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HLS Channel & PIE Compressor

Mar 15, 2010

The Kramer HLS Channel & Kramer PIE Compressor, developed in association with legendary producer/engineer Eddie Kramer, are the latest in the Waves Modeling line. The HLS is a faithful re-creation of the Helios console EQ and preamp, designed by Richard Swettenham and widely used on classic recordings made at London’s Olympic Studios. The PIE is a model of the classic Pye compressor which was used on individual channels as well as the master bus on some of the most memorable recordings of the late ‘60s. We spoke to Amir Vinci, the product manager behind these two plugins.

“We keep pushing the envelope with modeling,” says Vinci. “We learn something new every time we take on a modeling project. This time around, in addition modeling the sound of the units, we also modeled VU meters, recreating the ballistics and response behavior. I think it may be the first time you can get real, musical VU metering in a plugin. You can even calibrate the meter’s headroom.”

“Eddie Kramer’s work with these two hardware units on classic records by artists like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin inspired us to capture their sound, which is now an inseparable part of the rock DNA. And if you want to achieve that sound, using a similar signal chain really helps. The specific Helios we modeled was originally the centerpiece of the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio, which was used to record Deep Purple’s Machine Head and The Stones’ Beggars Banquet, as well as many live concert recordings.”

“Eddie was an integral part of the plugin development process, giving us insight about the hardware units, explaining how they were used, and creating presets. Plus, he listened with us during our A/B listening sessions as we perfected the modeling, giving his input and making sure we were spot-on. It was truly a collaborative effort. And when we reached the point in our listening sessions where Eddie really got excited, we knew we were truly doing something special.”

“We modeled all the analogue characteristics of the original gear, from the EQ curves of the HLS to the time constants of the PIE. But we didn’t stop there: We also modeled the hum, noise, and THD of each unit. There’s something about having that in the mix that adds realism, and reduces ‘sterility’. It’s an important part of making a mix sound like it was done using the hardware units themselves.”

“The HLS recreates the original console’s slightly saturated 10kHz boost that’s exciting, and sounds great even when pushed hard. The 60Hz bump is also pretty and warm. The plugin also has a line and mic selection switch that lets you choose between the different characters of the preamp inputs. And if you drive the preamp hard, you can really bring out its color.”

“The Pye compressor is well known for helping to glue mixes together, but it’s not easy to get a hold of one of the original units. We consider ourselves lucky to have found such an outstanding example, and we’re honored that we could model it for everyone to use.”