Although different in look and is a stereo unit, the Urei 1178 has the same parameters as the famous 1176. Each of the channels has leveling knobs for input and output, and then there are attack and release knobs that control both of the channels simultaneously, and this is also the case with the ratio buttons. Like the 1176, you've got ratios of 4, 8, 12, and 20. Both channels have their own VU meters, with a variety of options to control what you are actually metering. I've never seen the manual for this unit, but never felt I needed one anyway.
The sound quality of the Urei 1178 is very similar to the 1176, and although I haven't compared them side to side I would bet that they would be very familiar to each other. This of course is a good thing as this is a great sounding piece of gear that is suitable of compression just about anything that you would want to consider using compression on including guitars, drums, and vocals. Since it is a stereo unit I often try to pair it up in instances that I might want to compress a stereo signal like drum overheads or an electric piano. This being said, I would bet that a hundred different engineers could find a hundred different uses for the 1178.
All in all, the Urei 1178 is a great sounding piece of gear that I can't say a bad thing about. If you've used this or the 1176, you know what I'm talking about. These models have great reputations for a reason and this one has definitely lived up to it in my opinion. Since they no longer make these, they aren't all that easy to find but if you've got your heart set on one I would think that you'd be able to find one to buy at the price that you would expect a high end piece of gear like this to be at. The 1178 is definitely a piece of gear worth looking into if you are unfamiliar with it...