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EMPIRICAL LABS FATSO JR. – STEREO COMPRESSOR, TAPE EMULATOR

EMPIRICAL LABS FATSO JR. - STEREO COMPRESSOR, TAPE EMULATOR

Description.

The Empirical Labs EL-7 FATSO Jr. is an outboard unit originally designed to provide master quality compression and analog tape simulation. It is incredibly useful in the fact that it can tame and bring to life the coldest digital sounds. Once you start twisting knobs and pushing buttons, you’ll find this unit is really more like an all purpose compressor, limiter, dynamic eq, tape emulator and distortion unit that’s actually good at any audio job it undertakes from vocals, drums, bass, guitar & keys, to master bus direct & parallel compression.

The FATSO Jr, housed in a compact 1U rackmount box, has balanced XLR and quarter-inch TRS jack plugs, plus unbalanced phono sockets for both inputs and outputs. On the front panel, there are Distressor styled input & output knobs, coupled with buttons for activating various forms and chains of compression. There are additional push buttons for activating the Fatso’s distortion parameters and for controlling the ‘Warmth’ or HF Saturation settings. Lastly there is a button that bypasses the Fatso parameters and can also engage the ‘Tranny Function’ or transformer tape emulation setting.

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The FATSO is all about subtlety, not wow factor. The user will find an appreciation of how this box will smooth out the mid & high frequencies while preserving crispiness and articulation, giving your mix or sound a more musical color. This is done through the Tranny, Warmth, & Distortion parameters, which introduce frequency and phase response irregularities, saturation, LF distortion, and 3rd level harmonic distortion. Most importantly, the warming effect is logarithmic. Users of the Fatso Jr. will find the ‘Tranny’ and distortion parameters far more useful than most simple kinds of EQ.

Its compression presets, modeled after the 1176 and 160, are phenomenal and simple to use. The release curve on all compression modes is logarithmic, giving a fast initial recovery followed by a slower rounding out to unity gain, and all modes have slightly different soft knees. The Buss mode gives a very gentle 2:1 ratio controlling overall levels without squashing anything too much. The General Purpose setting combines a medium attack with a slow release and provides slightly firmer level control, while the Tracking compressor has been designed to emulate the classic Urei 1176, which is so effective when recording drums, vocals and a wide range of instruments. The Spank function is described as a ‘radical limiter’ and exerts much greater level control.

One thing to remember when using the FATSO is the compressor modifies the signal before any of the other parameters, and so its settings interact strongly with those of all the other processing colors. It is therefore essential to set the compressor first, then the Warmth and finally the Tranny mode. Overall, the Fatso Jr is definitely one of our most favorite pieces of gear here at Studio 11. It’s a beast when mixing or mastering clients bedroom productions or cheap studio recordings. Its come through for us so many times, well, we wish we could buy it a six pack and two hookers. So if you need to add a little life to your mix or sound, bring it down to Studio 11. We promise we will let you engage the ‘Tranny’ mode, disco balls aren’t included though.

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