Beyond sidechain compression
nABC stands for not Another Boring Compressor, and that's exactly what it is.
The nABC makes sidechain compression easier, flexible and intuitive: sidechain can be triggered directly via MIDI, USB, analog synth signals (gate/cv) or pedals, without any need to route audio signal and with the freedom to decide the time, depth and shape of each compression.
We believe that this will unlock new creative possibilities for musicians!
Traditional sidechain compressors attenuate one instrument (for example the bass) when another instrument is playing (for example, the kick drum). This gives a cool "breathing" effect to the sound and tightens the mix. It also requires cumbersome audio routing with additional cables and audio buses, it is sensitive to audio levels and it does not allow any flexibility in shaping the compression. In the example above, the compression cannot be shorter than the kick drum sound, it cannot be shaped dynamically and it obviously cannot be triggered when the kick is not playing, making the effect static and predictable. All these issues are solved by the nABC.
Bassline fun with the nABC, a simple sequencer and an analog synthesizer
More sound examples:
- nABC + some analog and digital synths + 808 kick = dark electro beats:
- Drum machine + DAW + Analog sequencer + 2 x nABC = late night fun:
- Using the nABC to modulate the control voltage of a VCF (voltage controlled filter):
- As a "bonus", the nABC can even be used a small, portable traditional compressor. Here you see how it compares with studio-grade dedicated compressors which also lay in another size and price level:
As a musician and producer with a few radio and club hit tracks in my background, I have filled my studio racks with expensive dynamic compressors that are nevertheless not part of my creative process. But I am also an engineer, and when last year I received the Inventor of the Year award for some of my innovations, I decided to use that prize to fund SUONOBUONO and challenge the old compression paradigm. And that's how the nABC was born! With the help of a small team we designed it as a fun and intuitive tool for musicians.
The nABC sound
The nABC is a stereo analog sidechain compressor where compression can be concurrently triggered in different ways. It can be used as a traditional studio-quality dynamic compressor, to shape transients for any audio track. But the real innovation is that its sidechain can be triggered by analog gate/cv signals, USB, MIDI, audio signals, or even a pedal. For example, musicians can finally freely program analog sidechain compression patterns using sequencers, MIDI controllers or DAW, while at the same time being able to adjust the shape of each compression transient with millisecond-level precision. In addition to off-beat ducking effects, the nABC allows for example to individually shape the envelope of each note of an arpeggio, or to create dynamic gate-like effects on a pad or a vocal track. When processing drums, each hit may be compressed with individual settings. Compression is no longer a subtle sound engineer tool, but rather a creative weapon that shapes the sound and forms its character.
Studio quality in a new format
For longer than one year we have worked relentlessly, prototype after prototype, to create a product that is innovative, has the highest audio quality standards and it is yet affordable. The circuit used on the Kickstarter prototype is ready for production, while the aluminium case will receive minor improvements. More technical details are available here.
While benchmarking the nABC against other professional products, we managed to obtain lower harmonic distortion at low frequency compared to some well-known compressor brand. We also compared the nABC envelopes with those of a famous modular synthesizer and we noticed faster and deeper envelopes in the nABC, with lower noise. The nABC sound is very clean and can be used on individual instruments or on a bus. Even if you are not interested in sidechain compression, you may use it as a traditional compressor.
User interface and parameters
The core of the nABC is a 20 RGB LEDs ring that shows signal level, gain reduction and the value of the parameters being adjusted.
Elegant and robust touch pads are used to navigate the menu, and a custom aluminium knob adjusts the parameters. All classic compression parameters are available (attack, release, threshold, ratio, make up gain), as well as sidechain-specific settings (sidechain selection, depth, trigger hold, MIDI channel).
Audio parameters can be real time automated by USB and MIDI. They can also be stored in user presets, which is in itself a quite sweet feature for an analog compressor.
Bypass is toggled by pushing the knob.
The machined, custom aluminium case is elegant enough for a studio and robust enough for live.
Risks and challenges
The nABC has been progressively improved over more than one year, with a number of prototypes built by SUONOBUONO and by PCB Assembly factories and mechanical parts delivered by CNC machining factories. The prototypes have been successfully beta tested in different environments, and additional tests are ongoing. Parts of the product will be produced in dedicated factories, while other parts will be produced in-house and the final assembly will happen in Stockholm, Sweden. All units will be individually tested before delivery and shipped from Sweden.
The nABC is a complex instrument. The circuit includes an analog part for audio processing and a digital one for handling sidechain inputs and the user interface. As with any complex circuit, a residual error probability is unavoidable despite the testing effort.
When interfacing the nABC with third party equipment and especially with computers running different OS, drivers and software, there is a residual incompatibility possibility that may not necessarily be due to errors in the nABC.
SUONOBUONO will in good faith keep its backers updated on the project progress in an open and honest way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Environmental commitmentsVisit our Environmental Resources Center to learn how Kickstarter encourages sustainable practices.
- (30 days)