Tuesday, April 25, 2017

REVIEW KLARK TEKNIK 1176-KT COMPRESSOR-LIMITER

KLARK TEKNIK 1176-KT REVIEW
by Mark King for Proworkshop.com

Up until the last couple of years if you wanted a real 1176 style FET compressor-limiter like the one Bill Putnam invented you had very few choices. Now there's a new kid in town from an old and well respected British brand name, Klark Teknik. In the following review we'll take a look at the similarities and the differences of the original UA-1176 by Universal Audio, and the Klark Teknik 1176-KT.

DIFFERENCES

The biggest difference between the two compressors is the selling price of the units, the UA-1176 is advertised for $1999.99 on the Sweetwater web site, while the 1176-KT from the same seller is shown to be $599.99. Today the 1176-KT is shown for $499.99 on the B&H web site, that's the best price I could find anywhere.

The 1176-KT is a two rack space unit, just like the original. In fact everything about it is just like the original with a few notable exceptions. 

The power switch on the 1176-KT is a nice toggle switch with a chrome metal baton handle where the power on the original was contained in the far right push-button selector section. 

The 1176-KT sports a large jeweled power indicator light where power-ON was indicated by the lighted VU meter on the original. 

On the section of the switch where the original controls power, the 1176-KT provides one additional VU-meter usage level. 

The VU meter on the 1176-KT is pushed to the left a little compared to the original, this was to make room for the toggle-style power switch and power light. 

The 1176-KT has a planet Earth power supply which will work on any voltage and frequency from 100 to 240 VAC where the original has a two-position switch to select compatible power. Choices are 120 or 240 VAC on the original UA-1176.

The weight of the two units is also different, the 1176-KT lighter in weight, no doubt due to the heavier conventional power supply in the UA-1176 compared to the switching power supply used in the 1176-KT.

The 1176-KT has a three-year warranty while the UA-1176 is warranted for only one year.

SIMILARITIES

Both the UA-1176 and the 1176-KT have, two-rack space solid steel enclosures and .125" thick black face panels. 

The input and output knobs on the 1176-KT are very good clones of the originals unique clear-skirted knobs.

The attack and release knobs are in the same positions as the original UA-1176.

The 4-button compression ratio selection switch on the 1176-KT is identical in function and position with the original UA-1176. You can press all four buttons in at once to achieve the over-the-top compression the UA-1176 is known for.

Both 1176 compressors have balanced, transformer coupled input and outputs on XLR connectors. The Klark Teknik model also provides TRS 1/4" inputs and outputs while the UA-1776 provides barrier strip input and output as an alternative. The UA model uses custom input and output transformers of unknown origin. The KT model uses custom transformers designed by the English audio firm, Midas.

Both units use the same FET style of reducing the gain of the signal. One of the beauties of this design is that the sound does not pass through any optical units or voltage-controlled amplifiers. Gain is reduced by pulling the signal input down closer to ground and thus reducing the level. Output gain is added by a Class-A output amplifier stage which drives the balanced output transformer. 

HOW DOES THE 1176-KT SOUND?

It sounds great, just like the UA-1176 with maybe a hair less background noise. 

One of the best features of the UA-1176 is the speed of the Attack-Time, it's very fast so transients don't slip through. the 1176-KT has the same ultra-fast Attack-Time. 

The Decay-Time can go from fast to slow and this range of control provides some unique character on the UA-1176, it works exactly the same on the 1176-KT.

In a blindfold comparison I could not pick out which was which, the 1176-KT is functionally identical to the UA-1176. On drums I have used them both on kick and snare to control how these important mix elements sit relative to everything else in the stereo field and found them both to be so similar you would have a very difficult time trying to prove any differences between the two units.

Vocals are the most important compression application for me. I like to use a little bit of compression during tracking and then insert an 1176 on each of the lead vocals when I'm mixing through the console. Once again, comparing the two units was very difficult because they sound functionally identical to each other.

CONCLUSION

It's good news for 1176 fans, there's a new kid in town. He's got all the right stuff and he's sporting a street price of less than a third of his name-sake. I love the 1176-KT, it's got everything I like and a price that blows away the competition. What's not to like?

Since it's such a new item it remains to be seen how well the 1176-KT will hold up but it's covered by a Three-Year warranty in case of problems. 

The 1176-KT is the piece I've been wanting to augment my UA-1176, these compressors are some of the best sounding units anywhere for any price. Finally my 1176 ambitions can be realized, I've got four of the 1176-KT to spread around my mixing duties now. These join my UA-1176 (and two WA76) to finally give me the individual dynamics control I've been craving.

I'm very glad Klark Teknik gave us this fantastic new compressor option and I've shown my affection by purchasing four of them. It's 1176 Nirvana for me.

Good music to all!