Softube Weiss DS1-MK3 by Jason rocks
The Weiss DS1-Mk3 is a mastering compressor and the hardware version costs the same of buying a nice used car. I only heard the hardware version years ago and was impressed with the subtle control it provided to a mix while it stays out of the way.
The Softube plug in version is not a model of the hardware like so many plug ins. Daniel Weiss worked with Softube and provided the actual codes so its the real thing. I found it best to read the manual which is very helpful. I found a good to start with some Bob Katz presets for a overall compressor on a song. The sub menus are easy to understand. You have the ability to control the input, output, limiter gain, and there is a separate make up gain. Bandwidth control and frequency changes options make it very flexible flexible compressor. Add the release fast, slow, and average and it does get a little confusing to work with. Then add parallel compression to boot, all the limiter options (the later two limiter options are better than the original), and I have not even mentioned the de-eser.
I like the sound of this compressor and its great for mastering of course. I can't think of any other compressor that offers this flexible. You may find you prefer another compressor plug in if your just doing attack, release, threshold, and ratio. But with all the extra features, you can control things, and adjust things like no other compressor. I found with the Bob Katz presets, you can get a nice smooth sound that brings instruments forward without hearing it change things to a mix that many other compressors do. The Elysia Alpha compressor plug in in comparison softens the top end more than this compressor.
Weiss MM1 maximizer is included with the purchase of the compressor. It has a smooth sound and I definitely like it better than the Waves L2 and of course its a lot more flexible. The Steinberg Maximizer in comparision has a Modern setting which is clearer and has more sparkle almost like a SSL type of sound. The Classic setting is closer to the MM1 transparent sound. But the MM1 offers transparent, loud, punch, wide, and dess settings whcih makes the MM1 more flexible and is very effective.
If your not familiar with this compressor which many are not, it will take weeks to really learn all the powerful things it can do to a mix, or to correct a high hat or vocal. My first impression is a very positive one. Though it has a high price tag for a plug in, your getting the DS1-Mk3 and MM1 as a bundle.
In using the DS1 Mk3 on a hard rocking song. It kept the integrity of the kick drum and low bass to be punchy and full, but at the same time it balanced the volume and kept it more even. The many presets help you get there quick. Just a little adjustment on the threshold and ratio and your good.
With this being a very transparent EQ, the ability to see the wave with a push of a button on the screen and how deep it is interacting (with the red on the screen) with the track I found very helpful. With low ratios, you can adjust the threshold and can dial it in to just hit the peaks and then with the bypass switch, A/B back and forth and hear the dynamics being affected.
It does take a while to get used to listening to a clean compressor but once you learn to focus on dynamics and not color it gets much easier. A singer who was in my studio heard no difference with the bypass button on or off. Then in about 5 min's he got it and was blown away. The polish, the moving forward of certain freq's, the tighter bass that is still very dynamic.
I also love the GUI as well, no issues with it. It forces you to mix with your ears more than your eyes like so many plug ins
I have Focal Twins in my studio and a Focal sub (which took a while to get the proper placement and volume level with my main monitors....all which I learned about from SOS) with GIK Acoustic Panels and Bass Traps. I have to be honest, unless your studio is treated with Acoustic Treatment and speakers that can translate low freq's properly, I don't see this plug in being very useful. With my Dangerous equipment and proper monitor placement, etc, I am able to make proper corrections to enhance the music. But without a setup of this level or higher, this compressor will be a challenge to use.
For those who want to take mixing and mastering seriously....even as a serious hobby, I would encourage you to get Bass Traps, panels, and upgrade your monitors so you can hear things properly. It makes your job a lot easier.
The DS1-Mk3 and MM1 maiximizer are professional mastering tools that would have costs over 7 thousand dollars to buy in the past. Now for a fraction of the cost, we can enjoy them in our project studios and they are worth it at least in my situation. The compressor is on par with many high end clean hardware compressors by Cranesong, DW Fern, Pendulum, and others though they all have their own personality.
Review includes many of Glenn Bucci's comments by permission.