Review: Chandler Little Devil Compressor

You can hear sound clips of this and other reviewed pieces of gear here: https://jordantishler.wordpress.com/gear-review-clips/

Walking through the labyrinth of audio equipment at the AES Convention in 2011 October I heard a drum kit so good it stopped me in my tracks. The sound was coming from the Chandler Ltd. booth, or more specifically from the Chandler Little Devil compressors and a TG-1.

JT and gang at AES 2011

JT and gang at AES 2011

When I had the opportunity to test the Little Devil at Digital Bear Entertainment I immediately fell in love with the Chandler sound all over again. With a solid chassis, rotary detented knobs, and a backlit VU meter, it delivers an aggressive grip, with more of a squeezing character than an API 225L but cleaner and smoother than gruff nature of a Summit Audio MPC-100A. The attack and release are extremely musical, and both knee settings (Germanium and Zener) are very usable and are, frankly, hard to make sound bad.  Independent input and output controls determine how hard the signal hits the compression circuit as well as how much make-up gain you achieve, and a built-in side chain knob changes how the compression reacts to high and low frequency; much the way the ‘thrust’ control works on an API 2500.  Last, the Little Devil compressor has a Mix knob that lets you blend the compressed signal with the unaffected sound, allowing you to balance the effect between natural and incredibly squashed.

The Little Devil is an extremely versatile compressor, and beautifully compliments musical elements striving for aggression.  On the other hand, the Chandlers were less than gentle when compressing vocal tracks, creating a sound that could be suitable for a rock vocal but probably not appropriate for pop or other styles. What was most impressive upon extensive testing of the drum kit was the Little Devil’s performance on a kick drum: it brought a definite punch without sacrificing tone or bottom, creating an undeniably impressive sound.

The Little Devil is very well built and has been constructed consistently over the years: one of the units Digital Bear Entertainment purchased was several years old while the other was brand new, but when used with the same settings, they performed identically. Overall a very usable and musical piece of equipment I look forward to continuing to work with and would recommend highly as a complement to any audio studio’s equipment.

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