Multiband compressing can be a great tool at the mastering stage if an equalizer can’t successfully tame sibilant vocals or brittle cymbals, I’ll often teach for one. The original Class A design employed a diode bridge and multiple transformers, and provides a tasty edge when driven—the inherent nonlinearity and relatively high distortion of the diode-bridge attenuators, coupled with the warmth from the Transformers’ iron, gives these designs their own particular analog character, a “creamy”, “buttery” sound that can nicely enhance many different instruments and sources, including use on the mix bus. It even has an external side-chain option, which is somewhat rare for a mastering compressor. This versatility has made the Distressor a modern classic, for those in the know, and if you had to choose just one compressor to handle all dynamics requirements, this one might just do the trick. Of course, in the right hands, a little pumping can make for a great effect, and it’s probably why the 160 still remains so popular, long after it went out of production. The resulting sound retains the natural qualities of the dry signal while providing the boost in volume and subtle liveliness of DynOne’s compression. PSP MasterComp is mostly transparent as long as it’s not pushed too hard, which is honestly what I’m looking for in a compressor most of the time. Ensure that you can see the “global” controls panel, and make sure that “parallel” is checked. This is actually a very old design, and it’s responsible for much of the Fairchild’s specific character. I love the VSC-2 Quad Discrete Compressor from Vertigo Sound for when I am looking for the functionality of an SSL buss compressor, but with a different sonic flavor. UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. This will allow you to blend in the compressed signal to taste alongside the original. From there, experiment with ratio, attack and release time, etc. Back in the day, the stereo version (670) was popular for mastering—it even features an option for M/S (mid-side) operation, which was used for controlling the vertical/lateral aspects of the groove when mastering for vinyl. Fig 4 A dbx 160, and the later Over-Easy™(soft-knee) model, the 165. If set properly, the result is a natural-sounding, smooth compression that responds appropriately over time to a piece of music that evolves from being more transient-heavy to having more sustained sounds. This list includes vintage models and some units that are out of production. One of the most common errors of novice engineers is over-compression which can results in pumping and weak low-frequency reproduction. They—and a host of other companies—also make virtual emulations of the unit (actually, all the compressors in this list are also modeled in software), but here I’ll just focus on the real (physical) thing. dbx’s David Blackmer is generally acknowledged as the “father” of modern VCA-based compressor designs (yes, that’s the same type of circuit found in analog synths, here applied to gain control in compression). Take a look at the racks in almost any medium-to-large studio, and you’ll see the LA-2A well-represented. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More. Unique feature: The Auto-Gain Compensation feature allows you to really hear if the compression that you’re applying is enhancing your source material, or simply making it louder. It does a fine job of adding intensity without unwanted pumping. As a hardware piece this is a rare bird—working vintage units, if you can find one, have been known to go for tens of thousands. If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge and learning effective techniques for getting great sounding masters 100% in the box, check out my debut course: Mastering in the Box, As I cover in-depth in my new online course (Mastering In The Box), compression is a great tool for any mastering engineer. The metering is also great and includes more detail than most other mastering compressors. Originally introduced in 1996, the Distressor sought to ameliorate the cold, clean character of modern analog and digital technologies by, in effect, modeling (via analog circuitry) the warm characteristics of older, classic compression gear. By Ronan Macdonald (Computer Music, Future Music, emusician) 27 May 2020. Don’t let the complicated look fool you; once you get a feel for the Shadow Hills, it’s extremely easy to dial in a great sound. Unique feature: As mentioned, The Glue has a wet/dry blend, so if I want to really push it and go for more than 3dB of gain reduction — add some subtle pumping — this allows me to dial back the entire mix for a more transparent sound while still boosting perceived loudness. A later model dbx design, the 165, took the basic 160 circuitry and added their version of this, which they termed “Over-Easy” response, and it’s this sound that many people associate with dbx compressors, more than the hard, pumping character of the 160. This multiband compressor allows you to boost perceived loudness without compromising the source material to a degree that few, if any, other plugins do. Mastering Tip: Utilize parallel multi-band compression. Shares (Image credit: Future) Fulfilling a multitude of utilitarian, corrective and creative mix engineering roles, the compressor plugin is one of the most fundamental … Mastering with iZotope Ozone 5: Compression (Part 5). The warmth, width and clarity of the Fairchild make it something that I reach for every so often. But despite the age of many of the designs, these 7 compressors have all earned their inclusion in any best-of list, and any of them would serve well in today’s modern studios and production rooms. It can help shape the tone, control dynamics, and boost the perceived (and actual) loudness of your source material. Fig 2 A couple of vintage 1176s, plus (another) UA reissue. In the event you do want to experiment with more extreme settings, the mix knob is handy for achieving a happy balance between the unprocessed, and smashed signals. Of course, there are many other deserving compressors that I could have included, if I wasn’t going to stop at 7—the API 2500, TG1 12345 Limiter (Chandler TG-1), and even the excellent budget-minded RNC. It doesn’t have as many features or intricate controls, but that doesn’t matter because this compressor makes your material sound better simply with the warm, rich tone it imparts onto the signal. DynOne allows users to set a “range” rather than a static setting for how it reacts to the material. Where that unit is slow, smooth, and gentle, the 1176 is fast, edgy and aggressive. Upon putting it through its paces on a wide variety of styles of music, Bob was right. 1. The VSC-2 has a decidedly vintage flavor to it and is great for adding coloration and ‘glue’ to your two-buss and/or masters. Similarly, if the kick drum/bass guitar relationship is problematic, I’ll employ one if an EQ isn’t working. I’m very familiar with the hardware original and this is an excellent and faithful emulation. Essentially, what happens is the filter assures that less low-end frequencies are fed to the compressor, and will prevent excessive ‘pumping’ and other negative artifacts.
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