Featured Audified u73b V2 by diogo_c
*Product: u73b V2
*Formats: AU/VST/AAX Plug-In
*DRM: iLok Software
*Price: $149 MSRP
The scope: Audified presents the second version of its u73b compressor/limiter, a plug-in based on a vintage German broadcast hardware from the 1960s. Since I’m a new user and haven’t used the first version (which was reviewed here) this review will focus solely on the new V2 and how it does on its own but here goes the new features and improvements according to Audified:
- External side chain added
- Auto Output parameter added
- Plugins built in newer compilers, more effective code.
- Color settings dialog added
- Default calibration parameter value mechanism added, calibration parameter range changed.
- English language of the interface added
- Oversampling added, algorithm improved
- GUI improved, retina support
- Software can be used on 2 computers per ID simultaneously. (User gets 2 licenses)
In use: Operation is quite straight forward, as there are only a handful of parameters available - dial the input and set the calibration and it will start to compress. Pick compressor or limiter mode, set the release time, which can be fixed (black marks) program dependent (red marks), and compensate the output accordingly - to help us out on that aspect there’s an automatic output compensation switch, which attenuates the output level as you increase the input gain. There’s also a fixed sidechain HPF for the compressor (doesn’t work on limiting mode), external sidechain triggering and different triggering options for the detector, as compression can be triggered from either the left or right side, from left+right (stereo link) and left and right independently (dual-mono). The u73b also offers input and output trim on the top menu, optional oversampling for greater accuracy at the expense of some CPU power and two interface languages (German/English).
Sound quality: Audified came up with quite an exotic comp/limiter with a strong sonic signature that definitely lands on the “coloured” side of the fence rather than on the “transparent” side. It’s mellow in terms of action, reminds me a bit of opto comps in that regard. There’s some saturation as you push for more gain reduction but what stands out to my ears is the frequency response. There’s a gentle high frequency roll-off which makes it a bit dark sounding, but in a good way I’d say. When oversampling is engaged the envelope sounds a bit more refined and the frequency response seems to open slightly as well, with less high frequency loss. It’s definitely a very good sounding compressor/limiter but I can understand if its character might not appeal to some, and it’s range of operations is not exactly wide. In my experience it worked really well on vocals, bass and acoustic guitars, but not exactly something I’d use for drums, fast/agile material in general or slap on a stereo bus - maybe if it had an improved HPF on the sidechain or a mix control I’d feel different about that. Overall it’s an interesting plug-in that sounds really good on some tasks and it’s quite amazing as a vocal compressor - in that sense it’s not your “bread and butter” or “workhorse” kind of comp - it’s a specialized tool that will perform shine on some specific tasks.
Ease of use: A rather easy to use plug-in, not a lot of parameters to mess around with and achieving good or desired settings shouldn’t be much of a problem. Having said that, the u73b’s action is quite unique and might present a challenge, which I think can be surpassed with a few hours of use. Sometimes I struggle with threshold-less compressors (LA2A, 1176, etc) and if it wasn’t for the calibration knob I’d probably have problems with the u73b as well. The calibration knob made it a lot more manageable in my experience and allowed me to dial a setting with a good level of precision. One thing that takes a bit from the u73b’s ease of use is that it’s a relatively taxing plug-in in terms of CPU consumption, especially when oversampling is deployed. Considering that it’s not something one would spread across many tracks on a mix it’s fair to say that this isn’t a major issue, but it’s something to be considered nevertheless. Last but not least, having english as the interface language will definitely a lot of users (myself included).
Features: This is not exactly a complex compressor or a feature-rich plug-in. The current feature set is good for most tasks but I definitely miss a a dry/wet (or mix) control and more filter options on the sidechain. Those two features would add a lot in terms of flexibility. Level information displayed could also be improved with a slightly bigger meter, the current one feels a bit too small for the size of the interface.
Bang for buck: The full price is not exactly cheap and super affordable, but it’s sensibly priced when compared to the upper shelf of the plug-in market.
Recommended for: mixing engineers who are fans of this particular compressor topology and/or anyone bored with the current choices.