UREI 1176 by Matt Wiggins
Ahhhh the Urei 1176 - so often the source of one's upmost pleasure in leveling amplification
activities. You can find one of these babies kicking about any one of the following superb
Miloco studios: The Engine Room, The Square, The Garden and Sofa Sound, although
it was the one at our Kentish Town mix room, Musikbox, that caught the eye of one
Matt Wiggins, studio assistant par-excellence, and the kind of guy (judging by this) that
you want at the end of a phoneline if ever Chris Tarrant were to quiz you on the history
of this classic model...
Attack Time: from less than 20us to 800us (for 100% recovery)
Release Time: 50ms to 1.1s (for 63% recovery)
Ratios (with according threshold in brackets): 4:1 (-30dB); 8:1 (-26dB);
12:1 (-25dB); 20:1 (-24dB)
The first 1176 was produced in 1966 by Bill Putnam and since then it has seen many revisions
up to the model produced today.
Changes to the original preamp circuitry. Featured aluminum faceplate with blue surrounding to
the VU meter.
First blackface model, the 1176LN. Standing for Low Noise.
Featured an improved case, integrating the circuitry with the main PCB.
First to accommodate European 220V mains power with a voltage selector on the rear panel.
An electronically balanced input stage replaced the classic transformer front end.
Marked a return to a silver faceplate.
Bill Putnam died in 1989, but his company Universal Audio lives on marketing re-issues of
classic designs as well as developing software plug-ins emulators of some of his classic
On the left side of the unit are two large input and output controls, followed by the two
smaller attack and release dials. Just to the left of the VU-meter there is the 4 switch ratio
selector, whereas on the right side four more buttons are used to switch between what the meter
displays and also the power off switch.
At first, the controls on the 1176 suggest its features are fairly limiting (!) in comparison
with some modern compressors, but it has a few tricks. The four ratio switches can be used
separately up to a compression ratio of 20:1. Alternatively, different combinations can be
pushed in at once to achieve what has become arguably the defining feature of the 1176, so much
so that this mode has gone on to be emulated in compressors such as Empirical Labs
This classic compressor is very flexible and manages to offer a huge range of flexibility from
one piece of hardware.
Matt Wiggins was talking to MILC in March 2008