A vari-mu style com­pres­sor will add ex­tra flavour to your tone pal­ette. Let’s see if this new ad­di­tion has any other tricks up its sleeve

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TuCo (AU, VST, VST3, AAX) is a new com­pres­sor plugin from Son­imus, based on a vari-mu-style valve cir­cuit with feed­back topol­ogy. The main con­trols are Amount (thresh­old), Re­lease and Out­put, with a fourth con­trol (Mode) se­lect­ing ei­ther com­pres­sor or lim­iter be­hav­iour. There are slow and fast at­tack op­tions for each be­hav­iour (so four Modes in to­tal), and in typ­i­cal vari-mu fash­ion, the as­so­ci­ated ra­tios are vari­able with com­pres­sion be­tween 1.5:1 and 3:1, and lim­it­ing be­tween 4:1 and 10:1. Click­ing the VU-style level meter re­veals three me­ter­ing op­tions (in­put, out­put and gain re­duc­tion). Mean­while, at the bot­tom of the in­ter­face, you’ll find out­put Mix blend, sidechain high-pass fil­ter (10Hz to 350Hz) and out­put Drive, which is a sep­a­rate post­com­pres­sion valve sat­u­ra­tion pro­ces­sor.

TuCo has a few less ob­vi­ous fea­tures. You can choose one of four stereo pro­cess­ing modes, click­ing the Amount la­bel re­veals an auto gain makeup set­ting (AMG), and click­ing on the Mix con­trol re­veals the op­tion to move the Mix blend be­fore or af­ter the Out­put level con­trol. When it’s set to run be­fore the Out­put, the dry sig­nal is gain-com­pen­sated, so you can sim­ply set your de­sired par­al­lel mix blend and then use the Out­put to set the over­all out­put level. Set to the post-out­put set­ting, the Out­put con­trol de­ter­mines the level of the wet sig­nal, while the dry sig­nal is left as is. Bear in mind that in both cases, the sig­nal still has to pass through the valve Drive pro­ces­sor.

Mu do some­thing to me

TuCo in­cludes a good se­lec­tion of around 50 cat­e­gorised pre­sets and a sim­ple browser that al­lows easy cre­ation of new cat­e­gories and pre­sets. There are plenty of drum set­tings demon­strat­ing ev­ery­thing from snare and kick lev­el­ling to more punchy ag­gres­sive pro­cess­ing. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, most of these pre­sets make use of the Drive pa­ram­e­ter, and this is def­i­nitely one key as­pect of the de­sign, even though it sits out­side the com­pres­sion cir­cuit.

With the Drive set to zero, TuCo still de­liv­ers an ex­cel­lent range of drum flavours, rang­ing from su­per-fast tran­sient-nail­ing to more lazy­at­tack, fast-re­lease snappy sounds. On kicks, the sidechain high-pass is par­tic­u­larly wel­come, al­low­ing us to re­ally bring out the at­tack with­out dis­tort­ing the body of the sound. On drum kit room mics, mean­while, you can re­ally en­hance en­ergy, and the Re­lease en­ve­lope seems par­tic­u­larly well suited to drums. Even so, TuCo can do less au­di­ble com­pres­sion if re­quired, and pi­ano, acous­tic gui­tar, vo­cals and picked elec­tric gui­tar are all very easy to en­hance.

So, what of the Drive op­tion? This can add some ex­tra pres­ence to sounds (with both odd and even har­mon­ics show­ing up on our anal­yser), although bass heavy sounds can be­gin to sat­u­rate at high set­tings set­tings, so a lit­tle care is wise. As men­tioned, this pa­ram­e­ters sits af­ter the com­pres­sor, so the out­put level in­flu­ences things too.

Over­all, TuCo is a well-thought-out and pretty sim­ple com­pres­sor/lim­iter, and although we’d like to see a mid/side mode, it none­the­less de­liv­ers a broad pal­ette of sounds.

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