The history of the RS-124 is fascinating. If you google “EMI RS-124” you will find out about the original Altec, engineers who actually could solder, and a whole range of interesting things. But I am talking about the history of the plugin…
Although Chandler has recreated the original RS-124 with a hardware unit, most people who are are familiar with the RS-124 know it because of a plugin from 2010, The Abbey Road RS-124. It was developed by a software company that no longer seems to be in business, and sold by “Abbey Road Plugins”. (They even had a website and everything. It goes to their online mastering service now.)
The plugin, partly because of its name/lineage and partly because it was darn good, acquired quite a status. Even after it was no longer supported or upgraded, followers found ways to keep running the 32-bit only piece of software. There are dozens of forum postings with people musing about when someone will release a new version, will it ever be upgraded, and how great it was and their lives were basically ruined because they could no longer use the plugin.
So Waves stepped in. (Yes, Kush sort of has one in the AR-1, and a couple other developers, but not really.) If you do a quick scan of some of the postings around, you can see how many people are referencing the “old” RS-124 plugin. And all of this is what I find so fascinating: we have an emulation of a pretty incredible piece of vintage hardware, but most everyone is just saying how much they love that the discontinued old plugin is now revived, and how the Waves RS124 compares. I guess there is some kind of irony here, or you may not even think this is all that fascinating. Ok then…
The linear analysis graph really jumps out. That is some frequency curve going on! It pretty much stays that way no matter the amount of compression going through the unit. And it gives me a chance to mention, as I have in the past, why a lot of vintage hardware was so revered. I assume Waves modeled this accurately. Which means the original compressor added a whopping bunch of high end. Which means that it made those tape recordings, which usually lacked in the high end response, sound brighter and better. Which means that we have the effect of 2 (or more) pieces of analog equipment working together to make a great sound.
Why is this worth mentioning? Because you aren’t using tape and console preamps that attenuate the high end. Just think about this, and how you use emulations, and how things worked together in the past and how you want things to sound now. And while you are at it think about when people use the word “warmth”, and how silly that might be.
- Update: Waves added a LF roll-off as an update to the plugin. I guess they read this post -!
I have included the harmonic analysis with the “Superfuse” both off and on. Engaging it creates a little more excitement, and I noticed the increased level of harmonics caused the compression curve to soften a bit.
I don’t usually include a chart with the dynamic curve, but you can see how the compressor responds smoothly to a very light threshold.
- You can hit the RS-124 really hard. On vocals you can basically pin the meters without getting audible distortion. It really does sound great. (This is what you can do with the Chandler Limited re-creation, and it works here too.)
- It’s really tricky getting a consistent level in and out. Mind your levels going into this and you will be happy.