Hardware equipment in the audio world can quickly become very expensive. If you want to start using it in your studio, you’re always better off starting with copies that are a bit cheaper than the originals. In the field of compressors, the Klark Teknik 1176-KT compressor is particularly popular. At IDeez Studio, we use it every day! Let’s take a closer look.
When it comes to entry-level audio equipment, Klark Teknik is very often among the most mentioned names, especially with its EQP-KT, KT-2 LA, 3rd Dimensions and, of course, its 1176-KT FET compressor. In this price range, this compressor is probably the best.
ℹ️ Do you want to learn more about its brother, the Klark Teknik EQP-KT? Then you can read this article on the Klark Teknik EQP-KT : Review Of A Quality Tube EQ
What is a FET compressor ?
There are 4 main types of compressors : VCA, FET, Opto and Vari-Mu. The type of compressor that interests us today is the FET compressor. A FET compressor is a compressor that uses a field effect transistor to compress incoming signals. This type of compressor is often appreciated for its ultra short attack and release time and for the character it gives to the processed sources. Indeed, when pushed to its limits, the transistor will create a slight distortion, often appreciated by sound engineers.
The most famous FET compressor is undoubtedly Universal Audio’s 1176, of which the 1176-KT is one of the best-selling clones on the audio market. But is it worth the price? Is the sound result close to the original? How to use it ? Answers here!
The Klark Teknik 1176-KT compressor is on sale for 329$ on all audio sales sites or on amazon. That’s almost 8 times less than the original Universal Audio hardware unit, on sale for 2500$.
In the field of audio hardware, 329$ is almost a bargain! Indeed, most of the professional audio equipment start at 1000$ minimum. This compressor from Klark Teknik is therefore very affordable. But when it comes to price, it’s always interesting to have points of comparison.
The piece with which the 1176-KT is very often compared is the WA-76 from Warm Audio. The price is incomparable : 699$. Having tried this compressor in another studio, I find the price difference completely unjustified. In my opinion, the sound quality is very similar and I find that the coloration brought by the 1176-KT is more adapted to what one is looking for with a FET compressor. A good point for the Klark Teknik compressor!
Regardless of the price, the first thing you probably want to know is the sound quality of this device.
The first interesting thing to know is that the 1176-KT uses Midas transformers. While many will find, rightly or wrongly, that Jenssen/Cinemag style transformers are much better in terms of audio performance, Midas is still an ultra reliable brand that has yet to prove itself.
As for the sound result, I find that the 1176-KT offers everything we are looking for. The coloration and the slight distortion is well present, without being excessive. The attack and release pots are faithful to the original. Then it will give a lot of warmth to all incoming audio sources. Finally, in limiter mode, the compressor will have no problem giving you the punch and snap of a typical FET compressor.
Despite the affordable price, you won’t get the impression that you are dealing with the typical sound result of a cheap piece of equipment that gives no character to the sound. On the contrary!
The only big flaw of this compressor is the rather loud background noise that surfaces when the output level is pushed harder. It can be disturbing in quieter projects where the processed source would not be surrounded.
But honestly, it will be enough to draw a simple gate to get rid of it, which will take about… 10 seconds! So I find this defect, in the end, very little disturbing.
Anything that needs to have more punch and character can be used with this compressor. Your creativity is your only limit, because even if you push the 1176-KT to its limits, the distortion created will, in most cases, be very musical. But here are some very classic cases :
The guitar is the typical instrument with which it will often be very pleasant to add a little warmth and character. With guitars, there is no need to push it to its limits. A little compression often does the trick.
With a relatively slow attack (even if we are talking about micro-seconds) and a fast release time you can capture the attack of the strings with acoustic guitars and enhance the aggressiveness on electric guitars.
B. Drum bus
There is nothing better than a FET compressor on a drum bus, and the Klark Teknik compressor is no exception. With a very high ratio and a fast attack and release time, you’ll give more snap to the snare drums, more punch to the kick drum and most importantly robustness and power to the whole drum kit.
As the 1176-KT is a mono unit, you will obviously need 2 of them to work on drum buses. If you only have one, you can also decide to do a mono summation to attack the compressor in parallel, but this presents a risk of narrowing the stereo image quite obviously.
Try it out!
I think that voices are the sound element that the 1176-KT works best with. You can use it in two ways.
- Either, in a relatively subtle way, to add a slight coloring to the voice, making it warmer and more robust.
- Or more aggressively to push it to the forefront and make the syllables punchier.
It is often very pleasant and comfortable to use in recording. To give character from the recording phase and to avoid any kind of clipping at the input of your DAW. But for the reasons mentioned above, it will also be ideal in the mixing phase.
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If you want to start using gear in your mixes, recordings and productions, the Klark Teknik 1176-KT is the perfect piece. For its more than affordable price, ease of use, sound quality and versatility, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this compressor for a second.
On vocals, guitars, drum bus or anything that needs more character, the 1176-KT will quickly become a must-have tool in your studio setup.
If you have any question about that product or about anything in the field of music mixing, please contact me, I’m always happy to help!
My favorite tools for mixing pop and hip-hop music:
In the field of auto-tune, I’m convinced that nothing’s better and more efficient than Antares Auto-Tune Pro. As for the EQ’s, FabFilter Pro-Q3 and Slate Digital Infinity EQ are, in my opinion, the best tools. For compression, I have 2 favorites plugins: Waves RComp and UAD EL8 Distressor.
As for reverb, I’m a big fan of the Soundtoys Little Plate, but generally, I go for the Valhalla VintageVerb for its versatility. I also love the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 and the UAD Pure Plate for its organic side.
The closed headphones I love and will always love using for mixing pop and hip-hop music are the Beyerdynamic DT-770. As for the best open-back headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD600 headphones, and I’m really happy of them!
Having a pair of Yamaha HS7 in its studio or home studio is always cool for more excitement while listening to your mixes. The Adam Audio T7V monitors are also super accurate. In my studio, I also have a pair of Genelec 8030 for their reliability.
For anyone who wants to start using hardware in their mixes, I always recommend these 2 units from Klark Teknik: the EQP-KT and the 76-KT. Don’t forget to use good converters, such as the Apollo interfaces. This is essential for a good rendering.
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