NAMM 2020 saw companies showing off all kinds of gear, from new products to gear that’s a few months old. Warm Audio is one such company, and has announced the new Warm Audio Bus-Comp outboard compressor. At NAMM 2020, we were able to take a look at the Bus-Comp for ourselves. Here are our initial thoughts.
The Warm Audio Bus-Comp compressor’s set up quite simple, yet still very sleek. A smaller VU meter sits to the left-hand side that glows blue when in use. When the unit is operating, the VU responds oppositely to one you might find on similar compressors from UA or Teletronix. In that, when actively compressing, the VU needle moves to the right when signal passes the threshold, and not to the left as you might typically find.
To the right of the VU meter are a series of 5 silver knobs. These (left-to-right) operate its threshold, attack, ratio, release, HPF, and make-up gain. The threshold and gain knobs both operate in a fluid motion, while the rest all have fixed settings to choose from. Finally, three sets of buttons that light up yellow when engaged let you know the status of the compressor itself, whether the unit is picking up signal using an external side-chain, and to engage its transformers. Overall, the visual appeal of the Bus-Comp lies in its all black chassis housing, and that light up VU meter. Otherwise, its simplicity gives it a very nice and casual charm.
When we were testing the compressor out, a unit directly below it allowed us to choose from a number of different songs across a wide variety of genres, to see how the compressor effects each one. For our demo, we chose a rock song, a jazz song, and a singer-songwriter song to really put the Warm Audio Bus-Comp to the test. And we found, to our surprise, that the compressor responded very well across all genres. At first, when we had the rock song loaded up, because of the overall lack of dynamics in the track provided, it seemed at first that the compressor was much too harsh. But after switching to monitor using the acoustic guitar track, all prior worries went away. From that point on, we found the Bus-Comp to operate very smoothly, without too much, or too little of any parameter. Even the fixed-value knobs sounded audibly very smooth as we switched between them, as if they were fluid knobs instead.
Of course, it’s hard to truly put a piece of gear to the test on a showroom floor, so we’ll have to wait until we we get our hands on the Bus-Comp in the studio to really put it through the paces. Stay tuned for a full review.
Overall, we would absolutely say the value of the Warm Audio Bus-Comp is worth the dollars spent. With this unit, you can add a very great quality hardware compressor to your studio collection for under $1000. Which is what Warm Audio is all about — great hardware at a fraction of the price. We would definitely recommend picking up a Bus-Comp for yourself if you have the option, or need for it, which you can do straight from Guitar Center.