Flux Syrah v3 by Dowsed
• Product: Syrah v3
• Developer: Flux
• Formats: VST, AU, AAX, AudioSuite, RTAS - Win/Mac (64/32-bit where applicable)
• DRM: iLok
• Price: €119
• Demo: Fully functional for 10 days
• Website: Flux
Flux themselves describe Syrah as a “new generation dynamics processor” and the interface certainly lives up to that. Whilst the GUI is clear and concise, it turns its back on parameters usually found on dynamics processors such as threshold, ratio, attack and release. This is exciting and daunting in equal measure and it means that the learning curve of Syrah is much larger than most plug-ins, but my god was it worth it. Syrah also includes a lovely metering section that makes it very easy to see what you are doing to the waveform. Due to the unique and often pioneering controls, this review will probably read like a quasi-quick-start guide for using Syrah.
The algorithm and controls in Syrah are built around “adaptive processing”, meaning that not only is the plug-in adapting to the program material but also the other controls, often the controls affect more than one element of the underlying algorithm. So, in other words, a lot of work is being done under-the-hood to create smooth and musical results, making it much smarter than a conventional compressor. Syrah is like combining the effects of careful pre-compression level rides, standard compression and transient design all rolled into one.
Once you get your head around the unusual parameters, Syrah is simple to set up, I usually dial in some gain reduction by increasing the main “amount” knob then audition the different adaptive processing styles by using the “mode” slider. Once you have selected the most appropriate style, you can use the other controls to further hone the results.
Once the algorithm and amount controls are in the ballpark a lot can be done to further enhance the results. This is where spending a bit of time experimenting is crucial, because whilst the parameters are sensibly named, they require some critical listening to get to grips with the subtleties of they are actually doing.
Just under the mode control, is two other sliders speed and velocity, these are the closest parameters to the traditional attack and release values on a traditional compressor. The speed slider displays a percentage value and dictates the processing integration time, which is akin to attack time. Whilst the speed parameter can be useful in some applications, I usually like to use Syrah with the lookahead button enabled (just above the mode slider), this inactivates the speed slider and instead responds much more closely to the onset of the transient peaks of the program material. The velocity parameter controls how quickly the algorithm reacts to dynamic changes in the program material, which is somewhat more loosely related to release time. Another useful feature is the boost button, which intensifies the effects of the algorithm, which is like the punish/nuke/destroy modes on other processors.
One of the reasons Syrah can create such musical results is that is that it gives you some controls that shape the envelope of the sound in ways more like a transient designer rather than what is possible with a standard compressor.
Just under the amount knob are three other dials:
• Thickness, is a low frequency enhancer which helps to “put back” some low-end often lost during compression
• Relax – helps to loosen the compression algorithm, which helps when you want to retain dynamic range
• Relax bass - is like a side-chain filter, which stops the dynamics processing being triggered by low frequency information.
Further features such as mid side processing, stereo-width adjustment, channel linking, wet/dry mix and the peak limiting section, help to take Syrah way past the results that a standard compressor can achieve.
Flux Syrah is an incredible dynamics tool, I use it primarily to create solidity of performance and bring instrumentation closer to the front of a mix. One instance of Syrah can replace, what would have been a three-stage process previously:
careful clip-gaining (pre-compression) -> peak limiter -> smoothing compression.
However, there are a couple of occasions where a more traditional compressor might be a better fit:
• I find that adjusting the timing of the release of compressors to the tempo of the music can help to achieve a result, which breathes with the rhythm, which is something harder to achieve with Syrah.
• I find that classic analogue modeled gear under extreme compression (particularly in parallel) creates a more obvious “pumping and breathing” effect with more pleasing harmonic distortion.
Sound Quality (5) - Syrah sounds great and is extremely flexible
Ease of Use (3) - This is extremely difficult to score because once you are used to it, it is extremely simple to use. However, the un-orthodox parameters there is a large amount of discovery time needed to get the best out of it.
Features (5) – Syrah is packed full of features to keep the most avid tweakheads content.
Bank for Buck (4) - At €119 it is more expensive than some other dynamics processors on the market, but its uniqueness and flexibility more than makes up for it.