Fancy get­ting 14 clas­sic com­pres­sor em­u­la­tions in one plugin? And how about us­ing the tools they were made with to build al­ter­na­tives?

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Melda’s new flag­ship dy­nam­ics plugin, MTur­boComp (VST/AU/AAX) is, at heart, a full-on com­pres­sor/lim­iter con­struc­tion kit. How­ever, for most, its main draw is prob­a­bly go­ing to be the col­lec­tion of clas­sic and vin­tage com­pres­sor em­u­la­tions that have been made for us by the de­vel­op­ers us­ing its in­built tools.

Th­ese em­u­la­tions are called Ac­tive pre­sets, and there are 14 of them, plus four to­tally orig­i­nal creations in­clud­ing a gate and ex­pander. You can’t save your own cus­tom de­vices into the panel as Ac­tive pre­sets, it’s worth not­ing – they’re just stored as reg­u­lar pre­sets.

Turbo kid

Each em­u­la­tion fea­tures all the con­trols of the orig­i­nal hard­ware in­form­ing it, and a stan­dard set of fur­ther com­mon pa­ram­e­ters, found in the Glob­als, De­tec­tor and De­tec­tor EQ sec­tions.

The Glob­als sec­tion hosts knobs for In and Out Gain, Dry/Wet mix, and Com­pres­sion and Sat­u­ra­tion amounts. Com­pres­sion in­creases the amount of gain re­duc­tion ap­plied with­out sig­nif­i­cantly chang­ing the fi­nal vol­ume level, by si­mul­ta­ne­ously rais­ing the in­put gain and low­er­ing the out­put gain. Sat­u­ra­tion di­als in ana­logue-style dis­tor­tion of var­i­ous types, as cho­sen in the Ed­i­tor, in­clud­ing soft and hard clip­ping, and fold­back.

The De­tec­tor and De­tec­tor EQ sec­tions han­dle in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal sidechain fil­ter­ing and peak EQing, for em­pha­sis­ing or re­duc­ing the de­tec­tor re­sponse to par­tic­u­lar fre­quency ranges.

The model-spe­cific pa­ram­e­ters are housed in the Com­pres­sor sec­tion, each set draw­ing on the ex­pected pool of op­tions – Thresh­old, Ra­tio, Knee, At­tack, Re­lease, Look-Ahead, etc.

Al­though the avail­able pa­ram­e­ters vary be­tween Ac­tive pre­sets, they all es­sen­tially share the same drab, unin­spir­ing (al­beit cus­tomis­able to an ex­tent) in­ter­face. It’s a shame – we’d re­ally like to have seen a bit more ef­fort made in cap­tur­ing the looks of the em­u­lated boxes to go with the sounds. Also, while all the com­mon con­trols can be locked off, the Com­pres­sor sec­tion doesn’t hold its set­tings when you switch be­tween Ac­tive pre­sets, re­set­ting to the de­faults ev­ery time. The A-H snap­shots make com­par­i­son of up to eight set­ups easy enough, but we’d rather the Ac­tive pre­sets re­tained their set­tings nonethe­less. We’re also not fans of us­ing per­cent­ages to in­di­cate com­pres­sion ra­tios and en­ve­lope times.

Still, the sound is what it’s re­ally all about, of course, and on that front, MTur­boComp is mag­nif­i­cent. There are mul­ti­ple spe­cial­ists here for ev­ery pro­duc­tion sit­u­a­tion, from vo­cals and in­stru­men­ta­tion of all kinds to bus and mas­ter­ing com­pres­sion, tak­ing in a wide va­ri­ety of char­ac­ters and trans­parency lev­els along the way. While we can’t in all hon­esty com­ment on the pre­cise ac­cu­racy of all 14 em­u­la­tions (and Melda them­selves say “they don’t sound ex­actly the same” any­way), all of them be­haved largely as ex­pected based on me­mory, the few bits of hard­ware we did have avail­able for com­par­i­son, and equiv­a­lent plu­g­ins from other de­vel­op­ers.

While the more ‘sci­en­tific’ mu­sic tech­nol­o­gist will find plenty to get their teeth into with Edit mode, for the vast ma­jor­ity, MTur­boComp sim­ply stands as a com­pre­hen­sive li­brary of su­perb clas­sic com­pres­sors and lim­iters that sound phe­nom­e­nal from top to bot­tom, even if they don’t also look it.

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