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

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

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

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