Daking FET3 Compressor Limiter Description
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The Daking FET3 is new dual channel limiter from Geoff Daking, built in the
US with the same audio path and detector circuits as our highly successful single channel Daking FET II limiter. The FET3 compressor circuitry and gain stages are all discrete and fully Class "A" with sound quality that will be at the very top of the scale. Our previous single channel FET II was known for its speed, high performance and its unique ability to sound great on an extraordinary variety of sources. The FET3 will equal this benchmark plus add several unique features to improve user control.
The differences are as follows:
New variable High Pass Filters from 0 to 200Hz are added to the detector stage of each limiter channel to improve and customize limiter behavior. The HPF's tell the limiter NOT to trigger limiting based on content below the set HPF frequency. This is extremely helpful on bass heavy material. This greatly widens the units potential application set and the ability of the user to set this new behavior "on the fly".
Variable linking between channels is envisioned for use when compressing two different tracks, such as bass and kick, to tie limiter action together to greater or lesser degrees. The Stereo Link is continuously variable from 0 to ∞.
All controls except "Ratio" are pots. The new variable pots add the ability to fine tune behaviors in the studio. Mastering engineers may prefer the repeatability of switches, such as those on the FET II, which will continue in the Daking product line.
The FET II's relied on control voltage summing for the stereo linking. Because the FET3 is two independent units in one box, it uses audio summing, which is much more accurate.
The Daking FET3 uses THAT CORP differential amps in and out (electronically balanced). The FET II has transformers in and out but they are 1:1 input to output so they do not "color" the sound. (A mic input transformer at
ratio in a mic pre would color the sound significantly.) The common mode rejection in FET3 is equal to that of FET II. The FET3 output level is +24 while the FET II can be as high as +30.
The FET3 and FET II both use an outboard power supply. The FET3 2 RU case provides a small pocket in the back panel to store this external power supply.
The unit is fully RoHs compliant.
Daking FET 3 Compressor Review /
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Utilizing the same compression circuit as the FET II, the FET 3 is a transformerless dual mono / stereo linkable unit that lives in a 2U chassis with oversized VU meters. Aside from the ratio every single parameter is now a variable pot vs the switches on the FET II mono units. The FET 3 also has a variable high pass filter on the sidechain, allowing you to keep bass energy from pumping your mix too much. The new variable linking is unique as well, you can go dual mono or stereo linked…or anywhere in between for some fantastic combinations of control. Also, internal linking is just plain tighter too.
The AUTO release on the FET 3 is the same as the “Compex” setting on the FET II, the FET II does have multiple auto release settings but they are very long and would maybe be attractive in a broadcast setting but not missed in most recording situations. As far as differences in “tone” I have found the FET 3 to have a sound so similar to the FET II that it’s almost not worth discussing, but there are small differences in sound. The FET 3 to my ears sounds slightly more detailed and true to the source, whereas the FET II is bringing a slight smoothing to the sound and has a bit of a thump that is likely coming from the Jensen transformers.
So the FET 3 is capable of the same lightning quick control of the FET II and other FET style compressors, just more tweakable. It will flat out control dynamics in a very predictable way without crazy overshoot etc. It really does remain clean-ish and more out of the way, while bringing that classic Daking tone to the table which is slightly enhancing. You can lightly compress a 2 buss mix or slam the crap out of a drum buss with nice crunch and pump available. It can definitely be pushed for character, a very recognizable sound too.
The special features to note are the variable high pass, which is very helpful for final mix and mastering duties so that bass frequencies don’t pump the mix too much. Also, the variable linking is super cool. You can either get creative by semi-linking two mono sources together, but where I had the most fun was semi-linking a stereo mix on the 2 buss. Linked compressors are typically very tight in image, dual mono is quite loose, but finding that half way point = awesomeness times something really awesome. It’s a very useful feature indeed.
Conclusion: Why buy a mono FET style compressor with limited options when you can have a stereo unit capable of so much more? Serious control that can gently sculpt or get a strangle hold on your dynamic range. Another Daking winner!