulses (e.g. drums) the compressor automatically enhances its speed for a short moment and then returns to the original settings.
This makes it very easy to find musical settings for any kind of dynamic processing. Switching the sidechain from feedback to feed forward mode results in more extreme sounding compression properties that invite to dive into creative sound design – a true pleasure for ambitious sound freaks.
Sidechain and audio filters
The integrated sidechain filters allow to shape the compression dependent on selected frequencies. For example, it is very easy to attenuate the influence of bass signals on the overall compression. Furthermore, you can crossfade between high pass and low pass characteristics. In combination with corresponding attack and release settings, the responding behavior can be systematically adjusted to problematic frequencies.
A special Niveau Filterallows altering the character of the compressed signal. It should not be equated with classic shelving EQs because it is capable of creating new sound nuances without corrupting the signal’s original complexion. Digital productions will sound more powerful and rhythm instruments will gain in punch and assertiveness.
The fact that you can use this function on the middle and the side channel separately opens up entirely new possibilities. For example, an accentuation of the high frequencies in the side channel will broaden the stereo spectrum in a very pleasant and unobtrusive way. Reverbs can also sound wider without taking exaggerated effects.
The mix controller allows to blend between the compressed and the unprocessed signal so that the alpha compressor can be used to assign the right proportion without further hardware and cables.
This method of parallel compression enables the user to enhance the quieter signals only and leave the rest as it is. The mix will sound tight and loud without degrading the original dynamic structure. For sound design purposes, this feature can also be used to add extreme compression effects to the source. Both the original and the processed signal have an individual bypass switch and can be monitored separately.
This also works in M/S mode where you can monitor the middle and the side channels independently just by switching them on and off – a very convenient aspect, because it makes changing any controller setting for this redundant.
In order to protect following AD converters from signal peaks the alpha compressor is equipped with Soft Clip limiters. By holding back short transients, the converters can be set to a higher recording level. The fully discrete transistor design makes this circuit very agile so that even very fast signals will not find a way through.
The operation mode differs however from that of a typical peak limiter that will not let any signal pass above the adjusted threshold. The technical principle can rather be compared to an analog tape machine that drives loud impulses into saturation and thus acts like a 'natural' limiter.
The all discrete design using single transistors exclusively is one of the main reasons for the outstanding quality of sound of the alpha compressor. Every single component was developed with its influence on tone in mind, and the choice of components also follows this commandment.
All amplifier stages work in current feedback mode and do not need any capacitors that could have negative effects on frequency and dynamic imaging. Resulting in enormous speed and precision these circuits play an important role in producing a notably wide and open sound character. The PCA (Passive Current Attenuator) is an entire new development.
It also works fully discrete and purely passive, resulting in clearly superior sound quality compared to industrial ICs. Even the sidechain electronics is based on single transistors that provide a much better signal-to-noise ratio than comparable integrated circuits.
A look inside
The alpha compressor is exclusively equipped with capsuled conductive plastic potentiometers with detents. All modules can be switched via capsuled relays that have been placed at the optimal circuit areas in order to achieve a minimum signal path.
The inputs feature toroidal transformers resulting in high common mode rejection and reducing ground loops by means of galvanic isolation. In addition, both mix stages feature another big torodial transformer each in order to add that often sought after silky and huge sound character by simply pressing a button. The output stages are electronic class-A designs.
The power supply is a phenomenon of its own. Newly developed discrete voltage regulators provide a signal-to-noise ratio that is so low it can hardly be measured at all. A 130 VA toroidal power transformer provides more than enough current to charge the great number of electrolytic capacitors very fast. Due to its full MU metal capsule the magnetic stray field could be reduced so efficiently that it is no problem to place the power transformer inside the housing. Definitely no esoteric punk: Certain circuit parts are heated in isolated copper blocks.
This keeps critical parameters constant which avoids changes in temperature and control mode. The final highlight is the housing. Based on an exclusive design it represents the combination of visual elegance and mechanical steadiness. Created with on eye on elegant details and manufactured from massive aluminum the alpha compressor marks the final crown jewel for any ambitious studio.
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