Daking FET II Compressor Review: Super Fast and Transparent

Daking Audio Gear: Mic Pre IV and 3 FET II Compressors

Daking Audio Gear: Mic Pre IV and 3 FET II Compressors

I currently have three of these units in my studio right now and I have had a chance to really put them through their paces.

First, I should say that the sound quality on these units is pristine. There is very little coloration of the sound even when using heavy compression. Many compressors seem to roll off high end when they attenuate heavily, but this is not the case with the FET II. The FET II uses Jensen transformers both in and out of the unit and the pc board is extremely clean and well designed. The FET is in a socket so if it were ever to go bad, it is easy to replace.

The FET II excels at transparent compression and is easily used on bus or program material where lesser compressors really start to sound yucky. The attack times vary between 250 micro seconds to 64 milliseconds and it’s fast enough to be used effectively as a brickwall limiter if desired. The release characteristics are I think what really set the compressor apart though. You have some standard settings of .5 – 1.5 seconds, but also some really nice dual time constant releases designed to mimic some of the nicest compressors in history. The idea behind dual time constant release is this: the compressor releases a little fast at the beginning and then slows down. This effectively eliminates the “pumping and breathing” sounds associated with more abrupt release times.

I have also been able to get some really nice vocal distortion (think Flood’s production techniques) out of it by using the fastest attack and release times and a very high ratio (20:1). Then I drive a very hot signal (over +20) and get a very pretty sounding harmonic distortion very appropriate for alternative rock vocals like NIN, PJ Harvey or Smashing Pumpkins.

I recommend using only XLR cables in and out of the unit, you can use a 1/4″ input but it boosts the signal 14 dB to make up for the -10/+4 difference in operating levels between consumer and pro gear. Another odd thing is the power supply (external, but not a wall wart) uses a DB25 connector which looks pretty weird, but works perfectly well. Just make sure your intern doesn’t try to run the power supply into the DB25 input on an audio interface or multitrack….Bad intern! Bad intern!

You can link two units together to work in stereo with a 1/4″ guitar cable. The sidechaining connection uses DC summing to tell the linked unit when to compress and does not send audio. The FET III does audio summing, but it’s in stereo and is geared more towards working in stereo anyway.

All of the knobs on the unit are switches so you can set two or more compressors exactly the same way and repeat your settings later on. The knobs are really heavy and feel like you’re really working with pro gear.

All in all this is a great compressor with excellent transparent compression that doesn’t color the sounds you are working with. You can use it to chase the waveform to create harmonic distortion with the fastest attack settings to add a little crunch to vocals, bass or drums.

I can’t recommend it more highly.

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