Orban 414A Stereo Compressor


This Orban compressor is being refurbished. Photos and updated details to follow

Bob Orban is one of the unsung heroes of recording & broadcasting. His products are in use all over the world and have been for around forty years. Orban is not as well-known in the UK as in the USA but, in the 80s and 90s, plenty of UK studios had an Orban De-esser, equaliser or – if they were very lucky – a compressor. They’re not flashy or high-tech, but they’re flexible, accurate & sound great. They have an indefinable mojo

Orban products were aimed primarily at the broadcast industry but found favour in recording studios. The things they bring from the broadcast environment – great build quality, modular construction and attention to detail – make them ideal in a studio environment

The Orban 414A is part of a small range of VCA compressors, each designed with different goal in mind. Orban’s raison d’ĂȘtre was broadcast, so many had features aimed at broadcasters. The 414A does away with the de-esser and gain reduction hold functions of the 424A compressor in favour of a simpler approach with traditional attack, release, threshold & ratio controls

When you first fire it up the 414A seems unremarkable. It’s sensitive to control settings and can feel a little “grabby” till you fine-tune the attack & release. At that point it sounds like a cross between an opto and a smooth VCA compressor. Raising the ratio above 3:1 pushes transients back quite remarkably, particularly if the attack time is shortened. At this point it’s displaying a bit more attitude and sounding more 70s and compressed. Go past this point and the magic begins to happen – wind the threshold lower, crank up the output level, the meters start dancing and the 414A does its thing

Used in this fashion the 414A abandons neutrality and becomes a character compressor like no other. It’s may be over the top for some uses but for parallel compression, drum room squashing & spicing up vocals this is one of the best compressors I’ve ever used

Unusually it has XLR connectors & jack sockets as well as the normal terminal strips.

The 414A has a front panel power switch & a stereo link switch. The other controls are as follows: Channel A (repeat for channel B)

  • Gain Reduction meter
  • Input attenuator
  • Overload LED
  • Output attenuator
  • Output Clip LED
  • Threshold
  • Ratio
  • Attack Time
  • Release Time
  • Bypass switch

Inputs and outputs are balanced on barrier strip connectors, jacks and XLRs

The input & output sections have overload & clip indicators. Threshold is adjustable separately so it's possible to setup operating levels (gain stage) the unit with the input & output controls and use the threshold control to control the depth of compression. If you're pushing gain reduction quite hard you'll need to tweak up the output controls to match levels in bypass

Mains input is 220 Volt AC (switchable internally to 110 V) via a captive mains lead with a standard UK power plug

Standard 2U device suitable for 19" racks. Switchable 220 / 110 Volt with a back-panel fuseholder, fixed power cable and standard UK mains plug

Operating manual



Exceptionally good condition for a vintage piece. Tested & working 100%

The pots & switches have been cleaned & lubricated. The bypass switches cause clicks & pops but this is usual with directly-switched bypass circuits in older equipment, particularly when switching bass-heavy material