Yamaha GC2020B II Stereo Compressor / Limiter


Yamaha GC2020B II Stereo Compressor / Limiter, 1U rackmount, vintage analogue

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Yamaha is best known in the studio world for digital reverbs and effect units* but the company made regular forays into other kinds of outboard gear. The GC2020 was a long-running item in their catalogue and the B II is one of the later versions

The unit has the usual quartet of attack / release / threshold / ratio controls, plus input and output levels, bypass switch and an expander / gate threshold. Gain reduction is shown on a 5-segment LED bargraph display and there is a separate LED for the gate. The stereo / dual mono switch is on the front panel by the power switch

I had a great time smashing things to pieces with this compressor. Subtlety isn’t its strong point – it likes to grab, and grab hard. Slowing up the attack time and shortening the release can be used to create mammoth pumping effects with reverbs & background sounds being squashed by whatever is keying the compressor. Shortening the attack time mellows it out a lot and reduces pumping, so it can be polite when it needs to be

The GC2020 treads a fine line between compression & distortion but appropriate setting of the gain structure keeps the signal clean. The sound gets messy when a lot of gain reduction is used, but raising the compression ratio and backing off the threshold improves things markedly. The secret is not to use excessive gain reduction – and set the attack & release times carefully

Lots of these Yamaha compressors saw service in live sound rigs, and are somewhat battle-scarred, but this one has clearly been looked after. They are from the era when “Made in Japan” meant a top-quality unit and the paint finish & general build quality makes modern kit look rather cheap & nasty

*And pianos, digital keyboards, drum kits, guitars, brass instruments, woodwinds, violins & violas. And motorbikes

The 2020 has balanced inputs via XLR and jacks and balanced output via XLR and separate unbalanced outputs via jack. Levels are switchable, per channel, between -20 and +4 dBm to allow matching with your chosen operating levels. The detector circuit is routed via in/out jacks on the rear panel. These are normally linked with a shorting loop but external devices can be patched here to EQ the sidechain or to create ducking effects. This is quite a rare feature on compressors in this price range
1U device for standard 19" racks. Captive 240V mains cable with UK plug
In excellent used condition. All knobs & switches are original and in good order. There are a few minor scratches on the case, and a couple of tiny marks at the mounting holes, but overall it's exceptionally clean for a vintage device