The Altec Lansing 438 A is a really nice compressor and is a single channel analog compressor. It has 1/4 inch inputs and outputs in the back and also a 1/4 inch output for a sidechain. It is not rackable, but have seen people putting two of these in a single rack unit.
This compressor is really easy to use, and if you have any experience using a compressor you will be able to figure out how to use this. It has the basic compressor parameters - threshold, ratio, attack, release and gain. It also has a bypass switch, which always comes in handy, and super nice button. The manual for this put together well, but it is easy enough to use that I never really needed it.
The sound quality of this unit is by far its best quality, as the compression signal is clean and adds fullness to your sound. I have used this on everything from lead vocals to guitars to drums. I have found it works great in all types of situations and have used it both for tracking and mixing with good results. This will go beyond effectively compressing your signal, as it has its own sound to it.
The Lansing 438 A has built a reputation for itself as the best deal in pro audio because of the high sound quality and because it is about as cheap as you can get when buying a compressor of ANY quality! It is easy to get a good tone from this and the gain reduction metering is convenient and helpful. I love this compressor because of its high sound quality and because I can afford it! To me, this definitely holds up as not only being one of the best deals for a compressor but as being one of the best deals in all of pro audio!
The Altec Lansing 438 A is a single channel compressor that is incredibly simple in terms of characteristics. I'm not exactly sure what types of connections this has as the one that I have used was pre racked in a studio and I didn't have anything to do with setting up it. The 438 A is an all analog unit that is rack mountable and will take up two rack spaces.
The make up of the Altec Lansing 438 A is as simple as any sort of outboard gear can be. Even if you don't have any experience using any sort of compressor, being that this only has a single knob for volume level, I think that anyone should be able to figure out how to use this quite easily. Besides the volume knob, all you've got on the front of it is an on/off switch and a space for a fuse. The unit also has a meter to monitor the amount of compression. A manual is definitely not needed as this is incredibly easy to follow.
While Altec is more well known for their studio monitors, they did a great job here with the 438 A. While not versatile since it only has one knob, the sound that you can get is warm and rich sounding overall. It is a suitable compressor for just about any type of application, but I've only used it for vocals and for guitars and I find that it works great in these situations and will probably work great beyond this. The Altec Lansing 438 A definitely has a certain tone quality to it that is unique, but I wouldn't say that it colors the sound beyond what an analog compressor will normally offer. Overall, this is a very good sounding compressor.
I've been using the Altec Lansing 438 A for about a year and a half and it is definitely a compressor that I would recommend. While I don't think that you can really seek one out because they are quite rare and hard to find, if you do get a chance to use one I would definitely recommend trying it out. While I do wish that there were more parameters to play with so I could get some varying tones, it is also nice that it is so easy to use and that you can dial in a tone within a minute or so. I would recommend this to someone looking for a single compressor to add to their home studio, but if you have a professional studio and are looking to expand this is definitely a compressor looking into.