UAD Classic version bundled free with all UAD-2 products; 1176 Collection sold separately for $299.
FET compressors are a sub-category in their own right, named after the field-effect transistors used as voltage-controlled variable resistors in the circuit, regulating the level of gain in order to compress the signal. The major benefit of FET compressor circuits is their speed, allowing for ultra-fast attack times (as low as 20 microseconds in the case of the 1176LN). As they compress the signal, FET designs also tend to introduce harmonic distortion, with the result being an aggressive, pleasingly coloured sound.
As they compress the signal, FET designs also tend to introduce harmonic distortion, with the result being an aggressive, pleasingly coloured sound.
The definitive FET compressor is undoubtedly the 1176, designed by Universal Audio founder Bill Putnam and released in 1967. There are other options on the market these days, many of them unofficially drawing on the 1176 for inspiration (we like Softube’s FET Compressor, which adds a few features to the original >1176 setup), but if you want the closest thing to the real deal then where better to look than to the company who first brought the hardware to the market? Universal Audio’s own 1176 emulation for the UAD platform is a meticulously modelled clone of the 1970 LN version (the suffix standing for Low Noise, reflecting upgrades made to the original circuit).
Bright, punchy and simple to set up, the 1176 design is a true classic. Best suited for vocals, bass and drum tracks or groups, it’s a versatile tool to have at your disposal no matter what style of music you make.