Chandler TG12413 Limiter – Sound on Sound, Jan. 2007

Chandler EMI TG12413 Formats: Mac & PC, TDM & RTAS
by: Sam Inglis
Sound on Sound - January 2007

The best-known studios of the 60s and 70s all had their own, identifiable sound, and none more so than Abbey Road. Lots of factors contributed to the unique sonic fingerprint of EMI’s in-house studio, from its engineering practices to the shape of the recording rooms and their lush reverb chambers. Among those factors were the numerous pieces of equipment that were custom-built or extensively modified by EMI staff, and of those, the TG-series desks introduced in the late 60s hold pride of place.

Chandler already makes hardware compressors, limiters, preamps and channel strips based on the TG-series design, but TG12413 is their first plug-in. Available for Pro Tools LE and TDM on Mac and PC, it emulates the compressor/limiter built into every channel on the TG-series mixers. It’s authorized to an ilok key, and installed by the slightly clunky but effective method of copying two DPM-format files into your Pro Tools plug-ins folder.

One glance at the interface tells you that controllability isn’t the prime reason for this plug-in’s existence. There are four controls, all of which are stepped and can be moved either by clicking and dragging, or simply by clicking the appropriate number on the scale. The most basic control is a switch that sets whether the plug-in should act as a compressor or a limiter. These modes have fixed attack times of 44 and eight milliseconds respectively, while release time is adjustable using a six-position Recovery switch. In limiter mode, the fastest release available is 50ms and the slowest two seconds, and switching to compressor mode scales these up by about five times.

As is the case in many vintage dynamics processors, there’s no Threshold setting. To get more compression, you simply up the input gain to drive the unit harder. On the original unit, the input gain control was rather unconventional and not especially intuitive, and sensibly, Chandler has provided two versions of the plug-in. One is faithful to the original, while the other has a conventional gain control. And, apart from an output gain control, that’s it. A retro-style VU meter displays gain reduction: it’s not the most helpful visual feedback, but this isn’t the sort of processor you’d use in situations where you need absolute precision. Its raison d’etre is to add character to your tracks, and boy, does it do that.

I can’t ever recall testing a plug-in compressor that can match TG12413 for sheer punchiness. In compressor mode, it can pump like a nodding donkey in an oil field, but I found I used it more in limiter mode, where the snappier time constants seemed to work for almost everything. The attack is just slow enough to let transients through, so it can add substance to a drum track without losing the initial ‘crack’ of the snare. Alternatively, it can nail a vocal to the front of the mix without sucking the life from it. Buying TG12413 alone won’t turn your mixes into Dark Side Of The Moon, but you may well experience moments when it really does seem to bring a little slice of Abbey Road into your life.

—Sam Inglis