Join Dave Darlington for an in-depth discussion in this video Using CLA Series, PuigChild, API, and SSL hardware compressor emulations, part of Waves Plug-ins: Mixing Techniques.
Each brand of analog hardware has its own distinct color and characteristics. This video will familiarize you with some of those characteristics and give you insight into the control interfaces of the plugins themselves. In tandem with Chris Lord-Alge, Waves modeled four versions of venerable universal audio hardware plugins. The CLA-2A, 3A, and two different versions of the CL-76 are modeled after, LA-2A, LA-3A, and 11-76 Blackface and Blueface, respectively. Each one has its own tonal characteristics and sonic ballistics, or reaction time, specific to their circuitry.
The CLA is a tube based optical style compressor with only two parameters, gain and compression. The ratio is always fixed at 3.1 when it's in compression mode, and a 100 to 1 when it's in limit mode. The frequency control is a waves addition that adds more highs into the control signal resulting in stronger compression. The meter can toggle between, input, output, and gain reduction. So, you can really see what your doing by, looking at the strength of the signal coming in, and the strength of the signal going out, and how much you're compressing.
Engineers love the warm sound of the LA-2A, especially on vocals and solo instruments. The tube circuits add a bit of warmth, and total harmonic distortion to the signal, making almost any track sound like a classic. Here's a saxophone. You can hear it smoothing out those strong notes, just the right amount, warming up the whole signal. The CLA-3A is modelled after the LA-3A, a solid state optical compressor. Known for it's fast reaction time the LA-3A delivers punchy compression that brings things forward in the mix. It has the same interface controls as the CLA-2A, but models a solid state output stage as opposed to the tubes.
You can use this on just about anything that requires quick reaction time. Here it is on the same sax part. So you can hear how it smoothed out those strong notes and kept the melody forward in the mix, without any art effects. Unlike the CLA-2A and CLA-3A, CLA-76 offers variable attack on release times, for controlling the tangents. This, compressor depends on the input signal for the amount of compression. The louder you put the input, the more compression. Here it is on a base. You watch as I increase the input, you see more. Compression going on.
And bringing up the sustain. There's four fixed ratios. 4, 8, 12, and 20. And this all button which emulates a very old, engineer trick, where we used to press all four buttons physically at the same time, because each one of these compression ratios in the analog hardware was a separate circuit, so when you pushed them all in, you were actually running it through four compressors at once. So let's just use a ratio of four and smooth out the bass. Watch out what happens when it gets to this loud note here. See how much compression, and it sounds nice and even.
You can hear how the compressors helping the bass keep its voice through all that stuff that's going on with guitars and saxophones and everything and you still hear the bass very clearly. The blue is the older version. And, has a little bit more, of total harmonic distortion than the blacky version which is the update. Like the pre tacky hues, the pre trial is model after one of jack dresses figs fair child 6, 70 compressors. This compressor was one of the primary mastering compressors during the heyday of vinyl in the 60s. It can compress independently left and right, which is useful in cutting vinyl.
The input knobs control the amount of compression, and there's six Attack and Release settings that are pre-set, quicker to slower. Use this on an entire track on the Master or on a drum kit to give it that awesome vinyl sound. Here's what it sounds like on this track. I'm going to exaggerate it. Listen to what it's doing to the drums. Sounds like it's on vinyl. Let's have a look at API. The API 2500 model is a stereo compressor with many options for controlling the signal flow.
The compressor section has the familiar threshold, ratio, attack, and release controls. Note that on the variable setting of the release control, release time can be, determined by a continuous knob here. The meter and master sections function as in other wave analog models, but things get really interesting here in the tone section. First, there are three settings for the knee of the compression, from soft, to medium, to hard. This means how aggressively the circuit will reduce the gain once the threshold is reached, gently, medium, or aggressively. For example, a violin bow has an attack that's somewhat gentle or gradual and if you use the hard knee, you might actually hear the compression slap into place.
Whereas the soft knee might apply that compression more gradually offering a more transparent effect. Hardening may be, more applicable to something like a snare or a guitar. The thrust section engages a high pass filter that lessens the low frequencies reaching the detection circuit, allowing for higher compression without that pumping sound. The louder setting is a more aggressive high-pass filter. And the type button toggles between new, where the detection circuit is before the output amp, and the old where it's fed after the amp. Toggle back and forth to hear the difference.
The two sides of the stereo can be variably linked in the link section, and there are filters before the circuit to eliminate high and low frequencies for being detected. When both high pass and low pass are engaged the filter acts as a band pass. The API 2500 is a superior master bus limiter delivering punch and high gain without distortion. It's also great on guitars and pianos, anything that needs to be punchy. Let's listen to it on a piano. First let's listen without the compression. Nice polite piano. Now let's add compression. Here the pumping with that hard knee so we probably don't want that, stay in the medium.
API is generally known for that punchy sound. So those are the kinds of things you would want to use it on. The SSL compressor is modeled after the famous, center bust section of the SSL hardware consoles. This compressor is on almost every hit record from, 1985 onward. It's very simple to use, and very helpful holding those peaks down so you can get maximum gain from your mix, almost like a maximizer. The controls are simple and self-explanatory. Threshold, attack release and make up gain.
There is only three ratios to choose from. Try it on you master fader and experiment with different amounts of compression to see how it makes sound polished, and finished. The Mini-waves hardware compression emulations add a rich palette of choices. Use them for color, transparency, for mild or aggressive sound alterations.
- Tone shaping with the Renaissance EQ
- Notch filtering with the Q-Series EQs
- Controlling levels with the Renaissance Compressor
- Side chaining
- Utilizing algorithmic reverb in R-Verb and TrueVerb
- Modulating delay with MondoMod
- Adding crunch with amp simulation
- Sweetening the mix