The Fairchild 670 and 660 are the most coveted vintage compressor/limiters in the world, with good reason. These 20-tube tone titans — which now fetch upwards of $50,000 — impart an unmistakable silky warmth heard on hundreds of hit records from the Beatles and Pink Floyd, to Miles Davis and countless Motown classics. Now your vocal tracks, drum bus, and entire mix can benefit from the world’s most accurate plug-in recreations of these one-of-a-kind compressors.
The very first Fairchild limiter that audio genius Rein Narma created on Les Paul’s kitchen table transformed the sound of recording forever. Soon, these 20-tube, 14-transformer, 67-pound behemoths were embraced by world-class studios, many of which still employ their vintage Fairchilds despite the increasing difficulty in maintaining these tube-driven tone machines.
For a half-century, the Fairchild 670 — and its aggressive little brother, the Fairchild 660 — have defined popular music’s most revered vocal and drum sounds. In fact, the world’s elite mixers often employ a 670 simply for the “glow” it brings to their final mixes, even without the compression circuitry engaged.
In 2004, Universal Audio released the Fairchild 670 Legacy plug-in, which was quickly heralded as the best 670 emulation available. Today, UA’s team of DSP experts have improved the original Time Constants and gain reduction curves, while modeling — for the first time ever — the complete tube-powered amplifier and transformer sections of their hardware counterparts. Far beyond other Fairchild emulations, only the new UAD Fairchild Collection is based on an accurate circuit models of Ocean Way Studios' “golden-reference” units.
Although the Fairchild Tube Limiter Plug-In Collection nails the classic sonics of yesteryear, it also sports useful new features for modern workflows.
By using the Fairchild’s Sidechain Filtering, you gain another level of control over your tracks. In this example, it’s used to punch up the drum bus to enhance its impact without triggering the threshold of the compressor with the kick drum.
The Headroom (HR) control can be increased to make mastering applications a breeze, raising the gain reduction threshold and lowering distortion. Conversely, you can decrease headroom, lowering the gain reduction threshold and raising distortion for grittier textures that work on everything from vocals and drums to guitar and bass.
Combined with the Electro-Optical (LA-2A) and FET-based (1176) compressor plug-ins, the Fairchild’s unique tube-driven sound completes the compression “Triple Crown.” Renowned for its aggressive power on piano, bass, and guitar, the 660 is a stereo/mono version of the original mono compressor, while the flagship 670 is a full stereo compressor that can inject vibe and color into tracks or add the final touch to mixes.
How different is the Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection from the original UAD Fairchild plug-in?
The Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection benefits from more than 10 years of UA’s evolving sophistication designing plug-ins, plus the additional processing power afforded by the UAD-2 over the original UAD-1. While our original Fairchild plug-in's compression behavior remains an excellent rendition of the hardware, the new Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection plug-ins benefit from improved complexity with the tube amplifier and gain reduction nonlinearities (distortions) and updated time constant behaviors. Hands down, these are the most musical and authentic Fairchild plug-in emulations ever created.
How are the Fairchild 670 and 660 different from each other, sonically?
Besides their obvious mono and stereo differences, the Fairchild 670 and 660 models offer variations in Threshold and DC Threshold behaviors, total gain, input attenuation range, distortion amount and structure, program dependence, time constant subtleties, and more. This provides an expanded palette within the Fairchild sound — just like a professional studio might have with various hardware units on hand. The 660 may be handy with mono sources, or when less control is required. Both plug-ins work as mono or stereo plug-ins.
Is the new 670 plug-in still based on the same hardware you modeled originally?
The target unit was indeed the same Ocean Way Recording Fairchild unit #505 we originally modeled in 2004. The unit’s gain reduction components were carefully re-tubed and re-capped with period accurate NOS components to get it as close as possible to its original from-the-factory behavior.
Why does the old 670 compress so much more than the new one at the same settings?
The Legacy 670 plug-in’s Input Gain parameter was tuned to have maximum control over Threshold by adding a lot of additional gain to the Input (around 15 dB more gain than the hardware). The new 670 remains faithful to the exact gain range and amplifier behaviors of the original hardware. The new 660 and 670 are calibrated to -16 dBFS. The Headroom (HR) control will allow the user the get similar compression amounts as the 670 Legacy version and beyond, and makes setting a higher ratio with DC Threshold much easier. Conversely, Headroom settings can be increased to make mastering applications a breeze. Counter clockwise Headroom selections increase headroom and therefore raise the gain reduction threshold and lower distortion behaviors. Clockwise selections decrease headroom, therefore lowering the gain reduction threshold and raising distortion behaviors.
Does the Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection replace the "old" Fairchild plug-in?
No, the original Fairchild 670 Legacy plug-in will be included in the UAD collection of plug-ins. The original Fairchild 670 plug-in remains useful, in that it consumes less DSP, and is less sonically “colored” — which may be desirable in some instances.
Can I still purchase the “old” Fairchild plug-in?
For UAD customers who do not already own the Fairchild 670 Legacy plug-in, they will get it as a third plug-in title with the purchase of the new Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection.