Softube Weiss DS-1 Mk3 and MM-1 bundle
One of the most soph sticated digital mastering compressor limiters ever - plugin form. Stuart Bruce is impressed
Invented back in the ’90s by Daniel Weiss, the DS-1 was highly lauded by respected mastering engineers for its incredible flexibility and sonic excellence. However, its high price tag has always meant it would only be found in very high-end establishments. Now, Softube (along with Daniel Weiss himself) have ported the code of the original into this plugin to give an exact replica of the original unit’s capabilities and have designed two new limiter types to boot. The MM-1 is a maximiser plugin based on the DS-1 with a simple set of control parameters but retaining the excellent sonic qualities of its elder sibling.
So let’s get to what the DS-1 does, as it’s a pretty complex beast. Its two main functions are compression and limiting. Compression can be approached either as straight stereo, mid and side or parallel compression. Detection can be summed or split (always split for M/S mode but also useful if you have heavy, loud transients on one side of the mix when in straight stereo or parallel modes) and there is a linear phase filter section with curves for high-pass, low-pass and band-pass. With the filter engaged, the unfiltered signal remains uncompressed; only the filtered signal passes through the compression stage, so you can control the low or high end of the track or just a band of it. This allows the third principal function of the unit and this is de-essing, at which the Weiss is particularly effective.
At the right of the front panel you see two rows of compression controls: attack, release delay (like a ‘hold’ function for the release section) and the three knobs of the release portion labelled fast, average and slow. This release section requires some explaining. The input is detected simultaneously using two methods, peak and RMS. When a fast attack is detected, fast release is used and when it is slow, slow setting is used. The ‘Average’ control sets the time over which the RMS component of the side chain is monitored and so short settings provide rapid responses to level differences and long ones focus more compression to transients; therefore sounding smoother and less processed overall.
Below these, you find four more controls. Threshold is self-explanatory but the others less so. Soft Knee affects the way the compression reacts to threshold level. With full soft knee engaged, compression takes effect well below threshold level with full compression at threshold and above, giving a smoother more rounded effect. The ratio control can be set for compression or expansion, expansion allowing the unit to re-introduce dynamics to a previously over compressed signal.
Finally, there is the Gain Make Up control. All of the other parameters affect the shape of the Transfer Curve (ie, the shape of the compression) but Gain Make Up moves that whole curve up or down, affecting the master level. When the filter is engaged or the unit is in parallel mode, then Gain Make Up simply affects the compressed part of the signal letting you balance with the dry
Incredible sonic purity from both plugin tools The DS-1 has excellent transient-shaping capabilities and the MM-1has simple, well chosen presets with a few highly effective parameters The DS-1 has wide-ranging controls capable of increasing dynamics as well as controlling them The DS-1 is complex to get to grips with The MM-1 could do with a variable release setting