While plugins are incredibly useful, there is a reason why top audio engineers still have analogue gear in their racks. In today's hybrid studios, one of the most significant benefits, while you are mostly mixing “in the box”, is to use quality hardware on your master bus. Hence we have a look at my SA4000, an SSL G-Bus style stereo bus compressor manufactured by Stam Audio in Chile. I received the SA4000 in 2017 when this unit was my very first Stam Audio gear. Since then, some other Stam Audio products like the SA-76ADG became part of my studio gear collection.
Stam Audio SA4000
With their SA4000, Stam Audio again created an authentic recreation of the bus compressor found in the centre section of legendary SSL G series consoles. You basically just need to insert it in your mix bus and you will hear your mix getting punchier, bigger, more powerful, and glued together with unmatched cohesiveness after small adjustments. The SA4000 stereo bus compressor gives you the same famous character, compression behavior, and frequency response as the original. The unit is not only legendary on the mix bus but also pure magic on the drum bus.
One or two years after the initial release of the SA4000, Stam Audio released their MK2 version of the bus compressor. At first sight, you may have recognised that the new version has way more control knobs as my "old" version. Indeed, the team of Stam Audio performed several upgrades to the initial version and added the following features:
- True stereo side chain
- Mix blend knob
- HPF (five selecting frequencies)
- New ratio configuration (1.5 and 3.0 ratios added)
- Transformers switch for optional mod
Optionally, you have the ability to add either a “British” (Neve-style) or “American” (API-style) mod to the SA4000 MK2. The “British” mod adds the output section of the Neve 1073 preamp as a Class A output buffer with 2 Carnhill transformers to the signal. That results in additional low end and saturation of your mix. The “American” mod adds two exact replicas of the original API 2520 op amp with two transformers to the signal. This modification makes it the perfect solution to add mid-range to your drum buss giving you the famous American sound. As mentioned above, the mod - if implemented in your unit - can be easily turned on or off to switch to the original SSL-style circuit.
There is no compromise in parts throughout the entire circuit, which ensures you get a compressor that behaves and sounds 100% accurate to the original. All the units built by Stam Audio are handmade and calibrated in their workshop in Chile where they get a full health check twice and burn for 24 hours.
Stam Audio SA4000
Stock price: $990
Pre-order price: $790 (you need to deposit $200 per unit to reserve one)
Modification: additional 300$
You will find the expected next batches and time estimates on the Stam Audio website. Go to the SA4000's product page here.