Altec 438C compressor amplifier

The Altec 436 and 438 series are vari-μ tube compressor-amplifiers that were famously used at Abbey Road in the 1960s, when the Beatles were there. The 438C is the best of these models, in that it has a built in mic preamp, and also control of the threshold and release, which make the compressor a lot more usable.

I have been looking for one of these for some years now, to the extent that I even built one from scratch – but of course without the gorgeous meter. I finally took the plunge and bought this one on US ebay, for (what I considered to be) a fair price.

Altec 438C compressor

Having paid the ransom to release it from customs, I picked it up from Parcel Force today. Happily, it looks to be in good original condition, and it should not be too much of a challenge to get it up and running again.
There is plenty of vintage dust inside…

Inside the Altec 438C compressor

A few things will need to be done. These were built for the US market, and the transformer will need to be swapped to a 240V model. It would also be prudent to swap out the electrolytic capacitors. All the original transformers are present, which is a relief as these are difficult / expensive to find.

The ‘clone’ has been in regular use for years, and it will be interesting to see how the original compares!

Home made 438B compressor

Some Altec compressor related links…