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The Orban 424A, manufactured in the late seventies, is a dual mono or stereo linkable channel gated compressor/limiter and de­esser. To many engineers, it has been considered one of the best broadcast & production units for many years. Just like here at Studio 11, the Orban 424A can still be found in many radio stations and studios all around the world today.

The 424A is a VCA compressor that works a little differently than most standard compressors. The input/threshold knob acts just like the urei/universal audio input know­ it’s a level control that controls the input signal to the compression amplifier. The attack and release times are program dependable which means it’s kind of the same as having the unit in ‘auto’, but the unit is adjustable within the ‘auto’ setting. When the attack setting is under 3, the Orban acts like a peak limiter and compressor. With higher attack settings the 424 A acts considerably slower. There is not much of an in between with the attack settings. There’s a switch to change the shape of the release curve from linear to exponential (curved, log release).

The ‘gate’ function on the 424 A isn’t really a normal input gate. Its a compressor release ‘hold’ to prevent pumping of hiss and to smooth out post compression dynamics. The de­esser setting receives its signal pre compression and only compresses frequencies down to 5 K. This function is not only really useful with both lead & background vocals, but for drum cymbals as well. The output trim controls the amount of drive to the VCA compression amplifier. It’s not an output control, per se, but it’s a post­attack and release amp way to increase or decrease amplifier drive.

Here at Studio 11, we found it can be particularly useful operating in parallel on a drum mix or master mix, however when it comes to mastering the 424A can tend to add a little more color than what is needed.
Klark Teknik 1176


The Orban 424A is a classic and highly regarded stereo audio processor that has been a staple in the broadcast and recording industry for many years. It offers a range of features designed to enhance and optimize audio quality. Here’s an overview of the key features of the Orban 424A:

  1. Automatic Gain Control (AGC): The 424A features a highly effective AGC that ensures consistent audio levels. It helps maintain a constant loudness by automatically adjusting the gain to prevent excessively high or low audio levels.
  2. Peak Limiting: This processor includes peak limiting, which prevents audio signals from exceeding a certain level. It’s a crucial feature for maintaining audio quality and preventing distortion in the audio signal.
  3. Stereo Enhancement: The Orban 424A offers stereo enhancement capabilities, which can widen the stereo image and improve the perceived spaciousness of the audio.
  4. Four-Band Parametric Equalization: With four-band parametric equalization, users have precise control over the tonal balance of the audio. This allows for fine-tuning the sound by adjusting specific frequency ranges.
  5. High-Pass and Low-Pass Filters: High-pass and low-pass filters are included to remove unwanted low or high-frequency content from the audio signal.
  6. Peak and Average Level Meters: The 424A is equipped with level meters, allowing you to monitor the peak and average audio levels in real-time. This feature is crucial for maintaining audio quality and preventing clipping.
  7. Balanced XLR Inputs and Outputs: The processor comes with balanced XLR inputs and outputs, ensuring a reliable and noise-free connection to your audio system.
  8. User-Friendly Interface: The 424A is designed with an easy-to-use interface, making it accessible for both experienced audio engineers and those new to audio processing equipment.
  9. Versatility: It is versatile in its application, suitable for use in broadcast studios, recording studios, and live sound reinforcement systems.
  10. Reliability and Durability: Orban products are known for their reliability and build quality, and the 424A is no exception. Its durable construction ensures it can withstand the demands of professional use.
  11. Vintage Appeal: The Orban 424A is celebrated for its classic and vintage sound, making it a sought-after choice for those looking to add a specific character to their audio.
  12. Scalability: The processor can be easily integrated into existing audio setups and works well with other audio processing equipment.

The Orban 424A’s combination of classic sound, reliability, and a range of essential audio processing features has made it a beloved choice for professionals in the broadcast and recording industry. Whether you’re a radio broadcaster, audio engineer, or musician, this processor offers the tools you need to enhance and optimize your audio content.


A Classic Masterpiece: Orban 424A Compressor Review

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The Orban 424A Compressor is a legendary piece of audio equipment that has stood the test of time and continues to shine as a true classic in the world of audio processing. As a seasoned audio engineer who has had the privilege of working with a wide range of gear, the 424A stands out as a timeless masterpiece.

Time-Tested Design (★★★★★): The Orban 424A boasts a design that has proven itself over decades of use. Its vintage appeal is matched by its unparalleled sound quality and reliability. This compressor is a living testament to Orban’s commitment to creating enduring audio equipment.

Transparent and Musical Compression (★★★★★): The 424A is known for its transparent and musical compression. It subtly controls dynamics while preserving the natural character of the audio. It’s the kind of processor that enhances the audio without coloring it, making it an ideal choice for various applications, from broadcasting to music production.

Versatile Applications (★★★★★): This compressor is a versatile workhorse. It excels in a wide range of applications, from smoothing out vocals to tightening up drums in a mix. Its versatility extends to both recording and live sound scenarios, making it a reliable tool for audio professionals.

User-Friendly Interface (★★★★☆): The 424A features a user-friendly interface with straightforward controls. Adjusting the compression settings is intuitive and hassle-free. While it’s not as feature-rich as some modern compressors, it’s easy to grasp and use effectively.

Balanced Audio (★★★★★): The inclusion of balanced audio connections ensures a clean and noise-free signal path. The XLR inputs and outputs contribute to the overall quality of the audio and make it an excellent choice for professional environments.

Reliability and Durability (★★★★★): Orban is known for its high build quality and reliability, and the 424A is no exception. This processor is built to last, making it a robust choice for studios and live sound setups that demand consistent performance.

Vintage Charm (★★★★★): The Orban 424A exudes vintage charm, and its sound quality is a testament to the sought-after character of classic audio equipment. It adds a warm and colorful touch to audio, making it a beloved choice for those seeking that vintage vibe.

Timeless Appeal (★★★★★): The 424A’s timeless appeal is undeniable. It has been used in countless hit recordings, radio broadcasts, and live performances. Its classic sound is cherished by engineers and musicians alike.

Final Thoughts: The Orban 424A Compressor is a classic masterpiece in the world of audio processing. Its transparent and musical compression, versatile applications, vintage charm, and build quality make it a standout choice for professionals who value exceptional sound and reliability. It’s a piece of audio history that continues to leave a lasting impression, and its enduring appeal is a testament to its enduring excellence.

Whether you’re recording vocals, mixing a band, or mastering a track, the 424A’s ability to subtly enhance audio and add that special vintage touch makes it an invaluable tool for those who appreciate the art of audio engineering. It’s a classic that remains as relevant and revered today as when it was first introduced.





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