Massey Plugins CT5 Compressor by joe_04_04
- Plugin: CT5 Compressor
- Developer: Massey Plugins
- Formats: RTAS/TDM for PC, RTAS/TDM/AAX for Mac
- Price: 79 USD
- DRM: License Key
- Website: Massey Plugins
The Scope: Massey’s CT5 plugin is one of the most simple, yet useable compressor plugins on the market. The CT5 is the successor of the CT4 compressor and brings more functionality than its predecessor offered. Its extremely fast to dial, super transparent, and very gentle on the CPU.
*My background information on this plugin - When I had first heard of the CT4, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. I did not like the idea of it stripping multiple features and parameters that every other compressor had. Later down the road, I had been added to the Massey beta team and was testing their software. When it came time to test the CT5, I was unexcited. After putting it through its first couple of preliminary tests, it started to grow on me. My initial worry was that because it was so simple, it wouldn’t be useable or flexible enough to use on lots of different sources, but this worry dissipated very quickly. I soon became aware of just how usable this compressor was. As the years went on, the compressor became my go-to compressor, being used on almost every single element in a mix - individual drums, guitars, bass, vocals, and all subgroups (it can also be used for the master buss too). The plugin was originally a unit I avoided and now it has become the most used processor in all of my mixes since. It has changed my entire workflow in that I constantly look for processors with the similar design philosophies.
Sound Quality - 5/5: The CT5 is a very transparent compressor. I have used it on countless tracks and on just about every source possible and I find that it always does a great job of retaining the original characteristics of the audio. Also, you can push it to extreme gain reductions and still not notice too much compression happening. What I’ve grown to love about the CT5 is the reduced options in terms of attack and release. Massey has given us three choices of attack and three choices of release, resulting in a total of nine combinations. Even better, each of the available choices sounds great.
Outside of making a super easy to use product, I firmly believe Massey wanted to whittle down the choices so that users, both new and seasoned, would have less of a chance of destroying their source audio (which seems to happen with newer mixers). For instance, a ‘newbie’ may grab an extremely fast digital compressor that’s capable of 0.1 ms attack and release speeds and crank it all the way. Their ear may not notice the apparent distortion that starts to occur at speeds this quickly (especially in the bass region), but with CT5, you they won’t have these kinds of issues. Even the fastest attack and release times are calibrated to bring you a great result - fast enough to squash your transients if you want, but not fast enough to bring any audible distortion. He has paid careful attention in the design so that all of your choices will result in a great sound.
*Also, while the CT5 is extremely transparent already, I’ve noticed that stacking them up in a series results in even cleaner compression. I might have one CT5 on each vocal on an entire background vocal ensemble shaving off 4-5 db or so, but also have another instance on the stereo auxiliary track (background vox buss) that they are being fed into shaving off another few dB to ‘glue’ them all together and further control them.
Ease of Use - 5/5: In my opinion, the CT5 is one of the fastest compressors to dial in that still offers a bit of flexibility. There are a few others that might be faster to dial in, such as an LA-2A, but they do not offer the same amount of flexibility that the CT5 offers. My process for dialing it:
- Choose an attack time suitable for the task (leveling audio - fast attack, adding snap and punch to drums - medium or slow attack)
- Choose a release time suitable for the task (leveling audio - fast release, holding down sustained tails in bass guitars - medium or slow release)
- Dial compression knob in until it sounds good or until the gain reduction meter reflects the amount of compression you desire
- Adjust output so that it is equal to the input volume (for bypass testing)
- If you need heavier compression characteristics, engage the limit mode
- If you want to use parallel compression, dial in some dry with the blend knob
The above text may make the process seem more time-consuming than it really is - I find I’m able to find suitable compression settings for a track in a matter of 20 seconds or so. It is stunningly fast to work with and extremely pleasing. The only way the CT5 could be quicker to dial in is if more options were stripped out, but at that point, it would no longer flexible and may not be as useful to me. I think it is a perfect balance between usability and simplicity.
*I will make note of the one sample of delay that the plugin requires to process audio. Massey attributes the one sample of delay to the compressor’s design, which happens to be feedback compression. While I have absolutely no issues with this, I figured I’d mention it anyway just as a heads up. You should have no issues tracking with this delay, in 44.1 kHz, that translates to around 0.02 milliseconds.
Features - 4/5: In normal circumstances, I might dock a processor points for being overly simplistic if I couldn’t control it enough to achieve pleasing results. If the processor limited my choices in a way that effectively reduced how useable it was leaving me with a feeling of wanting more parameters, I would have no issue with reducing points in this category, but this not the case with CT5. I enjoy it because it is intelligently designed to be simple and useable. However, I did dock the CT5 a point here for it being mostly exclusive to Pro Tools users. While I do understand Massey’s coding/time limitations, I think everyone should have the ability to buy this compressor. Features include:
- Compress Knob - Ratio and threshold rolled into one knob (soft knee with lower ratio values)
- Output - Adjusts the final output volume
- Limit Button - Engages a hard knee and higher compression ratios
- Blend - Parallel mix knob to blend dry signal back in
- Attack Switch - Three choices of attack (Fast, Medium, Slow)
- Release Switch - Three choices of release (Fast, Medium, Slow)
Bang for Buck - 5/5: At 79 USD, I think the CT5 is priced fairly well. In my opinion, you are not paying for a feature set, you are paying for a workflow. You are paying for transparent compression. Lastly, You are paying for a compressor that’s processing load is so low you can use it over and over again on every single track in your mix and then double that count and still be fine (100 instances on my 2.5 gHz quad core i5=13-14 percent usage). With these aspects in mind, its obvious to me that it is a steal.
Verdict: Overall, I find the CT5 to be one of the best compressors out there. It isn’t a really a character compressor, but more of a clean, low processing, transparent compressor that can be used on almost every type of source. Going back to using any other compressor sort of feels like a chore anymore. I’ve been using the CT5 almost exclusively (outside of a few choice compressors here and there) for the past three years and can’t recommend it enough. Massey has demos of all of his products (with restrictions), so I suggest that anyone who uses Pro Tools to go give it a shot - It might just change your entire approach when it comes to compression.
Last edited by joe_04_04; 22nd July 2015 at 11:32 PM..