Sound On Sound Review: STA-Level

By Hannes Bieger

Published December 2014

Is Retro’s recreation of the legendary Gates Sta-Level more than just a reissue?

Trawl through old interviews and you’ll find that plenty of big-name producers offer nothing but praise for the Gates Sta-Level compressor. It was one of the most successful and enduring compressors of the post-WWII era, and its unique sonic qualities mean that it remains in demand today, although for a rather different application. Second-hand units change hands only rarely, and for a high price. Retro Instruments, though, offer a version of the Sta-Level, which remains true to all the important aspects of the original design, while also incorporating some very useful additions.

Bettering The Sta-Level

As with Retro’s take on the Urei 176, the build quality is flawless. It combines the heavy-duty nature of studio kit from the ’50s with a few key qualities of a well laid-out modern design. In fact, Retro took everything that was good on the original unit and enhanced it, to make the compressor more suitable and more convenient for daily use today. XLR connectors, a standard IEC outlet, the possibility of coupling two or more units, facilities on the rear panel for..

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MIX Online Review: Retro Instruments Revolver

Dual-Channel Tube Compressor Recalls the Vintage Audio Gear of Yesteryear

Barry Rudolph
Jun 11, 2018

The original Altec 436C was a three-tube circuit. Revolver uses a solid-state sidechain circuit to replace the 6AL5 tube detector used in the Altec, though it retains the same 6BC8 input and 6CG7 output tubes. There are many dual triode tubes that can be substituted, as Retro has a vast NOS supply of American-made tubes (primarily because they were popular television tubes).

The rear panel of Revolver mimics the Altec with horizontally mounted tubes and transformers for proper cooling. The four tubes (two for each channel) are located between and protected by two taller custom output transformers located inside of steel box shields. The output transformers’ laminated cores are oriented 90-degrees from the core of the custom AC power transformer. Part of Revolver’s sonic “secret sauce” revealed to me is that…

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