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Based on V-Plugs "Smart Dynamic Control" technology (SDC), Uranium presents an alternative to classic compressors with a distinctive sound and features.
The SDC technology uses a sophisticated 'look ahead' algorithm that analyzes the signal level over time. According to this analysis, Uranium applies compression by increasing the quiet parts and attenuating the louder ones simultaneously. This innovative technology enables you to achieve radical dynamic manipulations with a smooth warm sound.
Smart gate and envelope shaping
Uranium features a special smart gate control that enables smooth gating operation, with no 'pumping' artifacts. The compression and gating operations are linked; so unlike standard gates, only the compressed signal will be affected. This way the gate operates as a powerful shaping tool for the compressor operation; that can be used for extra dynamic treatment, envelope and 'tail' shaping, or for the elimination of unwanted low-level noises.
Uranium's monitoring screen enables you to compare the original signal with the compressed signal, to see how much gain reduction is being applied, and to have precise information about your signal dynamics at any point.
Uranium is not your everyday compression plugin. While there ARE 4 main controls on Uranium, they are not the usual ‘Attack, Decay, Ratio, Threshold’ controls you would be familiar with on most other compressors. The GUI is quite a simple affair, except for the real-time waveform display situated in the centre of the plug, which looks a bit ominous with its glowing radioactive symbol. From the left, the four main knobs are COMPRESS, RECOVERY, GATE and GAIN, I'll run through these first...
Starting from the default state, with a standard rock drum beat (for example) the first thing I notice about tweaking the COMPRESS knob is that it very smoothly evolves into an overdriven sound. The gain reduction levels are perfectly accounted for automatically and although the signal is very in your face, the sound remains very usable. Below the COMPRESS knob is an option for the separate MID/SIDE processing of the signal. I will keep the COMPRESS value at maximum, and on the Normal setting and have a look at the what the next control can do for me...
So, next to the COMPRESS parameter is the RECOVERY control. This is essentially a decay or ‘release’ knob really, and in this example with the COMPRESS knob on Max, I can use the RECOVERY control to lengthen the compression envelope by turning it anti-clockwise from its default 12 o’clock position, or shorten it to the point of sounding like a quieter version of the dry signal by turning it clockwise. With COMPRESS at Max and RECOVERY all the way to the left, I can get a drum sound (for example) which is big-beat to the extreme. The natural reverb tails of a drum room can be ‘stretched out’ to fill the size of a warehouse. Below the RECOVERY knob is a drop down menu which features three different algorithm variations, SMOOTH (default), WARM and PUNCH. The WARM setting adds a nice subtle amount of “I don’t know what”, and the PUNCH setting can add some extreme attack transients to your waveforms (be warned). I will leave the RECOVERY control at 12 o’clock, with my sprinkling of warmth and take a look at the next control...
Ok, the GATE. Pretty much what it says on the tin. If I now drag the GATE knob to the 12 o’clock position, I get very short gated bursts of kick hat and snare. If I continue to drag it all the way to the extreme clockwise position I have the occasional brief snare hit just managing to wink at me through the top (or bottom?) of the envelope. Just below the GATE control, there is a drop down menu which contains a list of different speeds. With the GATE control at extreme settings, I can now relax the envelope a bit to find my desired ‘threshold’ by selecting one of these different gate speeds, and nudging the GATE control slightly. Using Uranium as a gate effect, it is possible to shape my audio with some tight, unique and ‘musical’ envelopes (for lack of a better word). It’s also worth mentioning that only the compressed signal is being gated in this algorithm, so the GATE functions are strongly influenced by the amount of compression used.
The last of the main controls is the GAIN knob, which is fairly self explanatory I would assume. This control is used to adjust your make-up levels (which is not so often surprisingly, due to the intelligent algorithm utilised in Uranium’s coding. Below the GAIN control is another drop-down list featuring 2 different saturation algorithms, again, both very usable and er... musical :p
Also on the GUI are the STEREO LINK and MIX faders. STEREO LINK is a fader to combine the processing of the left and right channels, and MIX is a WET/DRY control, very handy for NY style compression... Also worth mentioning is the ability to monitor the waveform display in real time and pause it to get a better look at the way the plugin is affecting the waveform.
In the year or so I’ve been using Uranium, I’ve enjoyed it and used it more and more. I realise that most people use compression purely to ‘tame’ their audio levels, but Uranium is a compressor you can use as an effect! As a modern gate effect or a kind of transient designer, or to add groove to your tracks. It also adds some nice dirt. Uranium is a handy and modern sounding audio sculpting tool, it is fast and easy to use, and very stable. I am a quite surprised that Uranium remains such a hidden gem. It's not a compressor for all uses, but it is quite unique in what it does. I really urge you to check it out.
I innitially gave it a 10 out of 10, but I think I should save that for when (or if) the 64bit and Mac versions are released ;)Read Review