Modern 1176 plugins model the original 1176 analog compressor from Universal Audio which was first released in 1967. Most of the controls are straightforward (save for the instances of dials which work in reverse which I covered in my tutorial on how to use an 1176 compressor).
The one thing which might not be clear is the engaging the 1176 all buttons in as your ratio, represented by an “All” button on modern plugins.
What does engaging all buttons at once do on an 1176? Let’s explain the effect of having your 1176 all buttons in engaged.
1176 All Buttons In
Whether you’re pressing the “All” button on a plugin or manually depressing all 4 ratio buttons at once, the result is the same.
FET style compressors like the 1176 use a small amount of voltage at the gate which is referred to as its bias to reduce distortion.
Engaging the 1176 all buttons in setting changes that bias point, opening the door for more distortion in the signal.
This also transforms the attack and release times into abrupt cliffs, adding an aggressive saturation like overdrive to your audio.
Transient punch is maintained before that compression hits hard with a ratio which works somewhere between the 12:1 and 20:1 marks in terms of gain reduction.
The result is a very controlled and satisfying tone with a bit of color, depending on the signal you’re processing.
This effect is more pronounced on more low frequency favoring audio, so you’ll likely notice it more on your kick, bass, or even guitars.
Engaging all the 1176 buttons on the hardware unit or using the “All” setting on a plugin (incidentally newer versions of the analog 1176 compressor have an “All” setting, as well) is popularly used on drum overheads to create an explosive sound via that distortion.
It’s useful to experiment with this setting on a variety of tracks to hear how it colors your audio.
You may find your new favorite trick!