Altec 1712A Compressor (Refurbished & Recapped) #3


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This 1712A has been modified with high-value bipolar capacitors in the audio path with film bypass caps and additional decoupling caps for the power supply. The basic character remains intact but the compressor now sounds cleaner and the operating window – the range within which the compressor sounds at its best – is wider

An XLR output adaptor cable is included with the compressor

The Altec 1712A is a VCA compressor in a super-tough 1U box. It was sold under both Altec & Electro-Voice brand names. It’s simple to operate with just threshold, ratio and output level controls. Attack and release times are program-dependent and vary with input level. It’s a simple utility compressor but it’s characterful and has a sound of its own

The 1712A has a good clean signal path – audio passes only though an input buffer, VCA and output buffer. It has a hardwire relay bypass. There are just two electrolytic coupling caps and these have been replaced with uprated parts. The 1712A uses an SSM (later Analog Devices) 2103 VCA chip, similar to that in the UREI 7110, so will have a different sonic footprint to a dbx compressor

As standard, the 1712A uses recessed knobs with a screwdriver slot for adjustment. That’s not too convenient in the studio so the pots have been brought forward to the front panel

“Man this thing can get NASTY. VERY 1176/dbx. As a matter of fact, if I recall it has an almost identical VCA as the jbl/urei 22(something)”

“1176-esque.. Distortion wise no, but squeeze-wise when you crank the ratio up you can get some serious pop out of it like using the transient designer or trans x. Kind of like a dynamite now that I think about it.. from what I’ve experienced so far it’s very interesting”

I found the 1712A to be a characterful compressor, quite sensitive to ratio & threshold settings. Attack & release times are program-dependent and it does a surprisingly good job of determining the ideal settings. On bass guitar it reacts quite differently to drums – as you’d expect – as transients determine how fast it reacts

When driven harder it sounds very punchy when presented with transients – drums in particular – and gets quite gnarly when pushed. At that point, backing off the ratio and pushing the threshold helps maintain definition

In some ways the 1712A is like a dbx 160X – both have threshold & ratio and you balance the two to get the desired result. Sonically, though, they are completely different animals. The Altec sounds darker & meatier than the dbx. Like the dbx it’s not a “One Size Fits All” device but more of a character compressor

One thing that stands out is the standard of construction. American-made products often come in tough steel cases, and the Altec is no exception, but the 1712A has the thickest front panel I’ve seen. The steel case is made in two parts which lock together and the compressor is clearly designed & built to last

The PCB is a large, thick, single-layer glass-fibre board and all components are through-hole. This compressor will be repairable long after newer SMD-based units have been scrapped as uneconomic to repair. The pots are mounted to a separate aluminium bracket and are not solely reliant on the PCB for support

In very good, used condition with minor marks. Refurbished in our workshops. Tested & working 100%. In my opinion these make a great alternative to a dbx 160X!

Inputs & outputs are balanced on barrier strip connectors and the input is also on XLR. The PCB has a footprint for an optional output transformer. Power input is 220 Volts via a standard IEC power socket. A UK or Euro Schuko power cable will be supplied on request
Standard 1U device suitable for all 19" racks
Operating Instructions
Fully refurbished with new audio coupling capacitors with bypass caps, additional decoupling for the power supply and control pots moved to the front panel. In extremely good condition with only very minor marks & scuffs An XLR output adaptor cable is included with the compressor Tested & working 100%. Photos show a 1712A sold previously