Gearshoot - Gear Comparison Review - The 1176 - Original, Clone, Plugin
Urei Rev F vs UAD 1176 Rev E Plugin vs Warm WA76
The 1176 is one of the most famous compressors on the planet. We are going to take a new approach to our review as there is lots of history and reviews on the 1176 that cover that side already (see some handy links at the bottom). Many remakes have been made of it over the years - both in the analog and plugin world.
What we thought would be useful is to begin to get an understanding of why these alternate versions of the gear can sound different to the original. That way you can start working knowing which one will give the feel you need for any mix and hopefully learn to get the best out of each type.
What we think . . . from our listening tests on ATC SCM110ASL Pro’s and Extreme Isolation EX-29 Headphones.
We’ve made a number of presets that you can compare to listen and learn, click the link to open it in a new tab, and then check them out in relation to what we found (below).
There’s a few things that you can notice comparing the Urei 1176 to the Warm WA76 as you play the drum samples -
At 4:1 the Urei has a slight extension in the lower end and a smoothness, the WA76 is a little more ‘forward’ but the difference is relatively subtle - you might not notice the difference so much in a mix.
At 8:1 these differences become more apparent - this is where the Urei and the Warm WA76 diverge more in character (in that the WA76 starts to distort much more which can be really useful if that is what you need).
At 20:1 the WA76 provides much more crunch and distortion than the original 1176, there are still similarities, but at this level of compression each is clearly its own beast with some useful tones that you can get from both to suit your purpose. The UAD 1176 retains more of the character of the analog 1176 than the WA76, but still has notable differences.
Comparing the Urei 1176 to the UAD 1176 we find a greater overall similarity across the ratios in the sense that they diverge less in tone at the higher compression ratios (although we must always remember that these two are different revisions, E and F which could also influence somewhat). There is a difference in the low end between the Urei and UAD (with the Urei seeming to be a bit tighter and less distorting espc at high ratios).
Other useful stuff -
Here is a graph of a 100Hz tone through the 3 pieces of gear with settings at 20:1 ratio with Attack and Release set to fast achieving 18dB of compression.
Blue - Urei 1176
Yellow - Warm WA76
Orange - UAD 1176
The solid line is the main signal, the heavier dashed line the second harmonics and the lighter dashed line represents the third harmonics. The big divergences between our test 1176’s really seem to happen in relation to the third harmonic distortion and this happens more at higher than lower frequencies. But even at the frequency tested (100Hz) there is still some important differences (although much less so as you can see).
Here’s another graph of harmonic distortion as a percentage that really shows differences between the Urei, UAD and the Warm.
Handy Links -
For more info on the revisions check out this summary on the UAD site http://www.uaudio.com/blog/1176-la2a-hardware-revision-history/
More info on the Warm WA76 https://www.warmaudio.com/discrete-compressor-wa76
Extra info for those interested in how we make our calls on what stuff sounds like -
Listening tests and assumptions are determined, double checked or signed off at Gearshoot HQ on ATC110ASL Pro monitors. We reckon that they give us a pretty good chance at getting it pretty well in the ballpark of what it is going to sound like on most other people’s monitors.
Disclaimer - The world being what it is, virtually every 1176 has its own particular characteristics, even within revisions (they are old!). So what holds for the 1176 we have used as our test model may not hold for others 100% - but hopefully it should be close enough to others to help you understand more.