RS124 Compressor #GearThatMadeUs

RS124 Compressor #GearThatMadeUs

31st March 2022

This tube compressor is a key component of the Abbey Road sound. Specially modified by Abbey Road engineers, it was used on recordings by The Shadows, The Zombies and of course, The Beatles.

As the story goes an Altec 436B compressor was brought in from America to be used as an automatic volume-control device. Finding it not quite up to their high standards, EMI technical engineers Bill Livy, Len Page and Mike Batchelor redesigned it in 1959, and the RS124 was born.


Naturally, no RS124 unit sounded the same. Each had different sonic qualities and attack/release times, due to constant tinkering of the components used. As a result, some units were more suited for tracking, others for bus compression and disc cutting/mastering duties. It is thought only 25 were made, and only a small number survive today.

Favoured by Geoff Emerick for punchy bass sounds, by Ken Scott for lush guitar treatment and by Norman Smith for lightly gluing the entire rhythm bus. Abbey Road engineers would typically push the input of the RS124 deep into 15-20 dB of gain reduction, producing wonderfully lush results on numerous sources.


After years of storage, they were revived and brought back into daily use. Modern engineers and producers rediscovered its special sonic qualities and declared the 1959 design to be as good as (or better than) any modern equipment.

#GearThatMadeUs #AbbeyRoad90 #RS124

Once back in use at the studios the RS124 became so popular that Abbey Road soon recreated it in collaboration with Chandler Limited, and as software in collaboration with Waves Audio.

The Chandler Limited RS124 Compressor harnesses the sound and personalities of Abbey Road Studios’ favorite historic RS124 Compressors (Ser. No’s 60070B, 60050A, and 61010B) still in use to this day, all in a single unit.

Along with features traditionally found on the original counterparts, Input control, Output attenuation, ‘Recovery’ (release) control and the unique ‘HOLD’ setting, the Chandler Limited RS124 Compressor includes modern facilities such as adjustable attack, selectable output impedance, and a special twist, dubbed the ‘SuperFuse’.

The Waves Abbey Road plugin features two distinct RS124 flavours, modelled from the original hardware:

• Studio models RS124 serial no. 60070B – a favourite unit used for tracking at Abbey Road from the late '50s into the '60s, due to its faster attack and release times. This is the more aggressive sound of the RS124, which creates a beautiful “squashed” sound on transients.

• Cutter is a modification with slower attack and release times. The slower RS124s were favored for studio reduction mixes and in Abbey Road’s cutting rooms during the '60s. The more relaxed attack made these units suitable and more forgiving for bus compression and mastering purposes.

The RS124 is a feedback compressor with a variable recovery. Want it to become more aggressive? The included “Super Fuse” mode matches release time to attack time, creating a brutal compression character that sounds like it’s “fighting against itself.” Try this on your drum bus for complete room destruction.

Waves Abbey Road RS124 features:

• Precise modelling of Abbey Road’s ultra-rare RS124 tube compressor.
• Silky-smooth tones for vocals, bass, drums, bus compression & mastering.
• Heard on every Beatles' recording made at Abbey Road.
• The go-to creamy compression tone for classic recordings: From Paul McCartney’s bass to Beyoncé’s vocals.
• Two distinctive RS124 tube flavors included: Studio and Cutter
• Super-Fuse mode added for more aggressive results.
• Sidechain, Mix knob and MS options included.

The Abbey Road RS124 Compressor is included in the Waves Abbey Road Collection bundle.

Click here for more information.


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