It's tempting, if not a little lazy, to view FMR Audio's 500-series offerings as mere repackages of tried-and-true products like the RNLA. There is really nothing mere about them. It's not that there aren't obvious connections...the RNLA500's lineage is definitely visible and audible: red knobs albeit slightly more refined provide a visual clue as to its origins while it's signature sound tell you the RNLA's algorithm is still beating in its silicon heart. It's still an RNLA that you can use to add some compression-induced character (and control) to your vocal/bass/drum/mix/guitar/piano/orchestral/banjo tracks. It's also comfortably responsive to its controls, just like the 1/3 rack version. So what about this isn't merely a repackaging?
First, there's the 500-series thing: small, rugged and convenient analog audio processing modules that fit into just about any recording situation from pro studios to bedroom venues. The 500-series format is, well, everywhere. Secondly, although convenience and size are important (this is audio after all), if it doesn't deliver the sonic results, what's the point? Even dyed-in-the-wool RNLA users notice that there's something more here: THICK & GOOEY, meet CREAMY & SMOOTH! From fully, electronically balanced I/O to higher-resolution arithmetic, the net result is a professional audio compressor that's both responsive, small, rugged and has tone for days.
- Single-channel, 500-series version of the RNLA.
- Balanced input & output.
- Linkable for stereo operation.
- Maximum input/output levels of +28dBu.
- Overcurrent protection circuits safeguard 500-series rack operation in case of power supply faults.
- Linear & Logarithmic Release modes.
- Accurate signal level metering via power-saving "dot" gain-reduction display.
- Sealed, C&K subminiature toggle switches.
- Red-anodized, machined aluminum knobs.
- Controls calibrated in the coveted Tufnel scale for maximum something.
How It Sounds
Okay, THICK, GOOEY, CREAMY & SMOOTH. Got it. For most of us, this means that it sounds good, but what does that mean? The RNLA500 is, admittedly, much "gentler" and not as apt to grab'n'run with the signal as other, more "modern-sounding" compressors. Like an old-timey photocell, the RNLA500 is a little resistant to responding right away, but requires the signal to be there for a while to get the photocell to act. That slight hesitancy to respond is one of the key performance parameters that causes opto (and opto-like) compressors to be so coveted. Althought the RNLA500 is a VCA-based compressor, our algorithm controls it in a manner that puts the essence of opto-compressors in a more modern and controllable compressor.
How It's Done
Like all of FMR's dynamic audio processing products, it replaces sidechain electronics with chunks of software to accomplish both a bill-of-materials cost reduction while simultaneously improving dynamic performance accuracy and consistency. The beauty of this approach is that the main signal path (all dynamic audio processors have two paths: a sidechain/control path and the main audio path) remains firmly in the analog domain thereby avoiding latency and digital conversion artifacts that are sometimes unwanted. Coupled with a faster (40x) processor and higher-resolution VCA control, sealed switches & relays, multi-layer printed circuit board (PCB) the RNLA500 will deliver smooth and controllable compression for years to come.