Sta-Level Tube Compressor


The Retro Sta-Level is a recreation of the legendary 1956 Gates Sta-Level. The Sta-Level dominated the sound of hit radio in the 1960’s. Now these super musical sounding compressors have found their way into today’s hits. The Retro Gold Edition celebrates fifty years of the products existence. The Retro Sta-Level improves on the original with six settings of recovery (release) time and three different modes of operation. Single is super smooth for bass tracks. Double is perfect for most every source you throw at it. The Triple mode allows the Sta-Level to clamp down on fast transient waveforms while still retaining great musicality. These new adjustments give you wide flexibility to find the perfect dynamics control for your specific application.


The Sta-Level utilizes a novel program controlled release circuit. The Sta-Level implementation creates density and consistency while minimizing typical compressor side-effects at up to 40dB of gain reduction! The program path is transformer balanced throughout to cancel control-induced distortion. Push pull circuitry with 6V6 output stage provides wide voltage swing for gain control and line output. The result is that the Sta-Level brings a uniquely familiar intimacy, air and warmth to your tracks.

  • Revisions to the original design include:
  • Tube balance can be instantly aligned without test equipment
  • Uses a pair of easily-obtainable 6BA6 gain reduction tubes. The 6386 socket is still provided..
  • Two or more Sta-Levels can be coupled together for stereo, surround or sidechain operation
  • XLR transformer balanced input and output
  • IEC Power Connector
  • Hand matched audiophile-grade coupling capacitors
  • High quality, custom wound transformers used throughout
  • Internal component safety cover
  • Specifications
  • Gain Reduction Threshold: Continuously adjustable from +24dBm to -20dBm
  • Available Gain Reduction: 40dB
  • Total System Gain: 35dB (with standard input and output pads)
  • Distortion: 1 percent or less from 0-30 dB gain reduction
  • Frequency Response: ± .25dB from 20-20,000 Hz
  • Noise: -70dB or better referenced to gain reduction threshold
  • Output Level: Continuously adjustable from -40 dBm to +18 dBm
  • Input Impedance: Accepts low impedance active or transformer balanced 0-600 Ohms
  • Output Impedance: 600 Ohm transformer balanced, terminated and resistive pad coupled
  • Tube Complement: 2-6BA6, 1-12AT7, 2-6V6GT, 1-6AL5, 1-OB2, 1-5Y3GT
  • Power Requirements: Three prong IEC - Switchable 115-230 VAC - 50/60 Hz
  • Mounting Requirements: 3U metal rack 5.25" high, 19" wide, 8" deep


  • Greg Wells
    Feb 22 2017

    Retro Instruments STA-LEVEL demo with Greg Wells. Kick drum, snare and bass guitar through the Retro Instruments Sta-Level compressor at Greg Wells’ studio, Rocket Carousel Studio, Los Angeles”


    - Greg Wells See more...
  • Mix Magazine
    February 2007

    “The Sta-Level defines creamy smoothness when it comes to tube compression. I’ve used it on a number of sources, from a lowly hi-hat to a lead vocal, and each time its personality makes you want more. I can’t say enough about using the three-position switch with the Recovery knob. It makes this compressor eminently usable on almost anything you throw at it.”


    - Kevin Becka See more...
  • Music Connection Magazine

    “Retro adds modern features and new adjustability for more recording studio applications possible than the original units.”

    - Barry Rudolph See more...
  • Tape Op Magazine
    September 2006

    “The whole reason to have vintage compression is for the sound it adds, and the STA-LEVEL adds classic tone immediately. On acoustic guitar, you can hit it very hard, and the guitar still sounds like an acoustic and not a thwacking, pumping, midrange assault that can result from too much reduction with a lot of compressors I’ve used in the past.”

    - Craig Schumacher See more...

What people are saying about the Retro Instruments Sta-Level

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