The Buzz Audio ARC-1.1 advanced recording channel strip. Imagine a analog recording channel with eq & compression that can be used as a channel strip, or separately.
The Buzz Audio ARC-1.1 is a outboard channel strip combining a mic/line preamp, equaliser, compressor and limiter in one box. It has primarily been designed for recording and processing the human voice and sports a host of features that have been inspired by suggestions from audio professionals from around the globe. The ARC includes tried and trusted elements from other Buzz Audio products plus some new innovations specifically developed for this unit. Whilst aimed at vocal recording and processing, the ARC is a useful tool for all sorts of recording and mixing applications. With all the connection and routing options available, the ARC may be used as a seperate Mic Preamp, DI Box, Equaliser and Compressor/Limiter (optionally with sidechain EQ), all at the same time.
First up is the all important mic preamp. The ARC utilises the Buzz BE40 True Class A high speed amplifiers developed for the MA-2.2 mic preamp. The BE40 amplifiers ensure accurate transient detail reproduction and very good noise performance. Another feature is the padless input circuit with a +15dB gain boost switch instead, providing a total MIC GAIN range of +9 to +65dB.
The MIC LOAD control adjusts the mic input impedance from 200 ohm thru to 5k ohms apprx. This control provides another means of varying the tonal quality of the connected microphone. The 48V phantom power switch features a soft start circuit to avoid thumps and bangs.
A direct output of the mic preamp stage is available on the rear panel allowing use of the mic pre section whilst using the ARC in line mode.
Next up is the line input stage which is either the rear panel balanced XLR input (with loop thru) or front panel unbalanced high impedance input. LINE GAIN is variable from 0dB to +40dB. In addition, a -10dB pad can be switched into the balanced input to cater for those hot signals from D-A convertors. In addition to attenuating the input, the -10dB switch raises the input impedance from a nominal 20k ohms to 70k ohms which allows the driving device to freely deliver high level without undue distortion.
Here's where you select the MIC or LINE input to feed the main output of the ARC. The OUTPUT GAIN control provides +10dB of additional gain as well as acting as a fader. This control can be useful for setting the correct level into -10dBv devices such as computer sound cards.
Also available here is a PHASE reverse switch with MUTE in the centre position. Another switch selects NORMAL output or S/C MON which allows you to hear what is being fed into the sidechain of the compressor section. Next up is the CLEAN - TRANNY switch. In CLEAN mode, the audio path is direct. In TRANNY mode, a transformer is switched into the signal path introducing low frequency harmonics and providing yet another tonal variation to the signal.
The HIGH PASS FILTER (part of the equaliser section) features variable filtering of low frequency signals from 25Hz up to 450Hz. The filter has a musical 12dB/oct slope and can be switched into the main signal path (IN), or into the sidechain (S/C) of the Opto Compressor, or when selected to EXT, the filter is available externally via the rear EQ in/out XLR's.
The four band parametric EQ features HIGH and LOW shelving sections. The LOW SHELF features two selectable turnover frequencies and utilises a true inductor (choke) resulting in a very tight sounding bottom end control. The HIGH SHELF offers a BROAD or TIGHT shelving curve. Each section can be individually switched IN to the main path or into the sidechain (S/C) of the ARC Optical Compressor. When switched to EXT, the sections are available externally via the rear panel EQ in/out XLR's.
Following that are two MID BAND sweepable equaliser sections with adjustable bandwidth (sometimes referred to as "Q"). The BW control features a tight notch setting when fully counterclockwise. The FREQUENCY range of mid band 1 is 30Hz to 700Hz or 300Hz to 7kHz when the x10 switch is engaged. Mid band 2 sweeps from 160Hz to 3.4kHz or 1600Hz to 34kHz when x10 is selected. Once again, each midband is selectable IN to the main path, into the S/C of the compressor of into the EXT EQ path. Very VERY handy !!
Incorporated into the ARC is a single channel version of the Buzz Audio SOC1.1 Stereo Optical Compressor and a new Peak Limiter. The limiter/compressor combination can be switched PRE or POST the equaliser section or out of the main path altogether (EXT). When selected to EXT, the Compressor is available for independant operation via the rear panel Comp IN/OUT balanced XLR's.
The COMP DRIVE control varies the amount of compression, similar to a threshold control on other compressors. COMP RATIO is switched 2:1, 5:1, 10:1 or 20:1 but all ratio's feature a soft knee characteristic. COMP RELEASE time is selectable from 100 milli-seconds to 1.6 seconds and also includes an AUTO position which is program dependant. Three ATTACK time settings are available, with FAST being VERY fast for an Opto type compressor. Finally, a LINK switch allows linking to another ARC for stereo operation. Compressor Gain Reduction is displayed with a 12 element bargraph display.
The VERY fast attack peak limiter utilises a FET (field effect transistor) for the gain reduction element and the release time can be selected FAST, MED or SLOW. The Limiter can be independantly switched into the ARC main signal path (Post EQ) or accessed via the rear Comp In/Out XLR's. It is always Post the Opto when used in combination. Although primarily designed to catch peak levels that would otherwise cause "overs" on digital recorders, the peak limiter can be used for some very heavy compression effects - we'll leave it up to you to discover what that can sound like !! Limiter action is displayed with a single LED.
The combination of the Opto Compressor with EQ-able sidechain and the output Peak Limiter give the ARC a very powerful dynamics package indeed. The peak limiter (always post the Opto compressor) has the ability to catch transients missed by the slower opto action thereby providing a near zero attack time compressor system.
Last but not least is the METER select switch which displays on the 12 segment bargraph the INPUT level (ie post the mic/line gain stages), or OUTPUT level (what is leaving the ARC main output). The meter can also be switched OFF. The OVER LED is driven by a circuit that monitors audio level at critical points within the ARC signal path and will light when levels exceed +20dBu.
Not immediately apparent to the reader maybe the unique flexibility of the ARC. With all the connection options available, the ARC may be used as a seperate Mic Preamp, DI Box, Equaliser and Compressor (optionally with sidechain EQ), all at the same time. Get two ARC's and acheive this in stereo !! We like it.
Main Path Frequency Response (measured without EQ, Comp/Limiter or Tranny switched IN)
Mic Input to Mic Direct Out: 3Hz to 400kHz (-3dB) Mic Input to Main Out: 4Hz to 400kHz (-3dB) Bal Line Input to Main Out: 3Hz to 250Khz (-3dB) Bal Line In with Tranny selected: 12Hz to 100kHz (+/-1dB),+5 @ 250Khz, -3dB @ 400Khz Instrument Input to Main Out: 9Hz to 300kHz (-3dB)
External Path Frequency Response
Compressor External Path (no Limiter): 5Hz to 250kHz (-3dB) Compressor External Path (with Limiter): 5Hz to 80kHz (-3dB) Equaliser External Path (with all EQ zeroed and no HPF): 5Hz to 200kHz (-3dB)
Total Harmonic Distortion
Mic Input to Mic Direct Out: 100Hz=0.005% 1kHz=0.005% 10kHz=0.015% Compressor External Path (no Limit, no GR): 100Hz=0.01% 1kHz=0.004% 10kHz=0.006% Compressor External Path (with Limit, no GR): 100Hz=0.01% 1kHz=0.01% 10kHz=0.02% Compressor External Path (10dB of GR @ 20:1, Release at16, +10dB Make Up Gain): 100Hz=0.15% 1kHz=0.15 10kHz=0.18% Limiter in External Path (10dB GR, Release Slow): 100Hz=0.2% 1kHz=0.08% 10kHz=0.18% Bal Line Input to Main Out: 100Hz=0.0015% 1kHz=0.001% 10kHz=0.001% Bal Line Input to Main Out with Tranny: 100Hz=0.3% 1kHz=0.05% 10kHz=0.015 Instrument Input to Main Out: 100Hz=0.08% 1kHz=0.025% 10kHz=0.025%
Noise (all measured A weighted ref to 0dBu = 775mV RMS)
Mic Input (65dB gain, 150 ohm source impedance): -71dBu (EIN 132.5dB) Bal Line In (10dB gain, 150 ohm source impedance): -95dBu Unbal Line In (10dB gain, 0 ohm source impedance): -100dBu Compressor External Path (no Limiter): -90dBu Compressor External Path (with Limiter): -80dBu Equaliser External Path (no cut/boost): -90dBu
Levels (0dBu = 775mV RMS)
Maximum Mic input level: +14dBu Maximum Bal Line input level: +23dBu (+33dBu with -10dB Pad engaged) Maximum Unbal Line input level: +10dBu Maximum Output level (all outputs): +23.5dBu
General Power requirements: 115V/230V selectable on rear panel Dimensions: 2U rack mount, 300mm deep