The Legendary 1176 Compressor | Ultimate Guide

The Birth of the 1176.

The story of the 1176 begins with the Universal Audio company and its founder, Bill Putnam. In 1966, Universal Audio introduced the 1176 Peak Limiter, marking a departure from the prevailing tube-based designs of the time. The 1176 was one of the first commercially available solid-state audio compressors, utilizing FET (field-effect transistor) technology, which provided a faster response time and greater reliability compared to tube-based counterparts.

Innovative Design.

The 1176’s distinctive design played a crucial role in its success. With a simple control layout featuring Input, Output, Attack, Release, Ratio, and a unique “All-Buttons In” mode, the 1176 offered engineers unprecedented control over dynamics. Its transparent and fast-acting compression made it a versatile tool for a wide range of audio sources, from vocals and drums to guitars and beyond.

“All-Buttons In” Mode.

One of the defining features of the 1176 is its famous “All-Buttons In” mode. Engaging this mode involves pressing all ratio buttons simultaneously, resulting in extreme compression and a distinct sonic character. This feature quickly became a favorite among engineers for its ability to add color, saturation, and a unique texture to audio signals.

Enduring Legacy.

The 1176’s impact on the music industry cannot be overstated. Its transparent compression, speed, and versatility made it an indispensable tool in both tracking and mixing. Countless hit records from the late 1960s to the present day bear the sonic imprint of the 1176. As recording technology evolved, Universal Audio released various iterations of the 1176, including different revisions and rack-mount versions, ensuring its relevance in modern studios.

Embraced by Legends.

The 1176’s popularity was solidified by its association with iconic artists and engineers. Legends like Joe Chiccarelli, Chris Lord-Alge, and Andy Wallace have relied on the 1176 to shape the sound of some of the most memorable albums in music history. Its presence in renowned studios worldwide further cements its status as an enduring symbol of excellence in audio engineering.


The Universal Audio 1176 compressor stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of innovative audio technology. From its groundbreaking solid-state design to its timeless sonic imprint, the 1176 has left an indelible mark on the world of music production. As the music industry continues to evolve, the 1176 remains a cherished tool for engineers seeking unparalleled control and a touch of vintage magic in their sonic palette.

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