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Classic Console Strip Lives Up to Its NameVersatile plugin from URS combines EQ and Compressor
Large format mixing consoles are often judged by the quality of their equalizers and compressors, and it's starting to be like that with Digital Audio Workstations.
The difference, of course, is that DAWs use plugins to emulate the circuitry of outboard hardware processors and mixing consoles, in addition to presenting completely new digital-only designs. But ironically, plugins can be much more versatile than the hardware they emulate.
A good example is URS' new Classic Console Strip ($249.99 native, $499.99 TDM), which features both an EQ section and a compressor in a channel strip configuration. The three-band EQ digitally recreates the EQ characteristics of three different analog consoles -- one for each band. Although URS doesn't reveal which consoles its EQ algorithms are based on, imagine being able to tweak a channel's high frequencies with an API, the midrange with an SSL and the low end with a Neve.
The compressor section, meanwhile, is based on the sonic character of a transformer input and a "feed forward" 1975 VCA gain reduction amplifier. This combination imparts a steady warmth to the sound that can be driven to aggressiveness when needed. The Threshold, Ratio and Gain Makeup settings are fully adjustable, and there are three preset Attack and Release settings.
The Classic Console Strip is a great-sounding plugin that is compatible with nearly any Mac OSX or Windows XP DAW application, with VST, Audio Units and Pro Tools TDM versions. URS has also recently announced Mac-Intel compatibility. I tried the Classic Console Strip on both a PowerMac G5 using Logic Pro 7 and a Windows XP machine running SONAR 5, with equally good results. It requires the use of an iLok USB copy protection key ($40), which can host other plugins as well. The slight hassle of the iLok is worthwhile because of this plugin's quality and utility.
First of all, the compressor section can be run pre or post EQ (as on a console) by flipping a switch on the plugin interface, to make the EQ work on the compressed signal or the compressed signal on the EQ'd one. Whichever mode you choose, changes made to either the EQ or the compressor affect how both functions operate. Second, the Compressor and EQ sections are independent of each other, so either one can be used in standalone mode if desired. There are buttons in each section to switch them in or out.
The Classic Console Strip's interface is easy to grasp for anyone who's familiar with compressor and EQ controls. There are 45 presets included in a pulldown menu, which offer excellent starting points for guitars, basses, drums, rooms and vocals.
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