Overstayer | Stereo Field Effect 3706
Ok, first things first. This is probably one of the most flexible drum buss compressors I've used, and I'm a big fan of things like the ADR Compex 760, Shadow Hills Vandergraph and 1176's that always work wonders on drums... But this Overstayer takes that '1176' FET sound to another level.
Compressors fall into categories based on their design, and as some work better for different sources, I thought a quick round up of styles as Overstayer make a FET and a VCA :
Field Effect Transistors ( FET )
FET compressors/limiters run as voltage controlled resistors, they will attenuate but will not amplify, so they require make-up gain, which can be clean or dirty. The most famous FET is the Universal Audio 1176 which when used on drums adds punch, or extra bite to a vocal.
Voltage Controlled Amplifier ( VCA )
VCA’s can amplify as well as attenuate. They tend not to colour the sound as much, so ideal for mix buss compression…Like the Overstayer Stereo Voltage Control, but of course, there are always exceptions to this like the Old DBX160, which is extremely useful for smashing drums, and not ‘transparent’ in any way! - similarly the Classic Valley People Dyna-mite, which not “smashy” is extremely biting and adds excellent punch and aggression to anything in a mix.
Optical Compressor ( OPTO )
OPTO compressors have a light source that gets brighter as the signal gets louder and a light sensitive resistor that reacts to the brightness of the light by decreasing the resistance. OPTO’s are generally described as smooth. slow releasing and organic, with either a neutral or squashy effect depending how the compressor is designed.
( An LA-2A is an Opto and works a little slower, but it is the sound of the valves in the make-up gain that is great on certain sources like vocals )
Variable Mu ( VARI-MU )
And then there are Variable Mu compressors as well.. the old Altec 436, Fairchild 670 , UA 175b or newer Manley Vari-Mu and Thermionic Phoenix, where compression is achieved using the valve, and providing extremely smooth compression. The more you reduce the gain the more the ratio increases. Not as fast as a VCA or FET but extremely useful for tightening a mix and making things sound smooth and deep.
Overstayer Stereo Field Effect | Overview
So the Overstayer Stereo Field Effect 3706 ( or SFE ) is a FET compressor.
Hand made in Los Angeles, by Jeff Turzo, Overstayer has been around since 2009 after originally designing equipment for his own studio, he became in demand for these great musical products, and this is one of his newer updated designs. All Overstayer products are designed with tonal flexibility in mind, and alongside the usual Attack, Release, Input and Output controls the SFE has a few tricks that add to the sonic character :
- Stereo Controls : So, the Overstayer Stereo Field Effect Limiter/Compressor is a FET compressor with one set of single controls for the L+R channels. This can help when recalling without having to match channels..and also sometimes it's just great to have one set of controls to worry about!
- Harmonic Switch : It provides colour and thickening by adding the discrete harmonic circuit which appears Post compression allowing a signal to be driven before clipping as some nice harmonic smoothing comes into play. It's quite a broad sound and also adds low order harmonics. Experimenting with the gain and limiting made it react differently.
- Ratio Settings : These are what you would expect from classic 1176 FET style settings : 4, 8 and 12. Then there are two extra settings LIMIT ( which is hard peak limiting as you would expect ) and LOW, which Overstayer say is for "Harmonics with slight peak compression".
- Blend Control : This allows either full wet ( compressed / limited signal ) or more of the dry uncompressed signal to be chosen.
- Sidechain Filter : As well as having a dedicated sidechain insert on the rear of the unit, there is a switch for a 220Hz High Pass Filter which is placed in the side chain path, allowing the low-end energy to be passed through without compression.
- Non-Linear Switch : This changes the compression behaviour by speeding up the timing, creating extra harmonics, and increasing and changing the shape of the knee.
( Linear can mean a hard knee and either abrupt or no compression with no gain reduction .)
Overstayer Stereo Field Effect | How Does It Sound?
Well, I managed to squeeze about 8 different sounds out of a single drum loop ! - and then I put it on acoustic guitar and other drums, whilst ending up using it a lot on parallel vocals in a couple of mixes. It worked really well, just added bags of extra character, and having it as a stereo unit meant strapping it across busses and stems was easy to experiment with, and of course fun!
I've listed the settings I used, so you can hear also how the harmonics added a nice flavour to the sounds. I also went for the classic 1176 'Dr Pepper' style compression ( 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock = Attack 10 Release 2 and ratio 4:1 )
Next, I went for a more aggressive 12:1 setting with Harmonics and then used the LIM and LDW mode to 'smash'
...And here I used it on Acoustic Guitar and a different Drum Loop :
Overstayer | The Sound
Overstayer have already made their name with their popular NT-02A Saturator, the M-A-S Stereo Analog Processor and with a new Stereo Voltage Control VCA compressor alongside this FET compressor, there are flexibility and sonic appeal for many applications.
If you're after a really great sounding FET style compressor ( or two! ) then the Overstayer SFE as a stereo unit a 1U package, is worth consideration. The build is solid and well made, and the feel and sound is extremely inspiring.