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Rupert Neve Designs' 535 is a 500 Series diode-bridge compressor based on the topologies found in classic Neve designs such as the 2254.
Definitive Rupert Neve Compression for Your 500 Series Rack
Rupert Neve Designs' 535 is a 500 Series diode-bridge compressor based on the topologies found in classic Neve designs such as the 2254. Considered by many to be the holy grail for colorful, punchy dynamics enhancement, the coveted 2254 module was designed for vintage Neve 80 Series consoles and became a legend for delivering weighty, harmonically rich tonality with the miraculous ability to bring thin vocals to life, punch up electric guitar and bass, and push drums to the forefront of a mix. The 535 serves up the attitude-packed, in-your-face sound of Rupert Neve's renowned diode-bridge compressors, but with modern precision and flexibility — which makes it ideal on any source. Originally developed for the dynamics section of the acclaimed Shelford Channel, the 535 circuit features Rupert Neve Designs’ custom transformers and Class A output amplifiers: world-class RND tech, made-to-measure for the popular 500 Series format.
Improving on a classic
Although prized for their thick, punchy tone, Mr. Neve's vintage diode-bridge compressors were somewhat compromised (as was all gear of the era) by the limitations of 1970s technology. In the design of the 535, meticulous effort was made to re-create the unique sound of the 2254 while lowering the noise floor, increasing time-constant flexibility, and widening the threshold and ratio control ranges. Full-wave sidechain detection was added for optimized dynamic response, the headroom of the diode bridge itself was raised, and fully stepped controls were specified throughout for accuracy and repeatability. An onboard BLEND control is also provided for effortless parallel processing.
Pump it up
At slower settings, the 535 can deliver reasonably transparent results. With that said, if that's all you want from a compressor, you'll probably be happier with a high-quality VCA design like the RND 543. The 535 is about character. Fat, punchy, colorful, and larger-than-life; the 535 is the compressor you reach for when a track needs to shine in the mix. Flimsy bass? Lackluster piano? Wimpy vocal? Run them through the 535. Nothing else grooms a track for dominance like the classic circuits of a Neve diode-bridge compressor. And the 535 is the definitive evolution of Rupert's patented magic-wand technology. Whether you use one on individual tracks or strap a pair across your mix bus, the Rupert Neve Designs 535 is an indispensable tool for making audacious statements with your music.
Versatile, intuitive Timing control
Instead of the separate attack and release controls you find on other compressors, the 535 sports Rupert Neve Designs' unique TIMING control, which unifies both functions into one intuitive knob that lets you dial up desirable attack/release characteristics quickly. The six selectable settings were carefully chosen for different applications — a far cry from the fixed attack of the 2254!
FAST: Fast Attack (750µs), Fast Release (130ms)
MF: Medium Attack (2.25ms), Fast Release (130ms)
MED: Medium Attack (2.25ms), Medium Release (400ms)
MS: Medium Attack (4ms), Slow Release (725ms)
SLOW: Slow Attack (10ms), Slow Release (1s)
AUTO: Medium Attack (5ms), Dual-decay Release (T1 500ms, T2 1s)
The FAST and MF settings are used to clamp down on high-transient signals such as drums, plucked stringed instruments, and staccato vocals. MED and MS give you slightly slower attacks and releases (allowing more transients to pass) and a slightly longer recovery. SLOW and AUTO, designed for smooth level control, are both decidedly slower. The FAST button increases attack and release speed for each setting, effectively doubling the number of time constants from six to 12. FAST mode delivers considerably more speed capability than the 535’s celebrated progenitors, providing significantly more sonic and operational adaptability.
Timing, color, and transparency
As faster TIMING settings will generally produce higher peak-to-peak control voltage ripple, they will generate more harmonic content — which translates into more coloration in the main audio path. Conversely, lower TIMING settings will smooth out the control voltage, thereby reducing the amount of harmonic content added to the audio path — resulting in more transparent compression. Worthy of note here is that due to the nature of this topology, the time constants adapt themselves to a certain degree depending on compression ratio, threshold, and the source material. It is this dynamically generated timing shift and harmonic content that gives diode-bridge compressor designs their unique personality.
Discipline your signal
In addition to the innovative TIMING control, the 535 offers a full set of controls for shaping your dynamics. The 6-position rotary RATIO control sets the slope of the compression curve with pre-selected ratios of 1.5:1 through 8:1. The THRESHOLD control has 31 detents that range from -25dBu to +20dBu, letting you adjust the point at which compression onset occurs. The GAIN control, with 31 detents, is used to add make-up gain in a range of -6dB to +20dB. The S/C HPF is a 12dB/octave sidechain highpass filter preset to 150Hz. This will make the compressor less sensitive to the powerful low frequencies in a signal, which can cause it to exhibit a sluggish, "mushy" response.
The LINK switch allows the compressor to be linked to another 535 via a sidechain control voltage. When both units are linked, the control voltage is shared between them; so when one unit is triggered, it will trigger the other unit equally. The compressor that generates the higher sidechain voltage (resulting in stronger compression) will control the compression of both audio signal paths. This can often assist in maintaining a solid center image in a stereo source. Sweetwater tip: for stereo sources, it's definitely worth auditioning the unlinked sound as well, as linking can clamp down on the effective stereo width when both compressors are triggered by one side. It will be up to you to decide if the benefit of a consistent stereo center image is worth the compromise of reduced L/R independence in the stereo field. The LINK feature is designed to utilize the link buss built into many 500 Series chassis such as the RND R6 and R10.
Onboard parallel processing
Given the natural coloration inherent in the 535’s diode bridge circuitry, the unit's onboard parallel compression capability is especially desirable. The BLEND control lets you inject varying amounts of compression into your dry, unprocessed signal, to create a natural sound that maintains dynamic range while being enhanced with blended-in color and punch.
- 500 Series compressor based on Rupert Neve's classic diode-bridge topologies
- Updated, modern circuitry for state-of-the-art performance and increased versatility
- Thick, punchy, and characterful signal enhancement
- Slower TIMING settings produce more transparent-sounding results
- BLEND control for onboard parallel compression
- Sidechain highpass filter minimizes the negative influence of LF content
- Stereo LINK switch utilizes the link buss built into many 500 Series chassis
- Custom RND transformers and Class A output amplifiers
- Stepped controls throughout for accuracy and repeatability
- Precision LED level and gain-reduction meters
- COMP IN switch for instant wet/dry comparison
- Not standalone — requires compatible 500 Series chassis
- Processor Type:500 Series Diode Bridge Compressor
- Number of Channels:1
- Controls:Threshold, Ratio, Timing, Blend, Gain
- Threshold:-25dB to +20dB
- Ratio:1.5:1 to 8:1
- Side Chain Inserts:Yes
- Module Slot Size:Single
- Manufacturer Part Number:535