Recently, I’ve published an article about the different types of compression circuitry, and gave some guidelines about when to use which. The articles have attracted much more people than I thought, and I’m very glad about it.
If you’ve read this article, you know by now that I went crazy and bought ten (10!) 1176 DIY and got it assembled and finely calibrated. I currently have 4 of them in my rack, but only two of them (a stereo matched pair indeed) will stay permanently in my mastering chain. The other ones are for sale at discounted price and I’m actually losing money with them due to the crazy USD/CAD exchange rate.
Being a small company means that I can’t afford lose my reputation or my customer’s trust over few pieces of gear. For that reason, I’m very intense on Quality Control and I make sure every single machine that gets out of my studio is top notch, even if it means losing more money sometimes.
“900 USD… I can get two for that price.”
I’ve been very surprised that some were complaining about the price, I’m actually being very honest saying that this is a great deal.
The Hairball Kit sells for 600 USD for a start, which is about 800 CAD these days… This does not include shipping, neither the custom tax which can be as intense as 30% for electronics. This doesn’t include the experienced technician time to assemble it (about 10 hours per machine) and another 2 hours per machine to fine calibrate it. So let’s say 50 CAD/hour, times 12 hours, which comes down to 600 CAD. And that doesn’t include all the materials and tools required to assemble it. We are roughly at least at 1200 CAD per unit.
I’ve been selling a couple units at 900 CAD to Canadians lately, because Canadians were complaining about the price, while the Universal Audio 1176 is sold for $2000 USD (2600 CAD). The funny truth is that components in DIY kits are always either as good as the original or superior in terms of quality; There is no point in creating a pale copy of a great unit. Also, the machine are more finely calibrated than the stock UA 1176s. Why is that ? We calibrated with 3 iterations to make sure every units is top notch and stable over time, UA doesn’t have time for this type of Quality control. From now on, I’m selling these units 900 USD, and that’s a firm price. And Yes, I think it is worth that.
So no, I don’t think you can have two for that price.
“Yeah, but there is the Warm 76 for 600 bucks”.
Again, that’s 600 USD. To Canadians, that’s not 600, but 800 bucks. Again, this doesn’t include custom taxes. To import it in Canada would cost another 200 bucks, you’re at 1000 bucks for a unit probably made in China. Think about it, they sell the whole unit assembled/tested/calibrated for the price of a DIY hairball kit. That does not inspire trust to me; there is no room for proper quality control at that budget, and you can be sure they cut the corner round on the calibration for that one. That said, if you feel okay with that, I have honestly no problem with you buying a Warm 76. Just know that you get what you pay for.
Can I see pictures of inside the machine ?
What about the Quality of the output transformer ?
It’s a premium quality transformer. It sounds very nice brings a lot of color into the signal.
“I see that there is no RCA plug for Stereo Adaptor on your pictures… What About Stereo Link ?”
Most of DIY 1176 compressors don’t have the Stereo Adaptor option. At least, the Hairball kits, from which our models are built from, didn’t have one. Ours didn’t neither at first. Since there has been a demand for it, we’ve decided to integrate it to our models. It was first discussed to apply this change only to the match pairs, but since they all are very carefully calibrated, they would all be good candidate for Stereo Link.
To Stereo Link two 1176, you will need the Universal Audio 1176SA (SA for Stereo Adapter), a little box sold for about 100 USD. In order to conduct our test, we’ve bought one from Sweetwater’s website and plugged it in our modified machines. It turns out it worked much better than I expected and it sounds pretty cool.
Do they really sound good ?
Yes, they sound really really good. Just to say, I used them in my Mastering chain. All the records I have mastered in 2015 have passed through it. My clients all know that I’m very critical about the signal path I’m using, and I have no tolerance for less than perfect machines. I’m also very intense on calibration and maintenance.
The big deal about the 1176 is two things: First, its tone. It has a very nice distortion due to the output transformer. I often use it without compression, just for its tone. The compressor also has a very unique behavior. It’s a very fast unit, so there are multiple uses for that.
If you are interested by these beauty, they are available here :