Rupert Neve Designs 5254 Dual Diode Bridge Compressor
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Two channels of iconic diode bridge compression, thoughtfully improved and refined for modern tracking, mixing, and mastering.
Since the early 1970s, Rupert Neve’s early diode bridge compressors have been revered for the punch & glue they bring to drums, instruments, and the mix buss – but these desirable characteristics were unfortunately accompanied by inflexible controls and fairly limited versatility. Rupert Neve Designs created the 5254 Dual Diode Bridge Compressor to capture the soul of these coveted compressors while providing modern updates including advanced timing control, significantly lower noise, fully stepped controls throughout, higher voltage power rails, and internal parallel processing capabilities.
Made for Tone
Unlike our VCA compressors, which are built for exacting clarity, the harmonically rich tonality of the Dual Diode Bridge Compressor is built to produce a wide range of colors – and built to help you make a statement with your music. Based on the dynamics circuit originally developed for the acclaimed Shelford Channel, the 5254 is outfitted for dual mono or stereo use with Rupert Neve Designs’ custom transformers and class-A electronics, tailor made for a compact 1U 19” enclosure.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of the 2254, and now the 5254 gives me all of that vibe, with a lot more detail and control. I’ve tried it on pretty much all the individual instruments you might have in a mix…and it was really exceptional on the mix buss.”
Matt Maeson, Sara Bareilles, The Kills, Metric
The Diode Bridge
Where the VCA compressor found in the Portico II Channel and Master Buss Processor provides unmatched clarity, the weighty, harmonically rich tonality of diode bridge compression can be essential in pushing key sources like vocals, electric guitars, bass and drums to the forefront of a mix. By understanding the limitations of the vintage units’ topologies, painstaking effort was taken to reproduce the unique tone of these classics while improving the noise floor & accuracy, expanding inflexible time constants, adding full wave sidechain detection for improved dynamic response, and widening the range of threshold and ratio controls. Delivering the powerful sound of these iconic designs with enhanced flexibility for the modern age, the Dual Diode Bridge Compressor is a dynamic tool equipped to make a bold statement on virtually any mix or track.
“A diode bridge is a very unique sound characteristic compared to other types of compressors. It is possible to create a cleaner sounding diode bridge than we have here, but we were after a particular flavor of harmonic content. As soon as you hear the sound, you know exactly what it is.”
Engineering Manager: Rupert Neve Designs
Timing is Everything
The unified TIMING control consists of six selectable settings, carefully chosen for different applications – a major departure from the slow, fixed attack of the vintage units. FAST and MF settings are designed to help clamp down on more transient signals like drums, plucked string instruments and fast vocals. MED and MS have slightly slower attacks and releases which allow more transients through, while having a slightly longer recovery. Lastly, SLOW and AUTO are both significantly slower and feature complex nonlinear release times, with smoother, less audible level control.
FAST mode increases the speed of both the attack and release for each setting, also effectively doubling the number of time constants from 6 to 12. The FAST mode also allows for a dramatic increase in speed as compared to the Dual Diode Bridge Compressor’s renowned ancestors, providing significantly more tonal & operational versatility.
Faster TIMING settings will generally lead to higher peak-to-peak control voltage ripple, and therefore induce more harmonic content, translating into more color in the main audio path. Slower TIMING settings will smooth the control voltage significantly, and thereby reduce the harmonic content added to the audio path, resulting in more transparent compression. It is also worth noting that due to the nature of this topology, these time constants inherently adapt themselves slightly depending on several factors: compression ratio, threshold, and source material. This dynamically generated timing shift and harmonic content is what gives the Dual Diode Bridge Compressor its unique personality.
The Right Blend
Given the naturally colored sonic signature of the 5254’s diode bridge, this built-in parallel compression ability is especially useful. The BLEND control allows the user to inject smaller amounts of extreme compression into an otherwise unaffected signal, creating an enhanced yet natural sound that maintains dynamic range with blendable color and punch.
“When I first heard the Shelford Channel, I fell in love again with the diode compressor and knew I was going to need more of the Shelfords just for the compressor alone. Everything I ran through the diode bridge sounded better, from drum buss, bass, electric guitar, vocals.”
Heart, Soundgarden, Bad Company
In addition to the TIMING control, the diode bridge compressor can further be manipulated by the RATIO, THRESHOLD, GAIN, S/C HPF, S/C INSERT and LINK controls. The RATIO control has six selectable positions on the rotary switch and allows the user to set the slope of the compressor curve with ratios of 1.5:1 through 8:1. The THRESHOLD control allows the user to adjust the point at which compression begins, ranging from -25dBu to +20dBu. The GAIN control adds make-up gain ranging from -6dB to +20dB.