Only had a few deep breaths at the start of the new year I took a little time to test some new plugins, revisit some old ones testing against the newcomers. Since virtually every company offering at least 14 days demos anyone can really try if the plugin is up to the hype around it or not.
Of course the testing process goes as usual, going through many genres of music, loading up sessions from small to big, from jazz through pop to film scores. I don’t really like one-trick ponies. I like plugins and hardware that can be used in a variety of ways and able to perform in more than one demanding situation.
The other things is, in this regard I’m quite stubborn. I don’t care about user or even very famous user reviews, blogs or forums, I have to try and it must work for me before I purchase. I recommend the same to everyone. Don’t take anyone word for it, because it might work for one and not the other. Forums and blogs and reviews are good for a compass, but never ever trust them for the final decision.
For the first few days I tested dynamic processors, bus compressors. First I read some blogs and forums to sort get an updated picture of the latest and greatest, then decided myself what to try. Downloaded a few demos from Plugin Alliance, Fabfilter and Waves and started with a moderate session to hear which ones I like in the first round.
Using different genres really helps to eliminate the ones you could only use for one purpose. It is really amazing how easy to reveal any shortcomings with this method.
The new old friend
Fortunately I had the chance to use the original hardware, the API 2500 compressor. When we first met, it was an instant match. I’m sure every engineer has these eureka moments, when you instantly feel like if that piece of gear or software was made for you. This compressor is surely for me. Without any prior experience with it I found many good settings, within seconds I could use it for many things.
This sparked the idea to try it plugin format. I won’t go into any debate whether it’s a dead on emulation or not, the fact is, it is damn close which is enough in my opinion. I think it’s so good that if you can’t get the sound from the plugin, you won’t have the sound with the hardware either.
What is exceptional in my opinion is that it’s not only good for dynamic material, but equally nice on more mellow things, even on symphonic material with the right settings. Can be coloured but also able to subtly massaging the master bus. The famous thrust switches and the option to use it as old (f.back) or new (f.forw) type compressor also adds another dimension to it. The link section even further make this beast useful. Not only the shape, but the L/R link option can be fun to play with and believe me when you hit the right amount, it can be pure sonic magic. Although it only has 3 options when it comes to knee settings, but during usage you can find just the perfect option in seconds.
In hardware format it is still a pricey piece, but I think in plugin format it is not that unreachable thing today. At least I fall in love with it, again, but now in the digital domain.