There is a fog of urban legend and myth surrounding the Alesis 3630. For some producers, there is simply no better path to achieving the iconic “French” house sounds made famous by groups like Daft Punk. For others, the (usually) sub-$100 piece of equipment is exactly what you pay for, a beginner compressor that really can’t keep up.
This review will attempt to separate fact from fiction and draw an objective picture of the capability and quality of the Alesis 3630.
What is the Alesis 3630
The Alesis 3630 is a compressor unit, to put it simply. According to the manufacturer and product descriptions on sites such as Gearslutz, the 3630 is among the “most popular” dynamics processors ever made. From the outset, I would like to make the statement that this claim simply cannot be supported due to the sheer scope of it. The most popular *for who*?
The Alesis 3630, more specifically, is an independent dual-channel compressor with adjustments and controls for two different source signals. Additionally, it does all of that in *one* rack space.
The controls for each channel are decently broad, with adjustments for ratio, threshold, attack and decay alongside a choice between RMS and Peak compression styles. On top of that, there are gates for each channel to help control ambient noise. Finally, there are a few advanced features like signal metering, sidechain capabilities, and stereo linkage.
Alesis will claim that these features each make the 3630 a “best in class” dynamics processing unit. Read on to find how it has actually played out.
– Independent and dual-channel
– A variety of adjustments
– A few advanced features like sidechain and stero linkage
– Fairly priced
– Decently powerful
I have used this device before and to be honest there are impressive aspects and aspects that really leave something to be desired — especially considering the huge amount of hype generated over this device. The 3630 is a *good* piece of hardware for the money. That is all. In my opinion, the instrument and the hardware are only as good as the user. Furthermore, I believe that the 3630 takes a *lot* of work to get sounding like “Daft Punk”. Some users claim it can deliver this type of sound right out of the box. In my experience, it has taken a lot of tuning to get there.
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. But, the hype has been tremendously deceiving and it is time to clear the air.
What you are getting with the 3630 is a piece of intermediate range gear that is just capable enough to be pushed beyond its own boundaries. The 3630 is extremely well-designed and because of the decisions made when producing the product, this intermediate piece of gear can find its way into many higher-end production setups because of how capable it is for the price. Again, though, the capability depends so much on context that for some the purchase may be completely unnecessary.
Where does the 3630 shine?
The 3630 would be a good purchase for anyone looking to use it for *sound creation*. Anyone looking to use this particular compressor to create and modify sounds in their bedroom or studio would be well-served by having the 3630 in their arsenal.
The range of options and settings provide a lot of manipulation capability to the device for a fairly low cost of entry. For this reason, it would be really a nice addition to any setup with some other (better) equipment. The 3630 *will not* take your production and sounds from lack-luster to amazing. What it will do is take a good producer and give them a few more options.
Where does the 3630 fall short?
In short, I would never, ever use a 3630 to control signal in a live setting. I do not find either of the channels very good at accurately controlling dynamics and signal. Nor do I consider either channel to be a very good reproduction of the incoming signal. Something is usually just *off* enough to where I cannot recommend the 3630 as an actual, bog-standard compressor for use in live settings.
Who should get the 3630?
In all honesty, while the 3630 is marketed (when marketed honestly by third-parties) as a good, entry-level compressor I will never be able to recommend it as such. The best I can do is say that people very familiar with sound creation will find the 3630 an interesting piece of kit that may offer them a few more options or an interesting sound that they did not have before.
– Lots of manipulation options for the price
– Price is quite low
– Can provide some very interesting sound options
– Stereo with independent channels
– Not a great compressor
– Dishonest marketing from the manufacturer
– Too much hype to see what is actually going on
– Marketed as a beginner device, but may be very difficult for beginners to get their desired sound and compression levels
– Alesis is known for creating products that are not as good as they should be