Valley Audio Dynamite³ Stereo Compressor / Limiter / Expander


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Valley Audio was one of the later incarnations of Valley People, Valley International and Allison Research. The common factor in all was Paul Buff, a recording engineer from Southern California. Buff started his own studio PAL in Cucamonga where he recorded bands including The Surfaris, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Frank Zappa. After starting Allison Research, Buff created the amazing Gain Brain compressor and later, at Valley People, he designed the equally extraordinary Dynamite. He also created & patented the Valley People TA-101 VCA which formed the basis of many of his designs

There are multiple versions of the Dynamite. The original Valley People Dynamite came in a 2-channel version in a beige plastic case and, later, in a 1U rack box with a black front panel and aluminium strips top & bottom. The Valley Audio version (in this auction) uses the SSM2018 VCA chip from Analog Devices. There is some discussion of the various version on Gearslutz – see the link below for details

The Dynamite has a huge reputation as a drum compressor. The reputation is well-founded – it excels at savage compression but still remains musical. It’s an ideal compressor for parallel compression – blending the compressed signal with the original gives the punch of the Dynamite along with the character of the original

Pevious Dynamite versions used FETs, Paul Buff’s own TA-101 or other VCAs so the choice of the SSM2018 is interesting. The contemporary UREI 7110 used the SSM2014 to good effect. SSM VCAs were in the ADSR sections of many synthesisers and were the best VCA chips of the day

The Dynamite³ is the final iteration of the Dynamite line and it lives up to the reputation. It’s awesome for drum compression and is able to bring up ambience without destroying the snap of the kit. The attack time has been chosen with care (there’s no attack control) and careful adjustment of the release time & ratio allow control over the level of ambience. Slow the release down a little and drums gain body quite dramatically. Compression ratios are fixed at 3, 6 and 20:1 and are well-chosen. 3:1 works beautifully on bass or for mild drum compression, 6:1 hits a little harder and 20:1 takes you into traditional Dynamite territory of super-compressed sounds. Like previous versions, Dynamite³ has a full-featured expander / gate

It’s easy to see the progression through the versions: the original was awkward to setup with cryptic labelling & poor ergonomics, but it still sounds awesome and super-extreme, as if on the verge of sonic annihilation. The Mk II is more polished, has a better control layout and super-fast, agile compression courtesy of the TA-101. The Dynamite³ moves the game along with a smoother sound, superb control linearity, a simpler layout and an output limiter. It’s the most polished of the three, and sounds most in control, but hasn’t fallen victim to the “VCA blandness” that afflicts so many compressors

Comments from the web on the various Dynamite models

“This is my favorite unit for gating, for squashed-with-a-sledgehammer limiting, and abusively loud sound”

“A bit hard to tame, but good for savage drum room compression”

“The dynamites sound cool on room mics, bottom snare, percussion, and various things needing squish, they are fast and tend to pull things up a bit, they sound fairly simalar, maybe the old ones are a tad more vibey…but ALL are cool. I have all three, and have resisted attempts to be parted from them…”

“When I want to slap those drums silly, the first place I reach is for a dyna-mite…. heh heh. Not a subtle compressor”

“I purchased one recently on sluts and have used it on tom group & electric guitar group… Recently it has stayed on my parallel drum group. it does something really cool in terms of smashing a kit. you can pull a lot of ambiance out of this box if you blend it just right with the rest of your kit mix”

“its a cool vibe piece if you like to smash things up”

“Yep. Not a lot of grace and subtlety to the VP dyna-mite. But it imparts a certain bigness – and has mojo in spades”

“the dyan-mite compressors are really cool, definitely adds snap to a week kick or snare, some times too much… I have also used mine on a guitar bus track”

“Never used the preamp but the compressor is spanking. Great drumsquasher!”

“we have some gain brains and they rock”

“the dynamites SPANK! Great for snares that you want brought into SUBMISSION!!!”

“Valley people ‘Transamp’ preamp modules kik ass.. pretty clean but punch like tyson!”

“the dyan-mite compressors are really cool, definitely adds snap to a weak kick or snare, some times too much… I have also used mine on a guitar bus track”

“wow. this thing is nuts. sooper fast attack. makes vocals stand up right in your face. you can make the attack of a snare inaudible”

“2 settings – smashed, and bypass”

VCA compressor using the Analog Devices SSM2018 VCA. Can be used as a twin-channel device - each channel has its own set of controls - but a stereo link switch links VCA action to maintain stereo image. Gain reduction is displayed on LED bargraphs

Inputs, outputs and External Inputs are balanced on jack connectors. External input allows keying of the compressor or gate. Insert jack for VCA control

This Dynamite has been cleaned, refurbished and the power supply recapped - see the top of this description for details. Tested and working 100%. It sounds fantastic!

Standard 1U device suitable for 19" racks. 220 Volt power input is via a standard IEC socket. Supply voltage is internally switchable. UK or Euro Schuko IEC power cable supplied on request

Valley Audio Dynamite Model 433 Manual

Valley People History

Valley People Audio Manuals

Sound on Sound Classic Compressors Review

Youtube Dynamite 2 & 3 demo

Gearslutz Dynamite Versions Discussion

Gearslutz Dynamite discussion

Joe Chiccarelli discusses the Dynamite

TapeOp Forum Discussion

History of Valley People


In excellent, used condition. Refurbished & recapped to a high standard. Tested & working 100%. Photos are of the item in this auction