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Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
April 13th, 2020
Version reviewed: 1.04 on Mac

This would be good if the GUI didn't take up the ENTIRE screen. Is the target audience the mostly blind? It's one of the biggest GUI's I've ever seen. Would be nice if there was a resize option but apparently not.

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TS-1 Transient Shaper

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
May 14th, 2018
Version reviewed: 1 on Mac

I tried this out but it doesn't appeal to me much.

There's a huge GR meter in the middle of the GUI but it only applies to the amount reduced by softclipping. If you were using this for mastering you would probably avoid the softclipping, so most users are just going to find that GR meter a waste of space. Also the needle on the thing is slower than a snail so it's pretty useless even if you go for the softclipping.

There's no bypass on the GUI. The speed/resolution dial doesn't seem to work properly when you bypass via the daw. So that's another irritation.

The transient process sounds decent, it has two hipass filters that can be optionally applied, haven't seen this before. However, it doesn't really do anything special and can't give extreme sounds. If I wanted a quick light transient shaper I would probably go to Bittersweet by Flux.

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Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
June 22nd, 2015
Version reviewed: 2 on Mac

Here's a quick review of the big Klanghelm compressor (aka the DC8C2).

First thing you'll notice is the GUI is darn huge. Even in easy mode the GUI fills up most of a laptop screen. Not sure why the knobs are so big and the meters are so small.

The GR meter is ok but the input and output meters are VU. I don't like VU much. Feels like something out of the dark ages. There's a calibration knob which helps a little but essentially I found the input and output meters a complete waste of space. I'd like to see them removed and replaced with one big GR meter.

There's four "basic" modes and one "expert" mode. The basic modes sound REAL NICE. My favourite was the "punch" mode. The "smack" mode was also good. The crush mode uses A LOT of cpu. Even without the expert mode I think this would still be a great compressor.

The expert mode provides access to a lot of parameters that are normally deeply buried in the circuits of other plugs. What I found most fun to play with were the "program dependency" and "hold" knobs which alter the attack and release shapes (etc). The program dependency knobs seem to turn in opposite directions to each other (ie somewhat counterintuitive). There's also a channel separation in a box marked "detection". The channel separation allows the compressor to run as anything up to dual mono (ie doesn't merely affect the detection).

The expert mode also features a saturation on the input gain. I thought it was pretty subtle. On the maximum setting I would like to really hear a crunch. You should further note that the input gain is routed inside the wet dry switch, perhaps in order to facillitate saturating only the wet channel.
You can create some unusual shapes with the knee parameters, haven't seen this on other compressors. Interesting. Another unique feature is the option to vary the amount of signal feedback.

In the ratio section you get a range knob and something that smooths the reduction. I also like the "tilt" filter on the sc. Haven't seen that before and it strikes me as preferable to the standard HP many compressors have.

There's also a bunch of other unique variables I didn't mention which may be remarkable but on a quick trial didn't strike me as that interesting.
If you click the meters you get a clean bypass. There's no A/B option or anything similiar. Something this complex could possibly benefit from that type of thing as there is A LOT you can change and within a few knobs you can have a really different sound.

All up a really great plug. Lots of fun to play around with. Great sound. Pity the meters are not so well implemented (in my opinion). Watch the CPU use if you decide to oversample or use "crush".

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H-Comp Hybrid Compressor

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
May 5th, 2015
Version reviewed: 8 on Mac

I came back to this compressor recently and decided to give it a proper work-out. There's some good features here that you won't find anywhere else.

First thing you'll notice is the GUI is the size of your head. Why anyone would want a threshold dial bigger than their own eyeball is unclear. But if you're partly blind, this could be the compressor for you.

The GR meter is also huge. I like a big fast GR meter and this is gratuitous beyond belief. Easy to read, fast and accurate as far as I can tell. There's an automatic make-up on this compressor that can't be disabled which means you might find yourself using the meter more than usual. Furthermore the dry/wet comes before the GR meter. This means that you can see the GR post parallel. I found it fast and novel doing parallel with the auto-make-up and the GR routing. Also note that the meter further includes the amount removed by the limiter etc.

The implementation of the release is also quite unique. It optionally syncs to the tempo of your daw, thereby facilitating release times of 1/4 bar 1/16 bar etc. The release can also be set very fast (3ms). The attack is fairly standard and runs between 0.5ms and 100ms.

Yet another curious feature is the "punch" dial. This seems to mix some of the dry signal in immediately following the transients (measured in ms?) Could be useful for slamming techno etc. The effect is considerably different to merely increasing the attack.

There's additionally four optional "analog" modes of operation. They do sound quite different and it's a nice way to change the sound without altering the compression. Flicking through the dial I mostly noticed variations in frequency response and I was glad that none of the options seemed to include white noise (a pet hate of mine). It's a complete mystery what sort of processing is occurring and waves tells us absolutely nothing on their pdf etc. It may be that some engineers modelled the analog modes on various hardware units. Or perhaps they just randomly made up some algorithms.

The compressor includes a 0db limiter/clipper at the output that annoyingly cannot be disabled. You can switch between the limiter and the clipper but I found it hard to determine the difference even on heavy settings, so presumably it's not a very good limiter.

This may not produce the sound of more famous software or hardware compressors but I got some good sounds out of this. It's all subjective right? And the original arrangement and workflow may help to you to do something you wouldn't have otherwise thought of. It may be a good compressor for four to the floor type edm. Also good if you want to do something a bit crunchy and kooky.

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Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
April 1st, 2015
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

What we're looking at here is quite possibly the most powerful dynamics tool known to mankind. There really is very little else in the same ballpark, and the pro-MB is even vastly more powerful than the previous dynamics plugs produced by FF.

I think the major application for the pro-MB is in altering or repairing audio loops and tracks that have been recorded previously - ie where several channels are now irrevocably layered. This could mean spicing up classic drum loops, remastering old "masters", gating or reducing certain instruments in a mix, or replacing one drum sound in an old loop.

The plug appears to be generally promoted as a "multi-band compressor" - however I think it might be more useful to call it an advanced dynamic equalizer. Probably the first thing to note is that this thing does all four varieties of dynamics equally well. Specifically this means: 1) standard compression (reduce above the threshold, raise the output), 2) upward compression (increase below the threshold), 3) transient enhancing (increase above the threshold, lower output) and 4) basic expansion (reduce below threshold). Switching between these modes is done by a comp/exp button and a positive/negative range. It took me a long time to get my head around this and I found I had to write notes about the different modes until it sunk in. These relatively uncommon modes allow you to do things that no other plugs can do. For example, using upward compression you can raise the volume of some background percussion without altering the sounds of other instruments. Basic expansion allows you to vastly reduce certain instruments etc.

The dynamics processing can be tweaked in just about every way you could possibly desire. There is an optional lookahead of up to 20ms, oversampling up to 4x, program dependent attack and release, variable knee shape, optional limiting by range, and variable ratio. There is literally nothing missing in this thing and it's all exceptionally well implemented. It can be transparent even when you are really pushing it. Furthermore there is an extremely useful wet/dry that runs up to 200%, which allows you to create an over-the-top sound and then scale it back to the realms of normality.

On top of these remarkable features the compressor is "multi-band". Therefore radically different compressor settings can be ascribed to various frequency ranges. For example there may be upward compression on the mids, basic expansion on the lows, and transient enhancing on the tops. Each band may also be "side-chained" to a different frequency range, ie when the bass sounds you could chose to raise the top end, and so forth. The dynamics band can also be triggered by an external sidechain (one per instance of the plug). This allows you to potentially insert new sounds into an old piece of audio, ie you could insert a new kick drum sound into the low frequencies.

Another feature (damn there's a heck of a lot) is the stereo processing. Individual bands can be panned (at the gain knob) to either mid or side. Each band can further be set to process only the mid or side by varying amounts. Although the "stereolink" knob is over there near the sidechain section, it actually affects the processing of the band, not merely the triggering. This feature also exists in the FFproC2. It can be confusing the first time you come across it.

The analyzer is very good although I preferred it much faster and more precise than the default. The incoming signal is not exceptionally differentiated from the outgoing - the outgoing has a defined line to the top of it. It takes a while to learn but it can be very useful.

I'm not going to talk about the "dynamic phase" business because I don't entirely understand it. I couldn't get a bad sound out of it. The mechanics are probably not all that important to the end user.

So I have really written a lot here a lot about this plug. I think perhaps it is more powerful than many artists/producers will know what to do with. In many ways it feels "ahead of the game". I think folks are going to discover this and use it to do things that have perhaps never been done before.

Don't think I have ever written such a glowing review. What's going on? :-)

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Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
July 24th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Mac

Replicant is one of my all time favourite FSU plugs.

What is FSU? I believe it stands for "Fuck Shit Up". FSU plugs usually process a stream of audio and then rearrange it, stutter it or apply a sequence of different effects.

You can use Replicant to make live glitch or possibly breakcore. But there are many other applications. For example: 1) you are jamming over a drum loop and it's getting boring as hell. Add replicant and you have a randomized, semi-intelligent drum pattern. 2) You want to create an interesting drum pattern but you're struggling with ideas. Use replicant to randomize parts of the loop and record the output. Keep the best parts and use them in your track. Or possibly recreate the best parts entirely - either way, you have something you would not have come up with yourself.

Replicant uses a circular track which I find very intuitive - other FSU tend to use a straight line. The pan, filter, and reverse effects are exceptionally well designed. Not sure why AD didn't apply similar principles to the bit reduction feature. It's very crude and typically sounds way too loud. There are limitations to the length and repeat settings, but I usually find I can work around that by stacking one or more Replicants in series - you may want to set Replicants with larger "lengths" before other Replicants using smaller "lengths".

Replicant 1.5 adds a live MIDI chop feature. This feels a bit "tacked on, and contrasts somewhat with the rest of the plug. However it works well and if you are running a randomized drum pattern you now have the option of mashing the keyboard with your hand every now and then (to create stutters).

There's also an option to randomize every variable in case you suddenly want to make some real garbage. I've just been trying to figure out what the "hold" button does but I really can't notice anything. Maybe this version has a bug or something with the hold?

I have one SIGNIFICANT CRITICISM of this plug - it doesn't handle tranisents at all well. My guess is that it does a fairly severe crossfade at the edges of the audio chunks. This means that you never get ugly sounds at the edges of the audio. However if you are running a pattern with sharp transients (at the start of the chunks) then these become much quieter than they should be. To some extent you can compensate by turning the effect volume up. But it would be SO MUCH BETTER if the plug had a crossfade variable from 0-20ms or thereabouts. Can we please see this for the next Replicant release? Please.


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Pro-L 2

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
July 6th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.13 on Mac

So I took the FF Pro-L for a test drive:

The first thing you notice is the amazing display. Looks like blood dripping over icebergs. The dripping red indicates the volume being squeezed off the peaks. You can even roughly "tune" the limiter by aiming to get the reduction (red) to neatly fit the peak (light blue). The attack and release correspond well to the display, but I couldn't notice any visual representation of the lookahead. I can hear changes as I move the dial but can't notice anything on the display. Guess I shouldn't ask for too much.

The operation can be divided into two stages. Firstly the transients are detected and squashed according to the lookahead and "style" values. Then the limiter applies "attack" and release to the result. Calling this first part of the envelope "attack" is unnecessarily confusing. It would probably be better to call it "hold" or "delay". Measuring the attack in seconds is also pretty confusing at first. Thankfully the display gives you a good idea of what is going on.

There's also the option of separating the channels (0-100%) for both stages of the limiter. I haven't explored this feature yet. It's making my head hurt just thinking about it.

The "style" variations do genuinely sound quite different, especially at high gain settings. With all the options it's hard to imagine not being able to get a good sound out of the Pro-L. You might find you can comfortably squash 10db off your tracks with this thing.

What else can I say?

It's got oversampling. It's got dithering and something called ISP which you probably don't need.

It's loud.

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Pro-C 2

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
April 14th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.23 32b on Mac

Ok, so I've just been messing around with the FF Pro-C and thought you should be subjected to a whole lot of my ideas and opinions.

*It's got a graph!!! Yep that's right a graph that shows gain reduction over time as well as the input and output waveforms. I believe the Pro-C was the first ever compressor to do something like this. If you're a total compressor noob you can use this to get your head around concepts like attack and release. However the implementation is not great. The GR is pale pink, the input is pale white and the output is pale yellow. It's a horrible choice of colours. To make matters worse, when you click "expert", the graph slides away to the left and becomes mostly obscured. Not exactly a clever design. Compare this to the huge, very legible graphs you get on the Pro-L and Pro-G. (These were produced subseqently to the Pro-C so I guess they learned from their mistakes).

*FF make a big deal about this being "program dependent". What does that mean? Well it means that rather than responding to a fixed value, the attack and release times vary somewhat depending on other variables such as frequency and duration. Maybe I'm not nerdy enough to care about any of this. I switched back and forth between the clean, feedback and opto modes to examine the differences (using drum loops). At normal GR (ie -5db) they all sounded the same to me. You also have the option of using an "automatic" release, but again I don't really see the point.

*The wet/dry option is implemented as two separate volume knobs. This makes it slow and clumsy to do parallel compression. You can however pan the dry signal to the left, right, mid, sides, etc. I tried it out and it does sound interesting in some situations.

*The sidechain option suffers from a similar problem. Instead of having a single pan and gain you get two pans and two gains. I really can't imagine ever needing this, and if I did I could employ it directly in the daw.

*The attack starts at 0.5ms and the release at 50ms. This makes the Pro-C slow compared to other compressors and totally inadequate for some applications. It might be well suited to long accoustic tracks where the volume wanders considerably.

*I think the Pro-C bears more than a small resemblance to the native ableton compressor. They both aim for transparency and do opto and feedback emulations. And from Ableton 9 they both have graphs. Is Ableton copying Fab Filter?

*It would be nice to have a clean bypass button on the gui.

Conclusion: This one could be a good choice for vocals or accoustic recordings with a meandering volume. Maybe try it on jazz or classical. There's nothing special here for EDM producers.

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Rough Rider 3

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
April 14th, 2014
Version reviewed: 2008 on Mac

Rough Rider is miles away from being a "clean" compressor that you want to use on every project. It's more like an "experimental" compressor suitable for "mashing shit up".

So here's some stuff you were dying to know:

* It has a really sexy GUI. Seriously, this is one of the best-looking GUI's I've ever seen on a compressor. I wish this was something I wanted to use a lot because it sure is hot.

* Not sure if it's on purpose but the plug rolls off frequencies above 10hz. Even when it's not compressing at all. If you were even remotely thinking about using this in any "normal" way you may as well stop now.

* I would prefer numbers. Does that mean I'm not hardcore? Ratio is 1 to 1000 logarithmic. Attack sounds like it goes right down to microseconds. Release seems to have a pretty standard range (1ms-1s?) Sensitivity aka threshold goes down to -60db. Of course you don't really need to know what anything does at all. Just turn the knobs. Audio gets mashed.

* The GR gauge isn't the best ever but it strikes me as fairly accurate. The range is 30db so each one of those thin lines is 1db.

* There's a hardclip on the output at 0db. Generally not something you want in a compressor. But it helps to create some crunchy effects.

* The "active" switch is actually a wet/dry variable that you can alter within your daw. This is one of the most useful parameters. Why can't I change it on the GUI? Seems like a bad decision to hide it behind a switch.

*The dry signal bypasses the makeup and the hardclip. I find this a good arrangement. Unfortunately the gauge measures the gain reduction across the wet/dry. I find this counterintuitive and atypical for compressors.

In conclusion: It would be a big mistake to try and use Rough Rider all over your tracks like a "normal" compressor. In fact I'm not sure it belongs in the compressor category at all. It might sit more comfortably alongside distortion plugs. Also I don't think Rough Rider is really a great example of what Audio Damage do. If you don't like this plug you should check out some of their others regardless.

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Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
March 25th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Mac

This is probably the ugliest compressor ever produced but it's the sound that matters right? The big attraction with this plug is that you can draw the compression on a graph. I'd strongly recommend this to anyone who is new to dynamics. It's a good tool for learning.

As usual Melda provide almost no instructions. To get the graph feature to work click "custom shape". This disables several other knobs on the display, namely threshold, ratio, knee and knee shape, so don't bother turning any of these and disregard their values. Note that you can't maximize to 0db either when using the custom shape.

Another thing to keep in mind, especially if you're new to this - depending on your attack time quite a bit of your transient could be escaping before the graph begins to effect the signal.

The line bouncing back and forth horizontally on the graph represents the input level (post the gain knob). The first bar beneath the graph is volume reduction that occurs during compression. The second bar is output level (post the output gain).

This is also a really good plug for doing expansion or other non standard compression.

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