Although hardware is possibly on the way out (not that I think or hope it will ever disappear or not have its place in the music production world), recently a piece of gear is getting a long awaited update which I think will interest all music makers, even 100% software guys. When I heard there was a new version of the Alesis 3630, the 3632, it got me very interested. The original Alesis 3630 is claimed to be ‘the number one selling hardware compressor of all time’ and it’s going around that Daft Punk have stated ‘that the sound of their Homework and Discovery albums was all down to the unique pumping charm’ of this compressor. How can you not be interested in this!
The Alesis 3632 compressor is the new version of the classic 3630, a compressor which is best known for its association with the French House scene of the late ’90s and early 2000’s. I picked up a 3630 about 6 months ago for $110 (it did arrive broken which was unfortunate). I got one because, for that price, I wanted a piece of house music history in my house. You just can’t get something so ‘classic’ and legendary for this kind of money. So what is it? It’s a hardware compressor/gate, and thats really about it. All the classic controls, knobs etc etc. It’s stereo and rack mountable. No bells and whistles
So why would you want one? It has never been known to excel on anything in particular, but I am assuming Daft Punk would put it on their master channel and run the level of the kick quite hot into it to achieve a ‘pumping’ effect (but I am not sure). Also the old 3630 was known to colour the sound a fair bit. Alesis say they have improved on this in the new 3632. But it is said that it does a decent job on everything. So why would you go to the trouble of hardware for your compression needs with a piece of gear that’s ‘ok’ on everything? Well it’s about $150 and really that is a whole lot of nothing. It could also push you to really try to understand compression to see what kind of results are possible. You also might have a live band that needs compressors in their rig. This would be a cheap, effective solution. The fact that that 3632 doesn’t colour the sound as much as the old 3630 would maybe make it a better choice for this purpose
When it comes down to it though, I would go the OG 3630 compressor as a posed to this new version version, the 3632. I am sure they will still be floating around somewhere. I will most likely get one in the future for the reason I have mentioned before, try and further my compression skills and to own a classic piece of gear. I want to own something that Daft Punk used and I want to see if I can get the same result. But what about reason’s to get this new version, the 3632? Well I don’t have many except if you can’t get the 3630 or you need to have a hardware compressor, maybe in a live setup, that is cheap and can be used for pretty much anything. The 3632 is meant to have the same characteristics as the 3630, but I want the bad sound of the 3630. It is what we are used to hearing on many old French records and could be the beauty of this cheap piece of gear.
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