Vintage Digital & Analogue Studio Effects

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Alesis 3630

Alesis 3630 Compressor

Since its introduction, the Alesis 3630 Compressor has become the most popular dynamics processor ever made. Despite what the official Alesis marketing department say about the Alesis 3630 Compressor below, it is not the holy grail of compressors, regardless of the fact it has become something of a cult classic among many musicians.


Price played a major part in the success of the Alesis 3630, as it did with most of Alesis’s products. For the money paid, it offered a lot of features but it also had a lot of distortion, can make the sound dull and lifeless, and generally just sounds gnarly. For the pros, this was unacceptable, but for many home musicians and even larger artists such as Daft Punk, the pumping sidechain effect has become ‘a sound’ of it’s own that is sort after, so who are we to judge?

The reason is easy to understand: it provides two independent full-featured compressor/ limiters in one rack space while offering excellent sonic quality for any application from studio recording to live sound or broadcast.

The Alesis 3630 offers Ratio, Threshold, Attack and Decay controls to customize its compression response for even the toughest signals. You can also choose between RMS and Peak compression styles, plus Hard and Soft Knee dynamic curves for every application from subtle gain control to in-your-face punch. As an independent dual-channel compressor, the Alesis 3630 offers separate controls for two different source signals.

Plus, two fully independent gates with threshold and rate controls allow you to easily and efficiently stifle unwanted ambient noise. Other advanced dynamics processing features such as precise signal metering, a sidechain for keying or ducking effects and stereo linkable operation make the Alesis 3630 the most powerful compressor in its class.

The Alesis 3630 Dual Channel Compressor/ Limiter with Gate, is a cost-effective gain control device that complements any studio with several important features.

  • Stereo or dual mono operation. The 3630 can serve as two totally independent units, or both sections can be strapped together for stereo operation. In stereo, gain changes in one section are “tracked” by the other section to eliminate wandering of the stereo image.
  • Peak or RMS response. Determines whether the limiter will base its operation on signal peaks or average signal levels. Each has its uses with different types of signals (for example, peak with drums, and average with complex program material).
  • “Hard knee” or “soft knee” response. Each type of response gives a different limiting action. The hard knee response is generally considered more “severe,” and the soft knee response, more “musical.”
  • Individual bypass switches for each channel. This makes it easy to compare the processed and unprocessed sounds.
    • Side chain connections. Insert EQs and other devices for applications such as de-essing (removing sibilance), adding treble to limited signals, “keying” one signal with another, “ducking” (e.g., making a signal such as background music become lower in volume in response to another signal, such as narration), and other applications.
  • +4 dBu or -10dBV operation. This provides signal level compatibility with nearly all studio setups.
  • Front panel knob calibrations. Knobs are calibrated to allow for easy setup and operation.
  • Built-in stereo/dual mono noise gate. This can reduce noise when compressing or limiting. Each section can also operate as a stand-alone noise gate.
  • Extensive metering. Each channel has a 12-LED display to indicate the amount of gain reduction, a second 12-LED display to show input/ output levels, and a dual-LED display to indicate noise gate status.


Typical applications for the Alesis 3630

  • Even out a vocalist’s dynamics to compensate for poor mic or vocal technique.
  • Increase a guitar’s (or other stringed instrument’s) sustain.
  • Smooth out bass sounds for a more consistent level.
  • Prevent peaks common in many source signals, such as drums, from overloading tape during recording.
  • Minimize the chance of speaker burnout by inserting a limiter prior to the power amp.
  • Decrease a signal’s dynamic range to accommodate a recording medium with a more limited dynamic range (e.g., process a master tape mixed for CD duplication when making cassette copies to accommodate the cassette’s limited dynamic range).
  • In PA applications, limiting can increase a vocalist’s level before feedback occurs.
  • Reduce sharp signal peaks associated with some signal processors and highly resonant synthesizer patches.
  • Remove hiss from tape, guitar amps, etc. with the noise gates.
  • Use the noise gate to “key” one instrument’s rhythm to another instrument.
  • Use the sidechain to remove excessive sibilance from vocals and narration (commonly known as “de-essing”).
  • Use the sidechain for lowering background music or other program material in the presence of narration (commonly known as ducking).



Frequency Response: 10Hz – 30kHz
Dynamic Range: >118 dB
THD: 0.05%
Crosstalk: < -85dB @ 10kHz
Compression Threshold Range: -40 dBu to +20 dBu
Compression Ratio: 1:1 to ∞:1, selectable hard or soft compression knee
Peak Attack Time
: 0.1 ms to 200 ms
Peak Mode Release Time: 50 ms to 3 seconds RMS Average Mode Attack and
Release Times: Program dependent
Gate Threshold Range: Continuously open (no gating) to -10 dBu
Gate Rate Time: 20 ms to 2 seconds

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Alesis 3630

Alesis 3630 Compressor Reviews

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(1 Review)

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What other owners say...

Don't forget to toggle the peak / rms button!

By Baia do Tonhao Estudio

Build Quality 90%
Sound Quality 90%
Usefullness 80%
Mojo/Funk 80%
Reliability 85%

Used wisely, I’d say it’s even possible to finish a track on it, like a mix bus. In general, its use in Mid / Side on the battery bus and sending a kick signal sidechain to make room in a dense bass generally gives a very satisfactory result. In voices, guitars and P.A systems there are dozens of other possibilities that will bring a faster and better result. It is worthwhile if the intention is to buy a first VCA compressor for those who want to start in the analog world by spending no more than what a new shirt costs.

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