It’s nigh-on five years since AT reviewed the original Fatman. The ‘classic’ Fatman has won plenty of friends, chiefly due to its sound and easy-to-use preset compression settings (I’d hope the plumber’s-smile marketing campaign wasn’t entirely responsible for its success!). It was, and is, a versatile stereo compressor and instrument preamp – but that was its entire bag of tricks. Since then the Fat 2 appeared – a very similar unit but this time mono and included a mic preamp.
TL Audio has recently reinvigorated the Fatman moniker with two new Fat designs: the 2Fat and the Fat Funker. Up for perusal here is the 2Fat. The most noticeable departure for the new fat fellows is the more sensible 2U rack sizing. The previous 3U-high half rack wasn’t the easiest device to rack up. In fact, it looks as though much of the design and circuitry has been lifted from TLA’s more up-market Ivory 2 range. The giveaway here is the 2Fat and Fat Funker’s ability to accept the same series’ digital output card – a huge advantage over the original sawn-off design.
Operation of the 2Fat is remarkably simple and logically laid out. The front panel houses an instrument input, while the mic, line input and TRS output reside around the back. The power supply is a far superior toroidal design and shielded quite heavily from the primary circuit board – unlike the original, which used a transformer-based PSU mounted directly on the circuit board. The 2Fat provides the same 15 presets as its corpulent ancestor along with the same manual compression controls – threshold, ratio and gain make-up, along with buttons for fast or slow attack and release times (hard- or soft-knee characteristics are also switchable). One additional feature of the 2Fat that differs from the Fat 2 is the ‘Fat EQ’ button. That adds a rather fat (but far from obese) +4dB @ 90Hz, –2dB @ 800Hz and +2.5dB at 10kHz EQ curve. I liked the smiley curve, especially on bass guitar. The real test, though, was putting the 2Fat up against the original Fat 2. This sumo confrontation proved quite illuminating, with the second Fat incarnation miles ahead of the original. The sound is far cleaner, more detailed and, well… simply fatter. So much so that the chap who leant me his original Fat 2 was terribly keen to divest himself of it and put in an order for the 2Fat. – Brad Watts
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