| A few words about the Kenetek 1176LN from Bill Jones, the owner of Kenetek Pro Audio: |
I love analog compressors, and the 1176 is my one of my very favorites. It's definitely my 'desert island' compressor. The reason: it's so versatile. It can be so smooth it's barely noticable, or it can smash a signal into sonic mush. A good 1176 can be one of the most powerful tools in a musician/engineer/producer's arsenal.
So, what makes a good 1176 so good? I've been building and restoring 1176's for over 15 years now and here's what I've found. Getting great sound out of an 1176 is a combination of things, some big and some small.
Let's start with the big things first:
Biggest: original input and output transformers. I have not found any modern transformers that are able to duplicate the sound of the originals. That's why Kenetek 1176's use original, new-old-stock UTC O-12 transformers on the input and original BPMC B11148 transformers from the 1970's on the output.
Next: strict adherence to the original circuit design, including the original circuit board layout. It is grittier and noisier (in a good way) than the more compact, modern layouts other manufacturers are using.
Next: original transistor types gain matched to a reference set of original transistors. Kenetek 1176's use *original* transistors taken from less valuable Urei gear in the critical audio output stage.
And finally, shunt regulators using zener diodes in the power supply. This results in a power supply with a lower impedance and this affects the sound of the unit. Many modern units use IC regulators in the power supply because they are cheaper and easier. But they don't sound the same.
Now, on to the little stuff that makes a difference:
- Selected use of metal film and carbon composition resistors. Metal film for low noise, and carbon composition at critical points in the circuit to give the unit that classic flavor that is so desirable in the original units.
- Axial capacitors, just like the original units
- Capacitor types selected for their sound in this circuit. Premium types are not always better. There are certain points in the circuit where the most expensive capacitors don't sound the best.
- Premium wire. Kenetek units use selected Canare and Mogami 100% oxygen-free copper shielded cables for all signal interconnections.
- Strict attention to grounding and shielding. Kenetek 1176's are built in enclosures that are identical in shape, size and materials to the original units. Grounding, shielding and the routing of all wiring is optimized for lowest hum and noise.
If you think this is an extreme amount of work to replicate the original 1176 sound I would agree. This is why Kenetek compressors are so expensive to make and so rare in the marketplace. But, because of this attention to detail, numerous Grammy-winning producers, engineers and musicians have sought out the Kenetek 1176's because of their sound and reputation. And this satisfaction is why I keep building them one at a time.