Retro Instruments 176

An outstanding tube-limiting amplifier for drums, bass, synth lines and thicker vocals
MFR# 176
Retro Instruments 176
Retro Instruments 176 Retro Instruments 176 Retro Instruments 176 Retro Instruments 176 video


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With a name paying homage to its legendary roots, the Retro Instruments 176 delivers every ounce of that magic, classic sound. Retro went out of their way to make the 176 faithful to the extraordinarily versatile Sinatra-era design we've all come to love, while incorporating the features you wish the original had. For example, there's a highpass filter, a hardwire bypass switch, and stereo linking. Plus, you can choose from even more colors by flipping a switch and bypassing the interstage transformer — perfect for bass and husky vocals. All in all, the 176 successfully honors the classic tube limiting amplifier while updating it for today's engineer, earning it "go-to" status from the likes of Jacquire King and Chris Lord-Alge. All in all, the Retro Instruments 176 is all about delivering that classic sound, without the classic's limitations — and doing it with the consistency and reliability you expect from a brand-new, boutique piece of gear.

  • Everything you love about the classic limiting amp
  • Faithfully designed with updates for the modern studio
  • Explore more colors with interstage transformer bypass
  • Retro Instruments: History inspired, made for today

Everything you love about the classic limiting amp
When you see the numbers 1, 7, and 6 show up on this tube limiting amplifier, you can know Retro Instruments more than earned the reference. This premium-limiting amp was made to sound and perform with every ounce of the versatility, energy, and "magic" that defined its namesake. The bottom line is, the Retro Instruments 176 delivers the essence of the classic, in a reliable, brand-new piece of boutique gear that's been fine-tuned for modern music production. You can't go wrong here.
Faithfully designed with updates for the modern studio
Although we all love vintage designs, when you put them through their paces, it's hard not to make "wish list" of features you wish they had. Fulfilling that wish list, while retaining the soul of the original, is precisely what Retro Instruments aims to do — a delicate balance perfectly showcased in the 176. For starters, Retro added a highpass filter, letting you smoothly rein in the low end that's retained in digital recording, in a way the original never needed to contemplate. Retro also added a hardwire bypass switch, so when it's out of the chain, it's out of the chain. And, for those of us in need of stereo linking, the 176's stereo link control ensures the two sides perfectly track together, so your image stays locked into place. There's also a front-panel meter zero adjust, so you no longer have to open the panel to get to it. With these additions, the 176 is right at home in the modern workflow.
Explore more colors with interstage transformer bypass
One feature that may not have been on your "wish list," but you'll love getting to know, is the addition of an interstage transformer bypass. With the classic, the interstage transformer was always engaged — and it's hard to go wrong with that sound. But, flip the bypass switch and you can work without the transformer, lending a sound that you'll find more than useful.
Retro Instruments: History inspired, made for today
They don't make them like they used to — and that's a good thing. Retro Instruments is all about taking a vintage product and building it the old way, with the old sound, while carefully selecting features that make the classic more usable in modern recording. It's a hybrid approach that's won the attention of countless top-level engineers, causing them to retire their vintage units and lean on Retro for delivering that classic sound in day-to-day use. If it's timeless sound you want — without the challenges in consistency and reliability of a 50-year-old unit — you'll find what you're looking for in Retro Instruments.


Additional Information

Condition New
Channels Single-Channel
Chassis 19-in Rackmount
Rack Spaces 2u
Digital I/O No
Input Connectors Analog XLR
Output Connectors Analog XLR

I was struggling a lot to try and find a certain sound - I even had a handful of nice standby compressors that are great on a lot of things - but I still couldn't get this particular sound on vocals. I would find myself running multiple compressors in series often, and usually just satisfied with the results. After some help from VK, I wound up getting the Retro 176, which I have to say, has exactly that sound I was looking for. It has the ability to be aggressive, transparent, and everywhere in between. It's versatile, yet unique, and just makes stuff pop out of the mix and brings it right to your attention. I don't often like compressors that sound like "nothing," if you know what I mean. This thing has a SOUND, and it's GOOD. It's possibly the best vocal compressor I've used to date, and I've been using it on rock, jazz, country, and pop vocals with great results. It's a little pricey, but unfortunately, you get what you pay for. Let's just say I've gotten a LOT less vibe and versatility from units costing the same price or more. Solid build, very low noise, very consistent, quick and easy to dial in. I love it! Thanks VK.

By K. Osborne on September 15, 2014

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How do you rate this product?

  • Joe Chiccarelli
    Joe Chiccarelli
    “The Retro 176 has been amazing on lead vocals and electric guitars. Everything Retro makes is just quality tone. State-of-the-Art in an ‘Old School’ way."
    Engineer Joe Chiccarelli's credits include The White Stripes, Stan Ridgway, Oingo Boingo, Ferron, Sandra Bernhard, Spirit of the West, Counting Crows, U2, The Shins, Radiohead, Elton John, The Cult and countless others.
  • Jacquire King
    Jacquire King
    "I put the Retro 176 in the same class as its legendary inspiration. There are only a handful of compressors that everyone an agree are desert island worthy, time will prove this to be one of them. It's a perfect vocal tool, now I can't imagine mixing without it."
    Jacquire King is Grammy Winning Producer & Engineer who's credits include Kings of Leon, Melissa Etheridge, Tom Waits and Norah Jones.
  • Jean Marie Riachi
    Jean Marie Riachi
    Dear Mike, Just to thank you for the AMAZING Retro 176, the vocals on is wawwwwwwwww!

    Murex D’or and World Music Award winner Jean Marie Riachi is the executive producer for many of the biggest artists in the Middle East including Jose carrears and Youssou N Dour (Duets with Majida el Roumi).
  • Ryan Freeland
    Ryan Freeland
    "An absolutely fabulous recreation, which is better than the original because it is completely reliable."
    Ryan Freeland is a Grammy winning engineer whose credits include Ray LaMontagne, Aimee Mann, Joe Henry, Grant-Lee Phillips, Ingrid Michaelson, Amy Correia, Brett Dennen, Son Volt, Chuck Prophet, Ian Axel, The Weepies, Jim White, Loudon Wainwright III, Alana Davis, Jonatha Brooke, & Christina Aguilera.
  • Greg Wells
    Greg Wells
    "The 176 sounds as impressive as my old tube giants (Gates, Federal, RCA) but also more modern if needed. I continue to use my three 176's on every project I do. I can't be without them! Please keep making gear like this."
    Greg Wells is a Grammy nominated record producer and songwriter. Greg produced the worldwide #1 hit "Apologize" by OneRepublic. He produced #1 U.S. Top 40 hit single "Waking Up In Vegas" by Katy Perry and co-wrote the hit song "The Reason" by Celine Dion.
  • Ward Hake
    Ward Hake
    "This is THE sound for me. It makes everything sound better, even if the GR meter never moves. I foresee more Retro gear finding a permanent home at my studio in the future."
    Ward Hake is the Vice President of Music for 20th Century Fox’s TV Music division. He supervises all aspects of music for 20th Century Fox TV. Some of the 30+ shows include mega hits like; Glee, Modern Family, 24, The Simpsons, Family Guy, My Name Is Earl, How I Met Your Mother, Sons of Anarchy, and Bones. He oversees all music needs, starting with the pilot through the show’s life on the air.
  • Al Sutton
    Al Sutton
    "The Retro 176 pulls out the breath of vocals with out any need of additional EQ. With all the versatile controls it's very easy to make a vocal sit in a mix with out losing definition or clarity."
    Producer/Engineer/Mixer Al Sutton owns and operates Rustbelt Studios in Royal Oak, Michigan. His list of credits include Kid Rock, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Electric Six and many others.
  • Chris Lord-Alge
    Chris Lord-Alge
    "Phil Moore did a great job! Bill Putnam would smile!!! The Retro 176 has become my first choice for lead vocals It now stands alone at the finish line!"
    Chris Lord-Alge is aGrammy Winning Mixer who's credits include U2, Michael Buble, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks
  • F. Reid Shippen
    F. Reid Shippen
    "So, I came back and tried a few different things with the Sta-Level and found the's magic on bass. You will have to pry this from my cold dead hands........... ;-)"
    F. Reid Shippen has mixed 5 Grammy-winning (and several Grammy-nominated) records, had a Billboard Top 200 #1 record, and many #1's and top 10 mixes on numerous charts. Credits include: India.Arie, Jonny Lang, Death Cab for Cutie, Mat Kearney, Marc Broussard, CeCe Winans, Nick Lachey, Emerson Hart, Clay Aiken, Backstreet Boys, A*Teens, Relient K, Cliff Richard, John Hiatt, Rascal Flatts, Josh Gracin.
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