“Weight, color, creamy dynamics”, oh my! Well, this is how UAD’s copywriter describes it (the “oh my” is mine). I don’t really object, after all it’s their job to sell product. But it perpetuates a certain silliness which really annoys me. (More about that below.) On to the UAD Neve 2254—
It’s worth a google on your part to take a look at the history of the Neve 80 series boards. Not the least of which is that Rupert Neve left the company in 1975 after he had sold it (and the name) in 1973. The Neve 2254 was first produced in 1969 (a year before the 1073!) and installed in the original Neve 80 series consoles.
The Neve 33609 was basically a stereo version of the 2254 issued later as a rack-mount. There were some improvements as the 2254 had evolved. Compare the UAD Neve 33609.
UAD’s emulation is super analogue-y sounding since they apparently modeled all the noise and harmonics in the original (using the schematics, according to them). They also modeled a 4+ dB increase you get just by having the compressor turned on, so be careful out there! The frequency response is basically flat. The mix control and HPF are nice and useable additions!
- If you go left to right, it looks like the limiter comes first in the processing chain. It doesn’t. Compressor first, then limiter.
- Turn the limiter and compressor off and get a clean analog sound with a few added harmonics. (See the chart.)
- To really hear what this is doing you need to increase the incoming signal above -18dB, so putting some kind of trim control in front of the Neve 2254 can be helpful. You can then lower the output levels.
This seems as good a place as any to go off on this, since the vocabulary in UAD’s description of this triggered me. Like I said, I have no problem with clever and enticing marketing. But when words/phrases such as “weight” and “color” and “creamy dynamics” are used it perpetuates a certain ambiguity and false expectation. (And let’s not forget “warmth!) What exactly is “creamy dynamics”? I assume they mean the compression and/or limiting is subtle. But do you want someone coming into your studio and asking why their vocal doesn’t have creamy dynamics?
I believe all this hyping makes it more difficult for people to properly learn how to use this stuff. How many times have you read something about a compressor adding depth or space to sound? “This really brought out a depth to the mix” or something similar as if the compressor has some magic space-making quality. Guess what, that’s part of what compression does. When you lower the transient it has the effect of bringing up the decay portion of the sound, which makes the reverb/space already in the sound louder. This is why if you compress the heck out of drums with a fast attack they sound so big and boomy (and depth-y!).
So no, I don’t mind advertising-speak. But don’t let it mess with our ability to understand what is really going on with the sound!