Do McDSP rack extensions (EQ / compressors) really work as they advertise?

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moggadeet
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Post 15 Oct 2018

Hello there,

I am relatively new to producing, mixing and generally to sound engineering but after finding this video in the facebook group I took on myself to learn about how do my sound-coloring rack extensions work and what possibilities I have at my disposal.



In the last sale I bought the Mix & Master bundle #3 and with it came six rack extensions from McDSP: three compressors and three EQs as if they were pairs, with similar colors and layouts. I went through them in my Ask video tutorials that I got with the bundle, but could not get the hang of them in a reasonable amount of dedicated time, so I do not use them in my work. The important thing is some of them claim to add "warmth" or "color the sound nicely".

Well tonight I took time to test them and by any means I cannot get any sound coloration out of any of them, no matter how hard I drive the input into them or how hard I drive the output stage.
The E670, like the C670 compressor, is ideal for master buss tracks and instrument groups. Gentle equalization curves impart just the right amount of tone tweak. Vintage output staging colors tracks nicely, without muddying up your mix.
Image
A gentle compression response, styled after popular modern tube-based equipment, the Moo Tube imparts a subtle warm tone change while its compression action rides the input signal levels to perfection.
Image

Could someone please enlight me?
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Last edited by moggadeet on 16 Oct 2018, edited 2 times in total.

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Loque
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Post 15 Oct 2018

I am just thinking if i ever heard a tone change on any of my compressors? Here and there i hear different management of different frequency. And of course they have different attack and release curves. All that changes the sound and therefore the tone. Nothing I would call coloring, because it is so subtle, but well...

I can confirm that C670 is a good bus compressor, FRG for instruments and drum bus, for Moo i didn't find a good use.

The EQs are good, i like the Moo on bass which has a good clean fulll tone.

If you like, try MClass, McDSP, Pulverizer and Scream4 side by side and try to hear differences for yourself. Take your time, compressor listening/comparing needs training. If you don't hear a difference, you don't need to care.
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bpmorton
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Any clipped waveform will have more harmonic overtones. If you clip a sine wave it becomes a square wave with odd harmonics. So any time you push a signal through a compressor and the gain goes up you'll have some clipping.

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Djstarski
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Post 16 Oct 2018

I have done the same test on all the Mcdsp compressors in reason and i did not see or hear any changes in these three devices .
Last edited by Djstarski on 16 Oct 2018, edited 1 time in total.

TritoneAddiction
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Post 16 Oct 2018

I like the McDSP rack extensions, the compressors especially. But I use the EQs too.

Honestly I don't care what happens behind the scenes, if they color the sound or not. All I know is sometimes the "right" compressor/EQ just work for a particular sound.
But I do think the compressors treats frequencies differently. If that's the case then maybe looking at a sine wave isn't the best way to measure these things.

Let's not overthink this. If it works it works. That's how I look at it.

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Zac
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Post 16 Oct 2018

TritoneAddiction wrote:
16 Oct 2018
I like the McDSP rack extensions, the compressors especially. But I use the EQs too.

Honestly I don't care what happens behind the scenes, if they color the sound or not. All I know is sometimes the "right" compressor/EQ just work for a particular sound.
But I do think the compressors treats frequencies differently. If that's the case then maybe looking at a sine wave isn't the best way to measure these things.

Let's not overthink this. If it works it works. That's how I look at it.
One thing about the compressors... i just totally disagree with TritoneAddiction. For me the GR display is hard to believe. I hate the % scales. I can get them to sound ok but I'm never sure whether it's choice or accident.

I can see the reason for the original post ...

TritoneAddiction
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Zac wrote:
16 Oct 2018
TritoneAddiction wrote:
16 Oct 2018
I like the McDSP rack extensions, the compressors especially. But I use the EQs too.

Honestly I don't care what happens behind the scenes, if they color the sound or not. All I know is sometimes the "right" compressor/EQ just work for a particular sound.
But I do think the compressors treats frequencies differently. If that's the case then maybe looking at a sine wave isn't the best way to measure these things.

Let's not overthink this. If it works it works. That's how I look at it.
One thing about the compressors... i just totally disagree with TritoneAddiction. For me the GR display is hard to believe. I hate the % scales. I can get them to sound ok but I'm never sure whether it's choice or accident.

I can see the reason for the original post ...
I'm not sure we disagree that much to be honest. In fact there's probably a good point to this thread. I was just trying to express the way I look at it, which is admittedly pretty dumb. I don't care at all about the "science" behind it, if the % scale is correct or anything like that. Maybe the differences is all in my head. That's ok. I know my way of looking at this is very illogical. I never bring logic to music making, even when one could. For me if it feels right, then it is right. All I care about is the results I get and that I like working with a RE. That's all I was trying to say.

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Zac
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Post 16 Oct 2018

TritoneAddiction wrote:
16 Oct 2018
Zac wrote:
16 Oct 2018


One thing about the compressors... i just totally disagree with TritoneAddiction. For me the GR display is hard to believe. I hate the % scales. I can get them to sound ok but I'm never sure whether it's choice or accident.

I can see the reason for the original post ...
I'm not sure we disagree that much to be honest. In fact there's probably a good point to this thread. I was just trying to express the way I look at it, which is admittedly pretty dumb. I don't care at all about the "science" behind it, if the % scale is correct or anything like that. Maybe the differences is all in my head. That's ok. I know my way of looking at this is very illogical. I never bring logic to music making, even when one could. For me if it feels right, then it is right. All I care about is the results I get and that I like working with a RE. That's all I was trying to say.
Ok you're making me feel bad now. I didn't mean to criticise your opinion. I guess i don't find they respond as i expect with respect to their knob values abd meters. Like say i do find sweet spots but i just wish things happened more expectedly. They should really, shouldn't they? Especially on simple fx like comps?

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Kalm
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Post 16 Oct 2018

As far as coloring, I've never known a compressor to truly affect the harmonic content of a signal unless the signal is dynamically reduced so much it causes distortion. In this nature the result you get whether a gritty or digital massacre IS your coloration due to overdriving a compressor past its means or intended purpose.

As far as adding harmonic content, no digital compressor would do that unless the creator decided to add excitement/harmonic control depending on some sort of drive control that works alongside compression. Normally this would be a DRIVE parameter instead of INPUT.

Other than that, your "color" is the response of the compressor. Even though you set similar attack, release, threshold, ratio etc. settings on each compressor, your result will end up different due to how compressors detect, feedback/forward, recover, and ultimately reshape the envelope of a signal.

Btw, I'm a lover over the MooTube
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TritoneAddiction
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Post 16 Oct 2018

Zac wrote:
16 Oct 2018
TritoneAddiction wrote:
16 Oct 2018

I'm not sure we disagree that much to be honest. In fact there's probably a good point to this thread. I was just trying to express the way I look at it, which is admittedly pretty dumb. I don't care at all about the "science" behind it, if the % scale is correct or anything like that. Maybe the differences is all in my head. That's ok. I know my way of looking at this is very illogical. I never bring logic to music making, even when one could. For me if it feels right, then it is right. All I care about is the results I get and that I like working with a RE. That's all I was trying to say.
Ok you're making me feel bad now. I didn't mean to criticise your opinion. I guess i don't find they respond as i expect with respect to their knob values abd meters. Like say i do find sweet spots but i just wish things happened more expectedly. They should really, shouldn't they? Especially on simple fx like comps?
No worries :)
Yeah you're probably right. I haven't looked into whether the knob values are correct or not, but it certainly would be better if they were.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 16 Oct 2018

the McDSP compressors are 100% clean, no saturation. so only dynamic compression, nothing else.

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moggadeet
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Post 17 Oct 2018

Marco Raaphorst wrote:
16 Oct 2018
the McDSP compressors are 100% clean, no saturation. so only dynamic compression, nothing else.
That seems to be the case too, but then if you read the description of their EQ and compressor REs you can read: "Vintage output staging colors tracks nicely" and "imparts a subtle warm tone change", which is shown to be not the case. I can cope with their compressors and EQs not adding color, which might even be better depending on what you want to use them for. What I do not accept is being cheated in the product description with buzzwords and promised algorithms that do not exist in reality.

I wrote this information in a support ticket in the Propellerheads web: for me it is not acceptable that they have products in their refill shop that cheat their buyers so brashly. In my understanding any company might want to sell their products using deceptive advertising, but it is the job of Propellerheads, if not to check the facts themselves, at least to investigate if the customers detect such cases like this with McDSP and force them to remove such claims in their EQ and compressor product description.

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selig
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Post 17 Oct 2018

OK, gonna go to the other side of the question here and say ALL compressors add color/harmonics.

But first, the answer will depending on how you define “color”, which is generally considered to be any tonal change to the original sound.

A compressor, by definition, changes the waveform. If you change a waveform, you change the sound. And when you change the sound, you can say that you are “coloring” the sound.

Or you can use a different word other than “color” to describe the change, but it’s still a change.


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selig
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Post 17 Oct 2018

moggadeet wrote:
Marco Raaphorst wrote:
16 Oct 2018
the McDSP compressors are 100% clean, no saturation. so only dynamic compression, nothing else.
That seems to be the case too, but then if you read the description of their EQ and compressor REs you can read: "Vintage output staging colors tracks nicely" and "imparts a subtle warm tone change", which is shown to be not the case. I can cope with their compressors and EQs not adding color, which might even be better depending on what you want to use them for. What I do not accept is being cheated in the product description with buzzwords and promised algorithms that do not exist in reality.

I wrote this information in a support ticket in the Propellerheads web: for me it is not acceptable that they have products in their refill shop that cheat their buyers so brashly. In my understanding any company might want to sell their products using deceptive advertising, but it is the job of Propellerheads, if not to check the facts themselves, at least to investigate if the customers detect such cases like this with McDSP and force them to remove such claims in their EQ and compressor product description.
Just because it’s not saturating doesn’t mean it’s not coloring the sound. Any change will color the sound, and in the case of the McDSP compressors it’s possible there is a subtle EQ curve added to the device that does indeed color the sound.

This is the case with the EQs, and IIRC also with the compressors. I’m not at my studio today (at the AES show in NYC), so I can’t check. But I may have to stop by the McDSP booth and see if I can get any more “direct” response to this question! ;)

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Loque
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Post 17 Oct 2018

selig wrote:
17 Oct 2018
... But I may have to stop by the McDSP booth and see if I can get any more “direct” response to this question! ;)
:thumbs_up:
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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 17 Oct 2018

moggadeet wrote:
17 Oct 2018
Marco Raaphorst wrote:
16 Oct 2018
the McDSP compressors are 100% clean, no saturation. so only dynamic compression, nothing else.
That seems to be the case too, but then if you read the description of their EQ and compressor REs you can read: "Vintage output staging colors tracks nicely" and "imparts a subtle warm tone change", which is shown to be not the case. I can cope with their compressors and EQs not adding color, which might even be better depending on what you want to use them for. What I do not accept is being cheated in the product description with buzzwords and promised algorithms that do not exist in reality.

I wrote this information in a support ticket in the Propellerheads web: for me it is not acceptable that they have products in their refill shop that cheat their buyers so brashly. In my understanding any company might want to sell their products using deceptive advertising, but it is the job of Propellerheads, if not to check the facts themselves, at least to investigate if the customers detect such cases like this with McDSP and force them to remove such claims in their EQ and compressor product description.
the MOO compressor don't saturate. are not analoge imitations in that respect. the RE-2A compressor on the other hand does saturate. but it's from Cakewalk (dead).

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selig
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Post 17 Oct 2018

Loque wrote:
selig wrote:
17 Oct 2018
... But I may have to stop by the McDSP booth and see if I can get any more “direct” response to this question! ;)
:thumbs_up:
Sadly, no McDSP at AES this year. :(

It’s always interesting to see who DOES participate. For example FL studio has a tiny booth here, Avid is huge, but that’s pretty much it on the DAW front.


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moggadeet
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Post 17 Oct 2018

Well thanks anyway for trying it. I will check the rest of them and check for EQ curves in the compressors in the next days maybe.

Ostermilk
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Post 17 Oct 2018

'A subtle warm tone change' could be said of any EQ or audio device tone control used sparingly, it doesn't infer saturation or added harmonics. I don't use the McDSP EQ's as I prefer, or rather am more used to using Neve style EQ's for any console style EQing (swift, broad strokes) aside from the SSL channel EQ. I do like the Compressors though as they all bring something different to the table.

As has been mentioned the compressors do their thing and are distinct from one another and therefore offer different choices for different dynamic control scenario's.

If you are after different saturation effects it would be more effective to use something specifically designed for that job in tandem with the rest of your signal chain.

The exception for that for me has turned out to be Selig's coloring EQ which allows for targeted frequency bands for saturation (odd/even harmonics or anything in between). Before that device became available I used to use an old 32 bit plugin called Ferric TDS from variety of sound to provide a false tape style analogue ceiling level which used to (and still does) work quite well, by providing greater tape style saturation and compression toward the top of it's operating range in a non-linear way much like tape would. Saturation in this case means exactly that, the tape or analog signal cannot be further excited to generate any greater level than the physical ceiling so progressive distortion and compression artifacts are the result.

With digital this doesn't happen, providing we don't clip at the output stage (which invariably sounds nasty). so we are free to colorize sound in pretty much any way we want, including in a creative way if you get over the myth that vintage gear holds some special solution, when anyone that was around during this 'golden' period would have given anything to get rid of the limitations, noises, buzzing, distortion and hiss that is inevitable from analog gear. Now all we have to do is add nice colour to dirty our whites when the mood strikes.

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selig
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Post 17 Oct 2018

OK, got home from the AES convention and had a chance to do a quick test of the three McDSP compressors (already did the EQs in another thread).
Like the EQs (but more subtle), for two of the three compressors the frequency response is indeed "colored" to give each compressor a "sound".
Note the range for the frequency plots is 1dB TOTAL!

With the test sweep set to -0dBFS and the threshold raised so no compression is triggered:
C-670 us yellow, FRG is green, Moo is blue:
Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 2.52.32 PM.png
You can see a VERY slight EQ curve on the first two compressors, but not on the "Moo". This can definitely result in a slight "coloration" of the sound, but it's so subtle (and not on all three) that I'm not surprised no one really experiences this as "color".

Same for distortion measurements, which are all below 100 Hz and at 20 Hz they max out at 0.02% harmonic distortion - again, nothing you'll likely hear, especially on sources with little to no low end energy.
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moggadeet
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Post 03 May 2019

Very interesting, thanks! With which software did you extract these Bode plots and THD measurement?

Mataya
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Post 03 May 2019

Hi,

I'm not sure if it's "color" I like or whatever you would call it, but this c-670 just works great with anything I throw at him. And I don't really know why. I think it's emulates some characteristics of the Fairchild comp...so I don't know, maybe I just like Fairchild way of compressing. I just started using it as a vst on a dialogue in post production and it works amazing.

reggie1979
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Post 04 May 2019

I know this is an older thread bumped but the 670 seems to be about the best kick compressor I've ever used. Good for other things too.

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 13 Feb 2021

Has anyone run them through plugindoctor? I don't have them send used up my trial. The free version of plugindoctor can load RRP and it could be easily tested whether there's any harmonics or EQ curve on these.
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moggadeet
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Post 13 Feb 2021

PhillipOrdonez wrote:
13 Feb 2021
Has anyone run them through plugindoctor? I don't have them send used up my trial. The free version of plugindoctor can load RRP and it could be easily tested whether there's any harmonics or EQ curve on these.
Yes, I can do it now that I am on 11 Suite.

The three in series below, total harmonic distortion = -172dB
harmonics.png
So no saturation applied.

For the EQ curves of two of them,
MooEQ linear analysis.png
E670 EQ linear analysis.png
the green one is flat without dialing any EQ in.

For the compressors, they do not have any saturation added and this time:
* Green: -0.8dB at 3kHz
* Yellow: -0.3dB at 500Hz
* Cow: flat
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