Seawell Studios Retro STA-LEVEL Review

Josh Seawell

I’m excited to share with you a review of one of my all time favorite compressors, the Retro Sta Level! It is a beast and one of the few compressors you push up to 30db of gain reduction and it still sounds amazing! By the end of this review you’ll have a good idea of how it sounds on multiple instruments and vocals.

Male & Female Lead Vocal Demo (No Talking)

For more information on Professional mixing and mastering from Josh Seawell… find him here.

SoundPure Studios & the Retro DOUBLEWIDE

Part 1: Stand Up Bass

The Retro DOUBLEWIDE 500 Series Tube Compressor delivers the tube compression sound you expect because it has four actual variable-mu tubes under the hood and excels at processing delicate sources like bass and vocals. In the first video of our Retro DOUBLEWIDE series, SoundPure Recording Engineer, Allen Palmer, starts us off with the Retro on Stand Up Bass.

Part 1 – Stand Up Bass

Part 2 – Drums

Part 3 – Resonator Guitar

Part 4 – Vocals

Part 5 – Full mix

What We Think

The Retro Doublewide is one of the first 500-series compressors I’ve heard that is nearly impossible to “push too hard” with. What exactly does this mean for you? Due to its impeccably well-designed circuitry, inspired by the Gates Sta-Level (variable mu design), the Doublewide is able to adapt to and control an incredibly dynamic vocal/bass/guitar/keyboard/what-have-you without the typical gasping or unpleasant pumping associated with over-compressing.

Find out more from this review @

MIX Online: Barry Rudolph’s Review Retro 500PRE


The 500PRE is Retro’s third 500 Series module, joining the original DoubleWide I and the updated DoubleWide II–both dual-slot, single-channel tube compressors. The 500PRE incorporates the same basic double-balanced Class-A circuit topology as in the company’s Sta-Level limiter.


The 500PRE works both as microphone preamp and line-level amplifier; it has an input operating range of -72 dB to +12 dBu. The output clips at +18 dBu, with maximum output at +24 dBu. The 500PRE has two switchable gain ranges: high gain at 75 dB using all three of its TAD 12AT7 tubes, or low gain at 48 dB using just two of the tube stages.


The total slot current drain for the 500PRE is 160 mA. This exceeds the allowable current drain in the API Audio VPR Alliance specification of 130 mA for a single-slot module. A check in a tube manual shows that the 12AT7 requires 150 mA filament current each, and there are three.

Taking an idea from old ’50s tube television sets, the three tube filaments are wired in series and powered directly from the 500 rack’s +/-16-volt rails, or 32 volts total–that’s nearly 11 volts DC for each tube. The tubes’ plate voltage is supplied by the 48-volt phantom power supply, and the current drain is just 3 mA.

If your Lunchbox or rack does not have phantom power, the 500PRE will still work, albeit with reduced headroom as the plate voltage will automatically switch over to the +/-16-volt rails.

I ran the 500PRE in an API 8P High Current 500 rack (250mA per slot) and..

Finish reading this detailed review @ Barry Rudolph’s website:

Vintage King Review Retro Doublewide II

Since the 500 Series format became en vogue, the Retro Instruments Doublewide has been one of the best selling modules at Vintage King. As its name implies, the DOUBLEWIDE takes up two rack spaces offering premium single channel compression with huge, tube-powered punch via your lunchbox.

Late last year, Retro Instruments announced a new successor to the compressor, the Doublewide II.

This new version features faster attack and release time, stereo linking capabilities and a greatly improved signal to noise ratio. The Doublewide 2 still features the signature Single and Double timing modes that made the original such a favorite on drums, bass and well… Just about everything.

SweetWater Retro Instruments/Pultec EQ Shootout

The Pultec Sound

The sweetest thing about a Pultec is how you can alter the frequency spectrum in such a drastic and desirable way. I remember the first time I used one (on a Russ Taff record in the 1980s). I was floored by how I could add all the presence and brilliance I wanted without any sibilance or harshness.

How was that possible?

And I could grab as much warmth and fullness as I desired without the bottom end getting muddy or thick. Again, how does it do that?

The Retro Instruments 2A3 distinguishes itself by offering two channels in one unit and also adds a switchable subsonic filter (40Hz or 90Hz).



Find out more about the Pultec EQ Shootout at SweetWater Sounds post