For anyone who likes character compressors, then GUP-1 is up there with the best. It can be clean when used sparingly and in smooth mode, but I bought it mainly for the character it imparts when you push it hard. It can pump away nicely when you unclick the smooth option and behaves favourably like a decent VCA h/w compressor. The upside is that it doesn't lose alot of shine in the top end like many h/w comps do though.
To my ears it sounds as though it's simply a cut-down version of GCO-1. That's partly why I bought it, although mainly because it has the sound and also has a sidechain. That seemed to be the reason Kjaerhus coded GUP-1; apparently there were requests for the sonic style of GCO-1, but simpler and with a sidechain. I've no doubt at some stage that GCO-1 will have a sidechain at some point . Kjaerhus have stated that GCO-1 is their flagship compressor, so it won't lag behing for long I would think.
So what distinguishes GUP from GCO? 1) It's got a few less options of compressor type - so it's quicker to set up. 2) The sidechain.
1) Its modes are smooth/pumping and opto. You can still have it in smooth mode while in opto mode. Personally I'm not that much of a fan of opto compressors; they lose too much shine, and I often don't like the slowish response they tend to have. So I don't use it in that mode, but it does sound like a fair emulation. Smooth mode gives pretty clean results even when pressed quite hard, but it's when you unclick smooth that it really shines. It can pump and breathe on any mix...ideal if you're into bigbeat or similar - it can give a huge powerful sound while retaining alot of the sharpness of the original material. Put any drumloop through it and fiddle with the release and threshold at high ratios and you'll be amazed how sweet even a noisy old loop can become. Too many s/w comps just make the material sound flat when pushed hard - GUP-1 still retains some life in it.
2) The sidechain can be incredibly useful, yet there are still not that many ones available in s/w. In addition, GUP-1 has 2 filters on the sidechain; one a highpass, one a lowpass. Set them both at extremes and everything passes through the sidechain - easy to do straight ducking for example. But move them up around and you can set a bandpass, so that it then becomes a frequency-conscious compressor. This is more subtle but can be more useful - say you want a kick to duck the bassline; a kick can have a long sub on it, so the compressor might be too noticeable. But you can finetune the sidechain so that it only triggers the comp when the clicky transient of the kick sounds, but relaxes on the sub tail - can't do that with a wideband sidechain and an 808 boomy kick! It also makes it possible to do things like compress to achieve exciter effect. Keep the lowpass open, but bring the highpass up - then trigger it by a copy of the audio you're compressing! If you've never used a bandpass h/w VCA comp, you don't know what you're missing. GUP-1 is the closest I've heard yet to that type of compression. It's also useful for bass compression - do the opposite and you can bring down the higher end while also compressing the dynamics of the low end - any bassline can become a big sub without the use of Eq.
So although GUP-1 initially looks alot simpler than GCO-1, in many ways it is an awful lot more flexible.
GUI - I love the straight-forward layout of the Golden compressors. You really don't need any manual to figure out what's what if you know anything about compressors. The meters are more detailed than some - you can differentiate between very small dB differences at a glance. My only gripe is the difficulty setting small changes. You can use shift to make small parameter changes, but it's a bit glitchy, and doesn't seem to like anything less than 0.2 dB per change - no option to type in numbers either. That could definitely be improved IMO.
Other features - there's an input attenuator, so you can bring down the input if the source is too high for whatever reason. There's a wet/dry mix - useful for upward compression of things like drums. There's also an A/B comparison button. This seems to be a more common feature and I like it. You can have a setting you know works, fiddle around with it, but not lose it if you go wrong somewhere down the line. There's also an autogain button. Could be useful, although bear in mind the attack is minimum at 0.1mS, so you can still clip with autogain on - it simply determines an average peak of 0dBFS. Personally I think it's not its most useful feature, but some people like that sort of thing.
Documentation - the manual tells you the basics and is easily understood.
Presets - presets on a comp are a bit of a mystery to me. I never use them, but I suppose they're useful to some - and the presets are a good range of everyday compressor settings - you just adjust the threshold to get it to work.
VFM - excellent tool for the cheap price. Close to the real h/w deal.
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