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Joemeek SC2.2 Stereo Compressor
by Russ Long

The Joemeek product line never ceases to turn heads and the SC2.2 is certainly no exception. The Joemeek SC2 was one of the first products to thrust Ted Fletcher's circuit design into the spotlight and the industry devoured the boxes as quick as Joemeek could manufacture them. The only complaint was that at nearly $2,000 the SC2 was beyond the reach of many project and smaller commercial studios. Joemeek's answer is the SC2.2, a lower-priced version of the SC2 that lists for only $799.

The Joemeek SC2.2 uses a photoelectric gain-control element with modern servo-control techniques to maintain accuracy and speed of response to the light source. Its impressive specifications boast distortion within 0.004% 100 Hz to 10 kHz at all levels and system noise generally better than 94 dBu from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The box is flat from 5 Hz to 30 kHz with minimal phase shift at extremes and crosstalk is better than 60 dB at 10 kHz.

The rear panel of the SC2.2 is equipped with a pair of female XLR connectors for audio input and a pair of male XLR connectors for audio output. It is also equipped with a standard IEC connector for 115 VAC. The SC2 was equipped with a switchable transformer, which was useful to producers and engineers who travel to countries with different voltages. Eliminating the switchable transformer is one of the steps Joemeek took to reduce the cost of the SC2.2 compared to the SC2. (ALL CURRENT SC2.2's HAVE SWITCHABLE POWER TRANSFORMER) see note below

The vintage-look front panel has an assortment of knobs, buttons, LEDs and a large VU meter. The input gain knob (which, of course, goes to 11) adjusts the input level. Unity gain is set at 4 (unfortunately this is not labeled on the faceplate) so the input knob allows the attenuation of excessively hot signals. Input impedance is 20-kohm resistive and the maximum input level is +28 dBu.
The Slope knob offers five options (one more than the original SC2). The slope is similar to a ratio control but is nonlinear. Depending on the slope selection and the input gain, compression varies from 2:1 to 10:1.The Compression knob adjusts the drive to the side chain, controlling the amount of compression.The Attack and Release knobs adjust the attack and release times. Attack time varies between 0.5 and 10 milliseconds. Release time varies between 200 milliseconds and about 2.5 seconds.The Output gain knob adjusts the unit's output, which is electronically balanced and floating at a source impedance of 100 ohms.

The Comp/VU switch selects the metering to show either gain reduction or input level. The In/Out switch lets the user bypass the compression circuit. Two LEDs point out the status of the unit. The blue LED indicates compressor operation and the red LED indicates bypass. Also on the front panel is the power switch another improvement over the SC2, whose power switch was located on the rear panel.

In use
I found the SC2.2 to be an easy unit to use in a wide variety of applications. It works equally well as a stereo or mono compressor. I used the SC2.2 to record keyboards, piano, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals and drum overheads.
The SC2.2 is not a compressor that works well in every situation. Some keyboards (like the Wurlitzer) worked well, but many didn't and I was never able to get a piano sound with the SC2.2 that was completely satisfying. The compressor worked well on acoustic guitars and most vocals, although in a few instances I was not able to achieve acceptable sounds on vocals.
The SC2.2 worked best on the electric guitar. With the right attack and release settings, I could squash the guitar without any annoying pumping or obvious distractions. The strength of the SC2.2 is in stereo bus compression. Between its five slope options and its diversity in attack and release times, the machine can be tailored to virtually any track. The results from one setting to the next are so diverse that it is evident the SC2.2 is not the type of machine that can be simply set and left. Rather, it requires a bit of experimentation and careful listening to create the sound required for a particular track.

The Joemeek SC2.2 puts the stereo compression power of the SC2 in the hands of even the most budget-minded project studio. Well-made and easy to use, it provides the unique sound that has made Joe Meek (and TED FLETCHER) famous.

Russ Long, a Nashville-based producer/engineer, owns The White House and The Carport recording studios. He is a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.

ADDITION: Since the review unit, the SC2.2 has had an upgrade. One upgrade feature was the switchable power transformer, and the other was a new feature called "Dark Mode". The dark Mode switch is an added circuit that replicates the sound of the old Joemeek V1.05 by slowing down the speed of the attack and release times creating a darker sound originally offered by the early Joemeek SC2 V1.05
Price: $799
Contact: Joemeek at PMI Audio Group toll free at 877-563-6335

Product Points
Joemeek SC2.2

Affordable, Unique sound, Solid construction

No side chain, No 1/4” input and output only XLR’s Doesn't work in every situation

The Score
The Joemeek SC2.2 is a great sounding stereo compressor that is priced so low it should be in every engineer and producer's rack.

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