In­fused with the soul of the clas­sic Urei 1176, this FET feed­back com­pres­sor em­u­la­tion is en­ter­ing into an al­ready crowded mar­ket

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The lat­est dy­nam­ics pro­ces­sor from Pol­ish plugin wizards PSP Au­dioware is a FET-style feed­back com­pres­sor in­spired by the Urei 1176, which is widely re­garded as one of the great­est char­ac­ter com­pres­sor/lim­iters ever made. FET­pres­sor (VST/AU/AAX/RTAS) isn’t in­tended to be an ex­act em­u­la­tion, as the sub­sti­tu­tion of Thresh­old and Makeup gain knobs for the 1176’s In­put and Out­put di­als, and the ad­di­tion of var­i­ous new fea­tures, make clear. It doesn’t aim to sound ex­actly the same as any spe­cific re­vi­sion of the 1176, ei­ther – PSP tell us they de­signed FET­pres­sor to pro­vide the best of the ‘generic’ 1176 sound, but with en­hanced con­trols and a more con­ven­tional, mod­ern work­flow.

Fine FET

FET­pres­sor’s GUI is typ­i­cal PSP: a pho­to­re­al­is­tic hard­ware-style fas­cia footed by pre­set man­age­ment and A/B con­trols. The Thresh­old knob ex­tends up to +12dB, the ex­tra range used to com­pen­sate for the au­to­matic in­ter­nal thresh­old de­crease ap­plied for ra­tios be­low 4:1. You see, un­like the 1176’s but­ton-op­er­ated fixed com­pres­sion ra­tios, FET­pres­sor’s Ra­tio knob tran­si­tions con­tin­u­ously from 16:1 all the way to 1:1. The rea­son for the 1:1 set­ting is that the plugin fea­tures un­der-the-hood am­pli­fier and out­put trans­former em­u­la­tions, im­part­ing their own (very sub­tle) sound, which you might want to use with­out ap­ply­ing any com­pres­sion.

One of the defin­ing fea­tures of the 1176 is its in­cred­i­bly fast at­tack, which FET­pres­sor matches with its 0.1-10ms At­tack range, for ef­fec­tively in­stant com­pres­sion. The Re­lease, mean­while, can go faster than the 1176’s short­est 50ms set­ting, ramp­ing all the way down to 10ms (and up to 1s).

Onto those all-new bits and pieces, then. The sidechain high-pass fil­ter proves use­ful for com­press­ing drum busses and other mixed­fre­quency sig­nals, tak­ing the low end (10Hz to 1kHz) out of the de­tec­tor cir­cuit to re­duce pump­ing; while the Blend con­trol mixes wet and dry sig­nals for par­al­lel com­pres­sion. FET­pres­sor can also com­press only the left or right chan­nel, and (back in stereo mode) com­press each chan­nel in­de­pen­dently or both equally.

FET­pres­sor doesn’t sound ex­actly the same as the 1176 – PSP have suc­cess­fully put their own spin on its sound and re­sponse. It’s fab­u­lously mu­si­cal, bring­ing out the best in all kinds of in­stru­men­ta­tion. On the drums bus, it de­liv­ers heft, power and bite at high ra­tios, and more trans­par­ent lev­el­ling at lower set­tings; and the cu­ra­tive ef­fect is has on fluc­tu­ant vo­cals, gui­tars and basses is ex­tra­or­di­nary, en­hanc­ing their in­her­ent en­ergy, pres­ence and at­ti­tude.

There are a cou­ple of stick­ing points, how­ever. Hav­ing to click the names of the sidechain fil­ter and Blend con­trol to ac­ti­vate them is awk­ward in a UX sense. Also, FET­pres­sor doesn’t yet al­low for ex­ter­nal sidechain­ing, al­though PSP say it will do in a fu­ture up­date.

You may al­ready own at least one de­cent 1176 em­u­la­tion, but PSP’s late en­try into the game is with­out doubt one of the best we’ve heard, ably cap­tur­ing all the util­ity and char­ac­ter of the real thing but with its own an­gle. It’s also got that sidechain fil­ter, dry/wet mix con­trol and stereo link/un­link func­tion, of course, which yours may not. The lack of ex­ter­nal sidechain­ing will be an is­sue for some, but for those who can get past that (or wait for it), FET­pres­sor serves as a to­tally con­vinc­ingly re­minder of just how au­then­tic soft­ware ana­logue em­u­la­tions can be.

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