But Shadow Hills tends to avoid advertising and marketing, relying instead on reputation and word-of-mouth alone – it’s almost like a secret society where if you know, you know – and if you don’t know, you don’t need to know! The Discrete compressor’s tone sounded thinner by comparison, and its fastest (0.1 ms) attack time was also too slow to clamp down on sibilance. SHMC also has a so-called Magic Eye meter, a glowing green ring that, in the original hardware, is actually the end of a vacuum tube. © 2020 MIX is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. SHMC’s first compression stage is an optical compressor. The discrete compressor’s big, chunky output gain control feeds into the final transformer stage of the processor. Raising the toolbar’s sidechain-filter setting to 206 Hz preserved the added bottom-end heft and focused the compressor’s action on moderating peaks in the bright top end, reducing the mix’s glare. But it’s how the processor operates that’s of most interest, and this is what makes the SHMC stand apart from the competition. Slate Digital's new exciter based on the Dolby-A trick is a quick way to add excitement to tracks and mixes. Metering-wise, SHMC has a pair or VU-style meters, each of which can be switched to show the channel’s optical gain reduction, discrete gain reduction, or output level. The release section also has a ‘Dual’ mode that mimics the two-stage release of the optical compressor. Easily recognizable with its iconic green LEDs! As befits a mastering compressor, most of the ratios are low—ranging from 1.2:1 to 6:1 in four steps—but an additional “Flood” setting provides a 20:1 ratio. Sonically, things are equally impressive, with the plug-in coming exceptionally close to matching the sound of the original hardware (digital models can never quite capture the sound of electrical signals flying around hot electronic components!). September 25, 2020. In each channel, a sidechain filter and separate switch for swapping three virtual output transformers, respectively, alter the compressor’s frequency sensitivity and tone (frequency response and distortion characteristics). PRICES: $299; included with Plugin Alliance’s rent-to-own MEGA Bundle subscription plan (24.99/month or $249.99/year) It provides an entire mastering chain comprising input conditioning, EQ, dynamics and stereo adjustment and each module can operate in stereo, dual mono or mid-side configuration. Learn more Shadow Hills Industries Mastering Compressor. It’s undoubtedly one of the most distinctive-looking examples of music technology, but can the tactile, vintage charms of this coveted mastering compressor make the transition into the software world? But as well as being clumsy to work with, you wouldn’t get the subtle character variability that the SHMC’s switchable transformer provides. Like many dynamics processors, th… The Discrete compressor follows the Optical compressor in the audio path and provides the expected threshold, ratio, attack, release (labeled “Discrete Recover”) and makeup-gain controls. Selecting the iron transformer models a Class-A output stage that adds even-ordered harmonic distortion, while also subtly boosting bass frequencies centered around 100 Hz. The Optical compressor precedes its Discrete foil and features a fixed 2:1 ratio, slow attack and two-stage release. As an aside, the hardware unit by Shadow Hills Industries isn’t much more than the price of an LA-2A and an 1176. The next thing to realize is that this amazing compressor is actually 2 compressors in one. The optical compressor’s release phase is a two stage, programme-dependent affair similar to that found on the classic UREI LA-2A, creating a natural and transparent release curve. The different transformer models add a whole other range of tonal choice, too, especially if driven hard by the discrete stage’s output gain. Six months later, and we've finally got everything processed and compiled to our satisfaction, ready to share with you. By Michael Cooper Published: 04/29/2020 [Editor’s Note: Shadow Hills has released a newer version of its Mastering Compressor, called the Mastering Compressor—Class A, with a few more features, a similar interface and emulation of class A electronics.] Switching between the different transformers changes the character of the sound in subtle but appreciable ways: Nickel adds distinction and airiness to the upper mids, Iron fortifies and smooths the mid and lower-mid and Steel thickens and warms the lower end of proceedings. Optical compressors are generally good for gentle progressive compression that tames dynamics without being too obvious about it, while VCA compressors are good for bringing peaks fully under control and for evening out longer-term volume differences. Dual-mono mode gave me a slightly wider stereo image than stereo mode, as expected. In the original hardware, this stage offers a choice of three different transformers, each created using wire made of different metals – nickel, iron and steel – and each wound in different ways. Customer Reviews of Mastering Compressor. The Discrete compressor—when set up optimally—delivered the most open-sounding and widest soundfield, and its adjustable time constants allowed me to fine-tune transients in a way I could not using the Optical compressor. Home. My New Squeeze Modeled Opto and VCA Compressors in One Plug-In. Time to peer deep at the shifting sonic textures presented by the aptly-named Kaleidoscopes. Boost or attenuate the compressor’s makeup gain using the 24-step Optical Gain control; unity gain is achieved at roughly position 7. The six-step Discrete Recover control produces release times ranging from 0.1 to 1.2 seconds or, alternatively, mimics the Optical section’s two-stage release when you select the knob’s Dual setting. What’s important is that the Optical compressor sounded beautiful in all other regards on this track. 53 total reviews. The 24-step Discrete Gain knob can boost or attenuate the compressor’s makeup gain, and provides unity gain at roughly position 7. By checking the boxes you agree to receive the following from us via e-mail. I preferred using the Discrete compressor alone—with 1.2:1 ratio—while mastering a shrill, thin-sounding pop-rock mix. Reviews. The ratio can be switched between 1.2:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1 and ‘Flood’, which gives an extreme 20:1 ratio. If you add the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor to your plug-in library, though, it’s likely to replace many of those favourites – it really is that good.