Welcome to the Future of Dynamics!
When you first check out the A Designs HM2 Compressor, you might respond the way we did, "wait a second, where did the Ratio knob go?" That's just the first major departure from standard compression. There are also extra parameters, such as a second threshold control and a wet/dry mix control. So, it should come a no surprise when we say that the HM2 Compressor (or "Nail" as it's affectionately called) comes with a bit of a learning curve, but it's a learning curve that pays off big. There's a reason that A Designs called the HM2 Compressor the Nail, and that's because once you get comfortable with it, it's easy to nail the transients of just about any sound source. Few compressors out there even come close to the flexibility and precision of the Nail, from the way it make kicks and snares pop to the heroic way it can rehabilitate lack-luster bass. You're simply not going to find another compressor quite like the HM2 Compressor Nail.
The secret to the HM2 Compressor lies somewhere between its internal design and its unique control interface. Inside the Nail is an excellent hybrid arrangement of tube technology and diode-based feedback circuitry. Together, these vastly different-sounding components give you both the snappy response of solid-state engineering and the mellower, more melodic treatment of a tube signal path. You control the balance of these two qualities via the Nail's singular control system. The HM2 Compressor has variable Attack, Release, and Gain settings, just as you would expect from a compressor, but that's where the similarities end.
Probably the coolest function that the Nail offers you is a variable ratio control. This is a little difficult to figure out right away, but you need to spend time getting to know even the most straight-forward gear, so the learning curve isn't too steep. The way it works is that the HM2 Compressor uses two separate threshold controls. The regular threshold is more or less a continuously progressive soft knee, and you can dial in how steep the ratio is. At its most extreme, this setting will make the Nail bite down hard like a limiter. The Hard Threshold, on the other hand, lets you set where the regular Threshold takes over, so you can apply heavy compression with the regular Threshold setting, but keep it from kicking in until the signal gets hot with the Hard Threshold - a great setting for making kick drums punch through the mix.
Even though the filter section of the Nail isn't entirely unique to its design, it's also not a function found on many compressors. Essentially, the Nail splits each of its inputs and uses the split off signal as a detector, which acts as a kind of sidechain. The filter section allows you to roll off bass from the detector signal, so that the compression will only kick in when the technically quieter but more noticeable higher frequencies reach the threshold. This function lets you use the Nail more effectively when compressing kick drums, bass, or any sound that lives in the low-frequency range.
One more cool function of the Nail is its Mix control, which lets you blend your compressed with the original signal. Even though, traditionally, engineers have treated compression as an all or nothing process, many top engineers have used this blending trick to add subtle "umph" to instruments for years - the HM2 Compressor Nail simply lets you skip a step and free up a channel by including this function onboard. Just like its Variable Ratio and Filter sections, Mix control is one more function that shows how forward thinking the HM2 Compressor is. If you want to stay on the very leading edge of production technology, the HM2 Compressor Nail is the compressor to get!
A Designs HM2 Compressor "Nail" Features at a Glance:
2-channel configuration with stereo link option
Variable Ration function allows you to blend soft and hard threshold controls
Mix function allows you to blend compressed and uncompressed signal
Filter applied highpass filtering to the detection signal
Gain reduction/level switches allow you to change your metering preferences
Custom-milled aluminum knobs, and milled-aluminum face plate
Balanced output: XLR
Balanced input: XLR
Channel isolation: @1Khz 90dB
Frequency response: 3Hz-50KHz
Power requirements: 120/230 VAC, 23 watts
Dimensions: 19" x 3.5" x 10"
Weight: 10 lbs.
The A Designs HM2 Compressor "Nail" is ahead of the game, when it comes to fine tuning dynamics!