NAMM 2016: The multiband compressor is one of the mastering engineer's best friends, but if you don't know how to use it properly, you can easily do your mixes more harm with it than good. The answer is to spend a lot of time developing the requisite expertise and, consequently, experience… or take a shortcut with Softube's foolproof new mastering plugin!
With an underlying architecture modelled on Drawmer's rather fabulous 1973 Three Band FET Stereo Compressor hardware, Drawmer S73 is billed as an "Intelligent Master Processor", designed to boil complex analogue-style multiband compression down to just a handful of controls.
The developer claims it "does most of the job for you by making the choices a mastering engineer would make", which in practical terms means that all you have to do is select one of ten preset mastering Styles, sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. With self-explanatory names like 'More air', 'Clarity', 'Punch', and 'De-rumble', each Style automatically adjusts an array of under-the-hood compression, EQ and mid-side processing parameters to imbue your mix with its stated 'sound'.
Beyond that, the Amount knob sets the depth of the processing; the Air switch activates a high shelving filter, we assume; and the Mix and Gain knobs control the wet/dry mix and output level respectively.
We're admittedly a bit sceptical as to how successful Drawmer S73's 'black box' approach to the highly contextual business of mastering can really be, but there's certainly no doubting Softube's pedigree and track record when it comes to creating truly top-notch plugins, so we're more than happy to keep an open mind.
Drawmer S73 is out on February 2 at an introductory price of $75, before settling at $99 on February 29. It's also included in the Focusrite/Softube Time and Time bundle, which is offered free to owners of certain Scarlett audio interfaces. Find out more at Softube's website.
Softube Drawmer S73 features
- Modelled on the analogue Drawmer 1973 Three Band FET Stereo Compressor
- Ten preset mastering Styles for instant results - almost literally couldn't be easier to use
- Mix control for parallel compression
- Air switch for high-end lift
- VU metering