Alta Moda's Hippo is a VCA based 500 series stereo compressor with some additional touches. I first heard about this unit a few years ago but never had the opportunity to use it.
"The Alta Moda Audio Hippo is a high-performance bus compressor designed for the 500-series compatible rack systems. The Hippo is based on a VCA topology made popular in highly successful recording consoles of the 1980's, but includes many modern features not found on typical bus compressors."
Here are excerpts from an article by Russ Long in Pro Audio Review Magazine:
"The Alta Moda HIPPO is a fantastic two-mix compressor that works well on virtually any audio source."
"After several months of use I came to the conclusion that there isn't anything this wonder module doesn't sound good on. The box performs flawlessly on bus compression duties. I think this is its true strength.
When tracking drums.... it performed well in every instance. It performed brilliantly on piano and acoustic guitar...... I found the Soft Link mode indispensable.... It also does a stellar job with bass and lead vocals...."
- The Hippo features extended attack, release and ratio settings for wider control ranges. Selected controls are continuously-variable for enhanced resolution and versatility.
- Six-position High Pass Filter on side chain for better control of bass-heavy material.
- Six-position Warmth control adds rich harmonic distortion to fatten tracks.
- Unique channel linking options allow for better control of stereo imaging, including the ability to run the channel detectors independently of one another (Dual mode).
- Dual, 20-segment gain-reduction meters monitor both detectors with 1dB resolution.
- Blend control allows varying the output between dry and compressed signal for more subtle compression effects.
- Gold-contact relays completely remove unit from signal path when bypassed.
Price $1250 at Little Fish Audio