Their role is to sit in the output chain, trimming the level off unwanted mix peaks, before zipping a ﬂatter output signal to a limiter or loudness maximiser for the all essential 'mix squash'. Into a growing range of mastering-ready 'Precision' tools, UAD now introduce their Precision Buss Compressor.
The upper half of the GUI concerns itself with input/output metering and associated level dials, with one attributed to each stage. In the middle, an additional 'Mix' dial lets you set a blend between input and output signals.
The lower half starts by offering a high-pass ﬁlter, with cutoff up to 500Hz. This allows you to leave bass out of the equation whilst you're processing sound, which is invaluable at the master output stage.
Next to Threshold, you'll ﬁnd the ratio dial with just three options: 2:1, 4:1 and 10:1. This may seem too few for some users but somehow, the Precision Compressor manages to make this less big a deal than it might be within other models.
Three additional dials provide Attack, Release and Fade. Attack offers a narrow-ish range of options between 0.1 and 30ms, whilst Release can be set between 0.1 and 1.2 seconds, with Automatic Release also available.
The Fade dial lets you set a fade time between 1 and 60 seconds and is activated by a simple click of the 'Fade' button. Throughout the GUI, all dials are ﬂanked by numeric readouts so you can keep precise tabs on your settings.
As you'd expect, this compressor does a wonderful job at the mastering stage, when used between a master EQ plug-in and a loudness maximiser. It doesn't colour the sound either, it'll simply sit in the output plug-in chain, marshalling unwanted peaks down and performing very solidly.
What this means is that it's also excellent as a buss compressor for banks of grouped tracks. Its most impressive test came on a stack of backing vocals, which it looked after with ease, allowing me to process 36 tracks together, without the sound breaking up or individual tracks requiring any volume automation.
Again, the result was free from too much timbral change, which made it invaluable and, better yet, completely dependable. It almost goes without saying that it's equally capable of thickening or widening individual stereo tracks, with presence and warmth added in roughly equal measure.
We tend to go in search of features that seem bigger and louder than the competition. What I like so much about the Precision Compressor is that it's capable of the opposite - a transparent, musical result for any sound.
If you're looking for a mastering compressor or one for in-channel and buss treatments, you won't be disappointed if you end your search here.