"The BG2 is officially my favorite tube compressor on the planet!"
"Fuck yeah. This is the only compressor I've bought within one minute of hearing it. Incredible think and musical compression.
"It's impossible to make it sound bad - only shades of more awesome."
Slack Key Studio
"The BG2 compressor is the best of Golden Era tube technology mixed with modern features and versatility. Good luck to other compressors trying to hang with this comp. Bring your oversized transformers and pack a big lunch, because you're going to need both.
"The BG2 is the best compressor you can buy out of the box today, hands down. As you know, I have a bag full of "one trick ponies" and the reason is the sonic qualities they add to the music. I shy away from the versatile stuff because it's boring. Well, now I need to rethink that, because this compressor does both. The BG2 can hit drums hard like a BA6A or be subtle like an RS124. This just made half of my compressors obsolete."
Owner, Tiny Telephone
"We have a BG1 and a BG2 in both rooms. They are very important to us at Tiny Telephone."
"I use them for all sorts of stuff - running through them in non compression mode to give a digital bright track the analog haircut…for classy distortion, to bring a snare to life. I love having the feedback switch as it lets you change the character and behavior of the amp. Kinda takes you from black face to tweed, but in the limiter. And the impedance select is really handy when dialing in a tone. It truly sounds like it is built, robust and with character."
"I felt like when using the BG2 on vocals, the unit knows what the singer is singing before the signal even hits the unit. When I got my first BG2, my only problem with the unit was that I didn't know whether to put it on bass guitar or lead vocal in every mix because it did both so well... which is why I'm getting a second one."
Engineer, Producer, Hyde Street Studios
"The BG2 has a tone that’s instantly familiar, classic, and adds much needed vibe to so many of my recordings. It’s so easy to use, it’s almost hard to make this compressor sound bad! When used more aggressively, it's become an essential part of so many great records I've made over the last five years."
I met Bryce after very recently relocating to Los Angeles from 10 years in NYC. We had friends in common and when my buddy told me he had a friend that was making hand-wired tube comps, I knew I had to hear them. I had blown through all my savings (and gone wildly into debt) moving out here and buying a house, but when I put ears on these things, I knew they would never leave my rack until someone pried them out of my lifeless claws. Like it was literally buy these compressors and sit on the floor or buy kitchen chairs and some aerons... I mixed on a folding Ikea chair for about four months and we were eating cereal on a rug.
We all know how futile it is to try to describe the visceral reaction you get from hearing equipment you love, but that's what I'm here to do, so here goes. When I heard the BG2 for the first time, I was immediately connected to whole diaspora of incredible Abbey Road recordings that (for many of us) are the reason we do what we do. However, there are a number of things in Bryce's design that move the bar a little higher too. The impedance and feedback options allow for a much wider range of textures than many of the highly prized vintage vari-mu boxes these connect to. Moreover, because this is a modern comp, it's much better behaved than the vintage options in terms of noise floor, replicability of settings for recalls, and stability. The fucking thing is built like a tank. Also, once you add the time constant options to the aforementioned unique sets of impedance and feedback controls, you can create a pretty limitless set of great sounding curves for a widely varied set of input sources. I've gotten incredible lead vocal sounds, incredible guitar and bass sounds, incredible piano sounds, it's even awesome for destroying drum room mics. This is an area where the BG2 particularly excels, in my opinion, as so many of the colorful vintage options I've messed with have one stellar application and several kinds of okay applications. Also, because Bryce is himself a stellar engineer in addition to being a killer designer, there's that perfect confluence of a highly useful box that was purpose built by someone who has sensibilities honed on both sides of the glass..
Buy several of them and use them liberally.
Tape Op Magazine publisher; Owner, Panoramic Studio
I first met Bryce Gonzales through our mutual friend Scott McChane, who was renting an office in my studio building at The Hangar in Sacramento, CA. Scott wanted to have Bryce share the space with him to cut his rent in half. Bryce needed space to fix guitar amps.
I asked Bryce if he ever worked on audio gear and if so, maybe we could take some money off the rent in exchange for him doing some work on our piles of busted gear. Bryce said he'd give it a shot. Well, I probably lost thousands of dollars in rent money over the next few years, but I gained a good friend and all of our gear worked great after that, so I definitely came out ahead in the deal. After Bryce had everything that was broken working, he got bored. He started suggesting that I buy broken down tube-based audio relics on eBay and he would then fix them.
One of the coolest projects to come out of this phase was our RCA tube console. This is the same console that Sam Phillips used at the original Sun Studios. This thing showed up in two crates and clearly hadn't been turned on in at least a decade. I recall that we found old newspapers and rat poop inside it and the wiring looked ready to crumble if we blew on it. I could tell that Bryce was wondering if he was crazy wanting to dig into this beast, but he acted cool and nonchalant about it and read up on the massive and ancient service manual and schematics we tracked down on the internet. He finished up the console the night before we had to take it out on a remote gig recording Devendra Banhart's 'What Will We Be' LP. He later built a second portable 4-channel cut down version of this console from more parts salvaged on eBay, coupled with a more modern and significantly lighter power supply.
Next up, Bryce started building compressors. One of the first was a copy of the UA 175 vari-mu compressor. I hesitate to use the word "copy" here, as Bryce seems to always interpret and riff on the classic designs a bit. When I say "copy," keep in mind it's a linguistic crutch on my part. After the 175 came an RCA BA6A made from some NOS parts a studio client had laying around offered to trade against their bill. Bryce added some extra release times to the original design on this one.
The real 'aha' moment was when Bryce built us a British-modified-style Altec 436 compressor from an old Altec 438. I was in the middle of mixing the track 'Sidepain' on the first Sea of Bees LP and having a hard time getting the vocal to sit right in the track. Bryce brought the compressor into the control room and said, "I think this thing is sounding pretty good!" We put it on the lead vocal and it was one of those all to rare 'presto!' moments, when the mix went from not really working to 'it's done!' We used the compressor on the lead vocal for the rest of the album. He later built a second unit fom scratch with the Sowter trannies from the UK and added a unique feature: The British-style feedback circuit was now an option via a front panel switch.
One of the last compressors Bryce built for us was a clone of the infamous Fairchild 660. We bought a Fairchild Conax 602 de-esser on eBay, as it has the same transformers as the 660 and the cool embossed red lettering. We bought some weird, old Fairchild signal generator because the panel and meter looked cool. Bryce took them both apart and used the 602 for the power supply and the signal generator for the audio signal path. Instead of the all-too-rare 6386 tubes, he used eight tubes for the compression circuit. There's some magic in this unit. For myself and most of the engineers at the studio, this one is a first choice on vocals or whatever else seems mission critical.
Somewhere amidst all this, Bryce started building his own compressors. We still have the first two BG2 comps in use at the studio and all the engineers hold them up as one of the best in the room. I see elements of Bryce's earlier builds in these units. The feedback switch is there and from what Bryce explained to me, the output section has something to do with the RCA circuit.
Now several years later, this circuit has been fine tuned, tested and debugged put onto a high quality circuit baord and is ready for breakfast tables across the United States. So here's to the new era of Highland Dynamics. May they bring perfect mixes to the masses!