Featured WesAudio _Dione by Dowsed
Wes Audio – Dione Compressor
Processor: Mix Bus Compressor
Manufacturer: Wes Audio
Price: 999 euro + VAT
Website: Wes Audio
Wes Audio has been making audio equipment since 2010. Firstly with purely analogue equipment, but since 2013 they started to design analogue recording equipment with digital control and recall facilities. The Dione bus compressor is part of the latter side of their product line designed to fit the API 500 series chassis or their own proprietary titan chassis.
The Dione is essentially a mix buss compressor based on the famed SSL mix bus compressor and this particular style of compressor is one of the most widely copied in the Pro Audio industry. So, on the surface of things, yet another SSL style mix bus compressor might not appeal to you, it certainly didn’t to me. In my own studio I already had many options for kind of task, both hardware and software. Adding one more didn’t really feel like an investment my studio needed at the current time. Sure, the digital recall via USB was appealing but due to the smaller amount of parameters and the fact I usually end up using very similar settings this seemed cool but perhaps a little bit gimmicky to what I really needed. What came next shocked me and it is certainly the fullest and fastest 180 flip in my opinion, I’ve done on any Pro Audio product. I went from a Dione skeptic to disciple within seconds of plugging it in.
After inserting the Dione in my 500 series chassis for the first time its aesthetics immediately impressed me, it shone like a Christmas tree and when installing the software, it flashed the firmware and it flashed in a hypnotic way reminiscent of a vegas slot machine, the Dione is as pleasing as they come. It features a beautifully designed and ergonomically sensible front panel, high quality and brilliantly placed needled gain reduction meter. To add to this it also features touch sensitive encoders, lovely LED setting meters and a mini USB slot on the front for its plug-in control features. The GUI for the plug-in itself is a mirror of the front panel and is a suitably high resolution.
Feature wise the core elements of the Dione show that it owes a lot to the SSL, it offers the same attack, release and ratio settings as the original (bar the extremely useful 1.5 ratio setting). However, the Dione offers way more than that it features a mix knob for parallel compression, a side chain filter and my personal favourite THD (total harmonic distortion) button switchable between off, medium (1%) or high (3%) settings.
Sound wise the Dione flexes its SSL like muscles too, engaging the compression gave me all the heft, glue and excitement you would come to expect of an SSL style compressor. As I’ve previously mentioned I own several SSL style compressors at a similar price point or cheaper and sonically the Dione beat all of them, hands down. In fact, quality wise it is right up there with an original or the Al Smart variants. After having a look at the key components, the superb sound quality shouldn’t be surprising, gain reduction and make-up gain centres around the hugely popular That Sound VCA chips, I recently upgraded my recording console to That Sounds and the different was indeed significant.
So far so good, but its really the extra features which take the Dione from a great option for a mixbus compressor to arguably my first choice mix bus compressor:
• The THD button is outstanding and flexible, it sounds so good it is probably going to always stay on, but at the same time it doesn’t change the feel or tonality so much to have to “mix through it”. Instead I tend to get the mix as good as I can and then turn it on to turbo charge the mix. I haven’t yet found a mix where it doesn’t sound better, its just a question of whether the medium or high setting is what is needed to get the job done.
• The side chain filter too is excellent and whilst many SSL style bus compressors offer side chain features, the rather less standard tilt filters come in very handy and are reminiscent of the much loved API 2500s tone filters.
• The mix knob allows wet/dry control for parallel compression which I’ve found comes particularly handy when used as a drum bus compressor
• Finally the fact that the plug-in is automatable has been revolutionary and its been great for dialing compression in songs with extreme macro dynamic changes. It also has been useful to extenuate the “scene-changes” in the music at the mix bus stage.
Controlling the unit via the hardware or software is a doddle, and it doesn’t matter if you are controlling the Dione using the plug-in or the encoders/buttons on the hardware the parameters on the plug-in follows suit quickly and accurately and vice-versa. It is also extremely stable, it hasn’t crashed at all in the couple of weeks I’ve had the unit, despite using extensive automation on a couple of tunes.
All in all The Dione leaves me with a predicament, how can I make the review balanced when I have nothing negative to say about it? The last review of a product I liked this much got criticized for being too positive and the last thing I want is for people to be skeptical of Wes Audio. I’ve been racking my brain for a long time to try and find some constructive criticisms and it has been very difficult to find anything. So if I was to nitpick, I would say that it would be nice to have a racked version option which didn’t require a 500 series or titan chassis. Then again this would certainly mean that it lost some of its economic competitiveness and put it in a price-point, similar to an original SSL compressor or the immensely popular Al Smart. We have a term here in England “put your money where your mouth is” and as I write this I have put one of my other SSL style comps up for sale, which should partly fund the purchase of a Dione for my studio.
At this point it also worth mentioning the Titan chassis system because if you want to buy several of their recallable products and fit them in their Titan rack you can control all of the processors via a single USB connection, how neat! What is also cool is that this system is open source and I hope that we will see more manufactures develop for it.
Sound Quality (5/5)
Top quality sound, which sounds just like an SSL comp, however, used in combination with the tilt filters and THD can even surpass what a more traditional SSL comp can do.
Ease of use (5/5)
Want to control it via the plug-in, sure, want to control it via the hardware, no problem. All the controls are well placed, well labeled and the compression sounds as great on a subtle 1.5 ratio as it does set to stun.
DAW control, automatable, THD, tilt filters, mix knob, extra ratio (1.5:1) this is a compressor with a difference.
Bang for buck (5/5)
Sounds as good as the original and top competitors and cheaper than the majority of competitors. Add the extra features and DAW control and this has to complete the clean sweep of 5 stars.