The set up of the compressor is pretty standard and is easy to set up if you have any experience with setting up outboard gear. Its also got standard compressor controls like the compression ratio, input, output, attack and decay. If you know how to use a compressor this is as easy as they come to use. I never had a use for the manual so I can't say if its helpful or not, but if you have any experience at all with compressors you'll be able to figure out how to use the 1176 without a manual.
The 1176 is one of my go to compressors for drums and guitars. I love the way it adds a little crunch to it when set right. It also sounds great on electric keys and vocals, although it wouldn't be my first choice for vocals.
I first used an 1176 LN 3 years ago. I love how easy it is to get a great sound out of this. I use many other compressors fairly regularly and this one holds its own. It has a reputation for being a sturdy machine that is easy to use and that produces a clean signal. In terms of price it is probably a bit pricey for the home studio budget but it would be hard to find a professional studio lacking at least one of these. All in all I love using the 1176 and I will probably continue using it as long as I am makig recordings.