Thermionic CulturePhoenix SB Stereo Valve Compressor


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Thermionic Culture Phoenix SB

The Phoenix SB, from Thermionic Culture, is a stereo valve compressor that utilizes the same side chain filter controls found in their previous Phoenix SC compressor, albeit with the inclusion of an HT switch. This latest addition allows the Phoenix to operate in a low power standby mode that extends the life of its valves and capacitors. Keep this control on when initially turning the unit on, especially if it has not been used for some time.

Additional upgrades include the addition of meter zero controls to the front panel. Make sure they display a value of 0 when the unit is not in standby mode or compressing anything. Concurrently, the unit’s sidechain filters cut its overall compression response to bass frequencies. It lends its magic to frequencies below 150Hz or 300Hz per channel; also, they operate as the average of the two sides whenever the stereo link parameter is switched on. Essentially, this means that stereo mode features five possible filter frequencies that one could choose from.

Phoenix SB Features

  • All valve signal path and side chain, point to point hand wired in England
  • Subtle control with "soft knee" compression, but more compression effects when pushed hard
  • Continuously variable attack, release and threshold controls
  • Stereo link for mix buss compression
  • Side chain filters to enable compression of all frequencies except bass
  • Flat frequency response over full audio range and beyond
  • Very low phase shift and harmonic distortion (unless pushed hard)
  • Push-pull design gives a natural warm sound with high output level
  • Output trim controls for fine adjustment or lower level operation
  • Balanced ins and outs with custom made Sowter transformers
  • Bypass switch on each channel removes all electronics
  • Standby switch to prolong valve life
  • Distortion effects can be created with Standby on
  • Max. o/p level (MOL): +19dB into 600Ω, +24dB into 10kΩ
  • Max gain: 30dB
  • THD (at no compression): better than 0.06 % @ 100Hz & 1kHz
  • Noise, IEC weighted: better than 100dB below MOL
  • Input impedance: 15kΩ
  • Frequency response: <1dB variation over range of 12Hz to 56kHz
  • Attack time: 0.004s to 0.12s
  • Release time: 0.04s to 2.4s
  • Output impedance: 600Ω

Valve Complement (2 ea)

  • Input/Compression: PCC85 (equiv. 9AQ8)
  • Output: ECC81 (equiv. 12AT7, CV4024)
  • Side chain detector: EB91 (equiv. 6AL5, CV4025)
Thermionic Culture Phoenix SB Stereo Valve Compressor Reviews