Plugin Alliance has announced availability of 354E, Lindell Audio's multiband model of the vintage Neve 2254ETM diode bridge compressor, which they say carefully replicates its distinctive behavior and rich, creamy character. Here's their press release with all you need to know...
The original 2254 mono compressor/limiter design dates back to 1969, becoming a standard module in the company's classic 80 Series hard-wired analogue consoles. Its input stage is based around an input transformer followed by a diode bridge relying on the dynamic resistance of the diodes changing with current provided by control voltage to act as a level control element -- hence its distinctive behavior and rich, creamy character. Compression attack time is fixed, though the third major revision, the long-loved 2254E, allows for faster attack times. Today, though, thanks to Plugin Alliance partner Lindell Audio's tenacity, the 354E plugin pairs that vintage vibe with modern utility as a must-have multiband marvel -- modelling that famous vintage diode bridge compressor across each of its three (LOW, MID, HIGH) independent frequency bands with adjustable crossover frequency bands (for honing in on where compression is needed most).
Many more notable features abound and include: independent five-step RATIO -- ranges from 1.5:1 (for mastering and master-bus compression) through to 6:1 (for shaping individual tracks); switchable NUKE mode (for over-compressing tracks to dramatic effect); LINK (Mid-Side) mode (for focusing compression on mid or side channel -- or in stereo -- for surgical precision); SIDECHAIN/HPF (to lend greater punch to compressed drums, bass guitar, and other bass-heavy instruments); switchable NIVEAU filter (for tilting SIDECHAIN/HPF frequency response towards bass energy preservation -- perfect for achieving an awesome API® 'thrust' compression effect); MIX control (to promptly provide parallel processing -- perfect for blending radically compressed signal with pristine dry input when working with drums, adding density to rock guitars, and more); M/S (link) and SOLO for each frequency band; adjustable, wide-ranging ATTACK and RECOVERY (release) controls ranging from a blazing-fast two-millionths of a second attack time (for radical compression) to AUTO release (for artefact-free processing); optional AUTO makeup GAIN for each band; two-way dB meter (displays I/O and gain reduction levels in turn -- internal operating levels can be calibrated in nine 1dB steps for precise mastering applications); and resizable user interface and up to 16x oversampling for digital precision in any environment. All add up to a creative compressor/limiter experience quite unlike any other... one of the fastest compressors, capable of shaping sounds in extreme ways with which most contemporaries cannot compete.
Creatively speaking, 354E is, in practical terms, two compressors in one -- a colorful, vintage-sounding paintbrush-like plugin, perfectly suited to both mastering and mixing applications alike. As such, turning on NUKE mode makes radically reshaping individual tracks a joy to behold; but, conversely, turning it off allows for lighter, more nuanced compression when mastering or when more surgical mixing is needed. Needless to say, both ways of working yield the same lush coloration and smooth presence that made the 2254E one of the most revered and highly-sought-after compressors in the world. Which is why the 354E is so suited to compressing drums, electric guitars, and rock vocals as one of the premier plugins for the task at hand.
Hitting that NUKE button is akin to throwing TNT on drum room mics! Make room ambience explode and drums pump like a jackhammer! Use the built- in filters to shield bass frequencies from compression, inflating the kick drum in the room mics to a heavy monster sound, then adjust the three bands' RATIO and GAIN controls to balance hi-hat and cymbal levels with that of the trap drums for the perfect blend. Better still, the NIVEAU filter and NUKE mode are also tickets to making thin-sounding floor and rack toms thunder with deep, long sustain, and rock vocals hyperventilate with urgency. As a go-to guitar-track-shaper, 354E's multiband controls and filters can compress the bottom and top strings' output to different degrees to boost chunky, palm-muted bass notes or blazing, high chords to the front of the mix. Major compression adds intensely colorful character, though the MIX control can dial some pristine dry signal back into 354E's output for beautifully balanced mayhem and detail.
Digging deeper, 354E takes on the highly-nuanced behavior befitting master-bus compression and mastering when waving goodbye to NUKE mode. Milder by its very nature, the 1.5:1 RATIO setting solidifies mixes with a glue-like quality, while switching in the NIVEAU filter brings punch, fullness, and weight to the bottom end of the thinnest of mixes. More musically satisfying, maybe, M/S mode can compress hard-panned guitars without affecting the kick drum, bass, and lead vocals, while with A > B workspaces users can compare alternative control setups in pursuit of production perfection.
Put it this way: whether using it to super-size individual tracks, add density to full mixes, or apply subtle surgical compression to correct imbalanced masters, 354E has what it takes to paint a picture-perfect colorful vintage sound. So is it any wonder, then, that Tom Holkenberg (a.k.a. Junkie XL) -- one of Hollywood's top and most unique composers with an expansive and expensive studio setup that lives up to the stage name with which he originally made a name for himself in the burgeoning US rave scene -- was blown away by it?
Legal Disclaimer: Neve and 2254E are registered trademarks of AMS/Neve Inc. 354E was developed by Lindell Audio based on its own modelling techniques. AMS/Neve has not endorsed or sponsored 354E in any manner, or licensed any intellectual property for use in this product.
Pricing and Availability: 354E is available for purchase as an AAX Native-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting plugin for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) from Plugin Alliance and select VSSD (Virtual Stock Software Distribution) retailers for a time-limited introductory promo price of $129.00 USD, rising to $199.00 USD thereafter. (Note that owners of 254E qualify for a special introductory price of $79.00 USD via an email voucher valid throughout April 2017.)