Sta-Level Tube Compressor
The Retro Sta-Level is a recreation of the legendary 1956 Gates Sta-Level. The Sta-Level dominated the sound of hit radio in the 1960’s. Now these super musical sounding compressors have found their way into today’s hits. The Retro Gold Edition celebrates fifty years of the products existence. The Retro Sta-Level improves on the original with six settings of recovery (release) time and three different modes of operation. Single is super smooth for bass tracks. Double is perfect for most every source you throw at it. The Triple mode allows the Sta-Level to clamp down on fast transient waveforms while still retaining great musicality. These new adjustments give you wide flexibility to find the perfect dynamics control for your specific application.
The Sta-Level utilizes a novel program controlled release circuit. The Sta-Level implementation creates density and consistency while minimizing typical compressor side-effects at up to 40dB of gain reduction! The program path is transformer balanced throughout to cancel control-induced distortion. Push pull circuitry with 6V6 output stage provides wide voltage swing for gain control and line output. The result is that the Sta-Level brings a uniquely familiar intimacy, air and warmth to your tracks.
- Revisions to the original design include:
- Tube balance can be instantly aligned without test equipment
- Uses a pair of easily-obtainable 6BA6 gain reduction tubes. The 6386 socket is still provided..
- Two or more Sta-Levels can be coupled together for stereo, surround or sidechain operation
- XLR transformer balanced input and output
- IEC Power Connector
- Hand matched audiophile-grade coupling capacitors
- High quality, custom wound transformers used throughout
- Internal component safety cover
- Gain Reduction Threshold: Continuously adjustable from +24dBm to -20dBm
- Available Gain Reduction: 40dB
- Total System Gain: 35dB (with standard input and output pads)
- Distortion: 1 percent or less from 0-30 dB gain reduction
- Frequency Response: ± .25dB from 20-20,000 Hz
- Noise: -70dB or better referenced to gain reduction threshold
- Output Level: Continuously adjustable from -40 dBm to +18 dBm
- Input Impedance: Accepts low impedance active or transformer balanced 0-600 Ohms
- Output Impedance: 600 Ohm transformer balanced, terminated and resistive pad coupled
- Tube Complement: 2-6BA6, 1-12AT7, 2-6V6GT, 1-6AL5, 1-OB2, 1-5Y3GT
- Power Requirements: Three prong IEC - Switchable 115-230 VAC - 50/60 Hz
- Mounting Requirements: 3U metal rack 5.25" high, 19" wide, 8" deep
Greg WellsFeb 22 2017
- Greg Wells See more...
Retro Instruments STA-LEVEL demo with Greg Wells. Kick drum, snare and bass guitar through the Retro Instruments Sta-Level compressor at Greg Wells’ studio, Rocket Carousel Studio, Los Angeles”
Mix MagazineFebruary 2007
- Kevin Becka See more...
“The Sta-Level defines creamy smoothness when it comes to tube compression. I’ve used it on a number of sources, from a lowly hi-hat to a lead vocal, and each time its personality makes you want more. I can’t say enough about using the three-position switch with the Recovery knob. It makes this compressor eminently usable on almost anything you throw at it.”
Music Connection Magazine
- Barry Rudolph See more...
“Retro adds modern features and new adjustability for more recording studio applications possible than the original units.”
Tape Op MagazineSeptember 2006
- Craig Schumacher See more...
“The whole reason to have vintage compression is for the sound it adds, and the STA-LEVEL adds classic tone immediately. On acoustic guitar, you can hit it very hard, and the guitar still sounds like an acoustic and not a thwacking, pumping, midrange assault that can result from too much reduction with a lot of compressors I’ve used in the past.”
What people are saying about the Retro Instruments Sta-Level
“The Retro Instruments Sta-Level was the main compressor I used throughout recording the Clapton record. The vocals were recorded mainly through a Neve 1073 and Pultec EQ to tape, letting the tape do the work on the way in. When mixing, I did a little vocal riding and the Sta-Level did the rest. It allowed me to keep Eric’s natural dynamics without ever losing the character or the nuances in his performance.
I also used the Retro Instruments Sta-Level on Wynton Marsalis’ trumpet, which kept the edges of the sound round. Then, whenever we needed to do a guitar or percussion overdub I’d keep it in the chain. It’s just one of those pieces of recording studio gear that makes a whole lot of things sound better once you put it through its painstakingly meticulous design. The Retro Instruments Sta-Level has the warmth, color and control I’ve always looked for in a tube compressor. Thanks again for another magic box.”Justin StanleyGrammy-Nominated Producer & Engineer
“I have an original Gates Sta-Level compressor, but it takes second place to my new Retro Instruments Sta-Level. I find myself turning to it for all of the elements that need to be both nuanced and dynamic: vocals, upright bass, bent horns and broken drums…things with the most unique character and complexion. I would swap out half of my recording studio rack for a few more of these.”Joe HenryGrammy-Winning Producer & Engineer
“Retro Instruments is building tube recording equipment that surpasses the legendary units they were inspired by. The audio performance is phenomenal and the exemplary build quality ensures accurate recall and daily reliability. My Retro Instruments 176 and Sta-Level are both as great as reported on Vocals and Drums but honestly I’ve run just about anything you can imagine through these units, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Vintage Analog Synths, Strings, Piano, all with fantastic results. The Retro Instruments 2A3 adds weight, air, and depth to anything you put it on, just a touch across the mix buss can do wonders. I can’t wait to hear what Retro Instruments builds next.”John O'MahonyGrammy Nominated Producer & Mixer<p>Recently used Retro on: Metric, Sara Bareilles, Vance Joy, The Cribs, Madi Diaz.</p>