The 6386 and ES-8 are modern two channel limiters designed to have the compression characteristics of a vintage unit, but with a higher level of sonic accuracy. Rather than trying to recreate the past, we've taken an entirely different approach. The 6386 uses the gain control tube (remote cutoff triode) found in the vintage Fairchild limiters to provide the classic feedback response unique to the characteristics of this class of tubes. The ES-8 uses a different remote-cutoff triode with the same dynamic characteristics. Subsequent amplification is accomplished with a Class A, balanced transformerless line amp, rather than the push-pull transformer output stage used on vintage variable-mu units. The result is a new class of limiters that possess the 'dynamic signature' of a classic tube compressor, but with a more accurate, less colored signal path. The two units are identical, except for the tube used for gain reduction.
The soft-knee design used in the 6386 and ES-8 offer effortless dynamic control with a smooth transition from compression to limiting. In addition, both channels can be operated independently, or linked with the flip of a switch. When linked, the threshold and attack/release parameters are controlled entirely by channel 1, assuring precise stereo balance over the entire range of gain reduction.
For maximum versatility, the 6386 and ES-8 incorporate a solid-state sidechain to provide a wide range of control with three modes of processing: In the FAST mode, the limiter works extremely fast (less than 0.5ms attack time), and is remarkably free of the 'pumping' artifacts normally encountered with slow variable-mu compressors. It's the ideal choice for invisible dynamics processing, either for tracking or tight program compression.
The PRESET mode consists of six classic attack/release time settings (identical to the Fairchild 670) that are optimized for program compression, including two settings with program-dependent release times.
The MANUAL mode offers total control over the attack and release times, which is particularly useful for creative compression effects or for processing bass guitar.
Most important, the hard bypass switches on the front panel conveniently allow a quick determination of exactly what the 6386 or ES-8 is, or in most cases, isn't doing to your signal.