FG-Stress Overview

Introduction

I remember when the Distressor came out in the late nineties. Word of this compressor chameleon spread fast in the audio world, and as I sat in the studio lounge reading the now infamous review in Mix Magazine that claimed that this box could sound like so many classics, I thought to myself: “I need to hear this thing”. 

I got my wish rather quickly. The studio I interned at ended up getting a pair of them since they were more affordable than most vintage compressors. The first thing we did was put them on room mics on the “nuke” setting, fast attack, fast release… a job previously accomplished by some 1176s. Well, the 1176s retired on drum mic duty that day.

Then we put one of them on a vocal, 4:1, medium attack, fast release, hi pass on, and the “peak” filter in the detection. Bam… vocal sounded rich, fat, and in your face without those pressing upper mids.

We tossed it on 10:1 with the famous “opto” settings, and it made a bass guitar sing through the mix.

We put it on 3:1 for some kick and snare, and it added punch, sustain, and tightness… without even sounding compressed.

Quickly we realized that every ratio brought on a new and unique sounding compressor. Add in all the options like the 2nd and 3rd Harmonic Distortion Generators, sidechain options, and signal path options, and there really wasn’t anything the Distressor couldn’t handle.

So it brings us great joy to announce the Slate Digital FG-Stress, a precise digital replication of this incredible piece of technology that is licensed from Empirical Labs. And let me tell, the journey to get here has not been easy.

The FG-Stress development was the most challenging development in company history. It was equal to developing eight different compressor plugins with their own characteristics. Then factor in all of the extra options such as the distortion modes, and the fact that the Distressor is a feedback design where so much of the circuitry dynamically  interacts… and you have one hell of a complex design!

But after a strenuous two year development, we did it. And here is where I must explain the “we”. Slate Digital is widely known for its two founders, myself and Fabrice Gabriel, but the FG-Stress is a result of our incredible development team who work tirelessly behind the scenes. These geniuses should receive the accolades that they rightfully deserve, so it is my privilege and honor to give a special thanks to Raphael, Romain, and Francois for their tireless work.  

You’re going to love the FG-Stress just as engineers all around the globe love the Distressor. And so on behalf of the whole team here at Slate Digital, we hope you make some killer mixes!

Steven Slate

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FG-Stress Controls

The FG-Stress module offers all the controls from the EL8 Distressor, plus an additional Mix knob to blend between dry and wet signals.

fg-stress-leds.png

Input

Input Gain before the compressor, going from 0 to 10.5. Increasing this parameter will result in more compression. Default value is 5.

Attack

Controls the speed at which compression occurs after the signal has exceeded the threshold value. Attack time goes from 0 to 10.5, with default value at 5.

Release

Controls the speed at which compression stops, once the signal has fallen below the threshold value. Release time goes from 0 to 10.5, with default value at 5.

Output

Output Gain after the compressor, going from 0 to 10.5. Use this parameter to compensate the gain reduction introduced by the compression. Default value is 5.

Ratio

Ratio defines the amount of gain reduction. For example, if the Ratio is set to 4:1, this means for input level 4dB over the threshold, 1dB will be output. Default Ratio is 6.

NUKE Ratio has a limiting curve, meaning that any input level over the threshold will be clipped.

You can switch to higher Ratios by left-clicking on the Ratio button, or switch to lower Ratios through the right-click.

Shortcuts

  • Moving the Input or Output Knob while holding the Shift key inversely links the two controls. It is very useful with 1:1 Ratio to use the module as a line driver.
  • Switch to higher Ratios by left-clicking on the Ratio button
  • Switch to lower Ratios by right-clicking on the Ratio button
  • Switch to any Ratios by clicking on the Ratio LED
  • Trigger the Opto Mode (Attack 10 and Release 0) by holding the Shift key when clicking on the Ratio 10:1 LED

Detector

Activate one of these detector modes to modify the sidechain signal:

  • HP: Add a 86 Hz high-pass (6dB/oct) to stop low frequency modulation.
  • Bell: Push a 6 kHz bell to increase the compression sensitivity in the mids.
  • Link: Combine Left and Right inputs before feeding a single mono signal to the detector, therefore the same GR is applied on Left and Right. Please note that this mode is effective with stereo tracks only.

Audio

Activate one of these audio modes to modify the overall output signal:

  • HP: Add a 80 Hz high-pass (18dB/oct) to smoothly attenuate lows.
  • Dist 2: Add a 2nd harmonic in the compressed signal.
  • Dist 3: Add a 3rd harmonic in the compressed signal.

Please note that Dist 2 and Dist 3 cannot be on at a time, thus 5 states are available:

  • HP
  • HP + Dist 2
  • Dist 2
  • Dist 3
  • HP + Dist 3

Mix

Usual Mix knob to blend between dry and wet signals.

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Visual Indicators

GR Meter

The GR meter has 16 LEDs and is scaled in dB.


In Stereo, without Link engaged (true Stereo operation), the GR meter displays the maximum GR of both channels. In other cases (Mono or Stereo + Link), there is only one GR signal so no need to specify.

Distortion Indicators

  • REDLINE
  • 1% THD

From 0.25% of the Total Harmonic Distortion, the yellow LED 1% THD lights up, and from 3% of the THD, the REDLINE lights up and 1% THD goes off.

This indicator is especially useful when the Audio Distortion options are enabled and/or when the compressor is off (1:1 Ratio).

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