McDSP 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip by Diogo C
- Plugin: 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip
- Developer: McDSP
- Formats: AAX DSP/Native, AU, VST - Win/Mac.
- DRM: iLok
- Demo: 14-days fully functional
- Price: Native $329 and HD (AAX DSP) $429 MSRP. Upgrades available from 6020 and 6030. Also available on McDSP All-Access subscription plans.
- Website: 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip
Sound Quality: Awesome sounding plugin and one capable of doing many different sounds due to the sheer number of available modules. Collin’s coding capabilities are second to none and 6050 shows that once again but this time it escalates things substantially. My personal highlights would be the FRG-EEE, EZQ and E-670 equalizers, the MEF11 filter and the FRG-445 and D358 compressors, the latter being capable of some remarkably gritty and tasteful compression. The Over EZ2 compressor and S671 saturator are also very enjoyable. The gates/expanders were quite a pleasant surprise to me as I wasn’t really expecting them to be anything other than “utilities” - an application in which they greatly succeed, but they also shine as great sounding processors that can take a sound to the next level, especially the FRG-X which is capable of doing some really interesting upward expansion. As a whole I’d place the 6050 on the “colorful” side of things, it’s a great tool to reach when you want to add an extra taste or to turn a dull track intro some meaningful. It’s more of a colorful tone shaper than a precision adjuster and that’s precisely why it’s so fun and rewarding to use. There are so many good combinations possible and so much to choose from, but here are some of my favorite findings:
- Bass leveler-driver: using the D-100 distortion to level a bass line by brute force! I’d definitely recommend equalizing after that to carve out some eventual yuck - I’ve used FRG-EEE to taste and MEF1 to achieve that but the E404, E357 and E670 are great choices too and pretty much any EQ within the 6050 would also be viable.
- Female vocal thickener: very subtle dose of S671 saturation, classic FET compression and EQ taste. I can also see the Opto C2 working instead of the SST'77 if you don’t need fast compression.
- Male vocal control: EZ2 is capable of doing lots of compression, so don't be shy to push it! EZQ and MEF1 to nudge the sound to fit the track. FRG-EED with the E404 is a good combo worth trying.
- Bold guitar: Name says it all and this will give guitars some extra edge to stand out on a mix. Neve-style compression for tone and level control, then equalize and filter accordingly.
- Kick works: D358 for tone and E404 equalization, which can be replaced by other EQs but I’d recommend either this one or EZQ or British E since they have a couple of sweepable bands (but no Q control), HPF and high shelves. Turn the “range” on the FRG-X counter-clockwise for leak suppression and tightness, turn it clockwise to bring out some extra sustain but caution with don’t want lots of mic bleed.
- Snare beef: FRG-445 compressor doing a 1176-esque trick with slow attack and fast release to bring out some smack, EQ to taste - I’ve used the FRG-EEE for boosts and the E404 to polish the results but have fun with all the available EQs and filters and all their possibilities.
Ease of use: 6050 is remarkably easy to use on all aspects. The operation is extremely smooth and arranging/rearrange the modules’ order is easy as dragging from the left menu and dropping to the desired slot - and there’s also the possibility of selecting modules from an upper menu on each of them. Everything is neatly organized on categories, which helps reaching out for the desired processor. There’s also a very clever system to swap modules, that keeps the settings as best possible when switching modules within the same category. Good resolution input and output meters and a level trim helps to keep final levels in check and the always-necessary phase button wasn't forgotten as well. Sidechain input can be easily to trigger all three modules and it's also a breeze to set up; In terms of achieving the desired sounds it succeeds greatly on most occasions and the modules are on the most part very, the equalizers are usually wide and broad, compressors and gates are easy to dial and the hardest challenge is to keep focus and not get lost among so much options. That’s not something to underestimate here as it is very tempting to just try the next module and check how it sounds like. In that regard, this is a plugin that will require some decent time investment until all the modules become familiar and I’d welcome a way to open the manual from the plugin, that would help to know each module without pausing the work to find the pdf - which is nicely written and is definitely a helpful read. Last but least, 6050 shows great performance and very good optimization with low system resource consumption and zero latency. This plugin is extremely light and I could load 36 mono instances and 12 stereo instances with two modules on a session with 48kHz sample rate and it only took 6% from the CPU (click here for benchmark). The modules don’t seem to differ when it comes to CPU load, so you can have a lot of instances without any concerns.
Features: It’s hard to say that a plugin with a whopping 28 modules lacks any features, but if the 6050 thrives on areas like the broadband equalization and basically all kinds of compression, it has some deficiencies that are hard to overlook if a sense of completion is looked for. I struggled when super-precision was needed and the lack of tools for super surgical tasks became evident and in that regard I’d replace the E404 module for something with four full-parametric bands with adjust Q and having a module like the F202 from their acclaimed FilterBank would be a very welcome and I’d necessary addition. If we’re to stay with tech that has been already developed by McDSP, a de-esser module and a limiter at the very final stage would be fantastic to have. One last wish that I have is that the saturation from Analog Channel finds a way to be here in a future upgrade, as it's one of the most acclaimed ITB saturators of all time and it would complement nicely the options available on the 6050. All those processors are already developed and would likely need some re-coding to fit the 6050 format, but given Collin's vast expertise I’m sure that it could be done, so here’s some hoping that some of those gaps are eventually filled. Nevertheless, I'm taking the 6050 more as a broad brush than a pencil for the narrow lines - in that regard it greatly succeeds, offering a plethora of tone-shaping features gathered under the same roof on a very elegant way. In that regard, the 6050 can easily become the ubiquitous tone box to complement your clean and precise tools. If sound-wise I might have some complaints as described above, in all other aspects the 6050 boasts a very solid feature set, the module selection and ordering systems are great to use, there's good metering, an excellent optimization and a satisfying documentation. We can safely say that (once again) McDSP delivered an awesome tool, with a solid execution and that easy and fun to use all the way.
Bang for buck: Amazing value regardless of where you coming from, be it from upgrades from 6020 & 6030 or from a new acquisition. Besides some flaws in the ultra-precision department, 6050 is versatile enough to become some sort “tasteful” bread and butter, a plug-in that will easily found its way into many situations where making something meaningful is required. The quality of Collin’s coding shines once again and delivers a plug-in that opens up an enormous range of possibilities and with it’s great optimization it can be all over a mix without concerns.
Recommended for: Mixing engineers tired of old vanilla flavors. Anyone looking for the ultimate tonebox should by all means try the demo, which is fully-functional for only two weeks so I’d definitely recommend some planning in order to free enough time to cover it all, because there is simply too much content at hands here!
Last edited by Gearbot; 8th June 2016 at 09:04 AM..