People like to collect things. A certain type of person (and I'll let you fill in the person specification) likes to collect compressors. You can't have too many of them they will tell you, each with its own subtle variation of sonic character and nuances of operation. IK Multimedia are feeding that obsession with T-RackS Custom Shop, the mastering and mixing suite of effects that can be used in standalone mode or as plug-ins in your favorite DAW. The '˜Shop' feature in Custom Shop lets you buy processors from an ever expanding list as your budget allows, and the latest addition is the Precision Compressor/Limiter.
Let's go shopping!
Some might say that the Precision Compressor/Limiter is modelled on the classic Neve 33609, a classic transistor-based compressor from the early '70s which used a diode bridge in its gain reduction circuitry and custom-made transformers. Now that all sounds great, exactly the kind of language that will get the collectors going, but if like me you couldn't tell a diode from a triode, what you need to know is that the character of the original is smooth. Some would say warm, which means it is less aggressive than some other compressors in that high frequency artefacts are not accentuated even if you push the thing quite hard. The good news is that T-RackS software version exhibits exactly these characteristics.
Music to my Ears
Another adjective applied to the original is '˜musical'. I have never been quite sure what is meant when people use this term when referring to compressors. For me, musical performance has a large dynamic range, and compressors are designed specifically to reduce the dynamic range. But if by '˜musical' we mean that the audio material continues to demonstrate light and shade and the results are never extreme enough to change the character of the audio significantly, then the Precision Compressor/Limiter is also worthy of this term.
Step it Up
The controls are stepped (just like the Neve) and both stages of the processor are very easy to set up. The limiter section has only two settings for attack and a fixed ratio, with six recovery (release) times, two of which are automatic. The compressor section has a fixed attack and a relatively narrow range of ratios, and again there are six available recovery (release) times, two of which are automatic.
Just in case you want to get going without any setup, ten presets are provided when using the Precision Compressor/Limiter in T-RackS in stand-alone mode, and these are also available when using the processor as a plug-in in your DAW.
SSL-style compressors are already well represented in T-RackS CS, including the British channel (like an SSL 4000 E series channel strip), the White Channel (like an SSL Super Analogue channel strip), and the Bus Compressor (like an SSL 4000 G series), so adding something with the flavor of Neve makes perfect sense. The Precision Compressor/Limiter is a worthy addition to the collection, adding a sonic character not previously represented. It looks like I just managed to talk myself into collecting it!