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Bettermaker Mastering Compressor

Bettermaker mastering compressor – Your Mastering VCA Compressor !!

Bettermaker mastering compressor is a VCA compressor born in Warsaw in 2020, in Poland made by Bettermaker. It's a product that did not have the hype that Bettermaker had managed to get from the previous marketed product like the Bettermaker Mastering Limiter, mainly due to the pandemic which certainly slowed down its marketing and testing.

It's a very versatile compressor, usable both in the Mastering and in Mixing (below you will find a detailed explanation of the various modes of use). The infinite potential behind any Bettermaker product is the possibility of integrating the machine with the proprietary plug-in , which acts as a control for every single parameter of the machine. The decidedly more interesting aspect connected to the USB connection (always stable both with Mac and PC) is the possibility to load the plug-in in your DAW when using the compressor and once the session is over, through the saving the project, also save all the compressor parameters. When the project is reopened, the plug-in will connect to the machine and the latter will automatically return to the same parameters set in the project. Obviously the use of the machine plug-in in a project can only take place for a single instance as two instances would create problems in the communication between hardware and software.

However, there is the possibility, for those who use Reaper, to request a script developed by an Engineer. This script allows you to use multiple instances of the same plug in for different tracks (very useful when Mastering entire albums). The parameters will vary according to the Timeline. You can contact the engineer by referring to this video found on Youtube.

So all this to talk about the plug in and its integration with the machine? Yes, because the hardware revolution is here, and certainly other Companies will follow it in the coming years (some already do). This machine saves a lot of time, and for a Mastering Engineer time is money, and money also for your customers, who won't have to charge the recall cost of an entire master. However, the machine always maintains the possibility of being used via the large LCD touch screen and the 5 Knobs positioned on the sides of the screen. Everything turns out to be very intuitive and probably many of you will still prefer to use it like this, but remember to load the plug in the session, so it will automatically save the parameters for the re-call, even using it physically !!

I have gone on too long, but on the plus side I think I have at least given you a broad outline the functionality of the plug-in. The technical specifications can be found all at this link of the manufacturer.

Now I will tell you about how you can use your Bettermaker Mastering Compressor . This compressor is truly versatile. You can use your compressor choosing one of the three modes of use: the BM, the SG, and the DX Each of these modes has parameters that can be modified as needed, but each is created for a specific function.

The BM Mode

The so-called Bettermaker mode, the mode with the widest possibility of customization. Transparency is everything and this compressor in Mastering, where the compression is never burdensome manages to work at its best capturing transients, modeling the signal with delicacy. A right companion useful for any Mastering room.

  • Threshold: -35dB / +5dB (40dB range)

  • Attack: From 5 to 250 ms

  • Release: From 10 to 800 ms and AUTO R

  • Ratio: 4 default preset 1.5:1 - 2:1 - 4:1 with Manual Ratio you can assign a value from 0.7:1 (expander) to 10:1.

  • Knee: Variable from 0 to 20 dB

  • Output: -5 dB / +15 dB

  • Distortion given by VCA and Clip ODD / EVEN always activated and manageable.

The SG Mode

The emulation mode of the historical SSL Bus Compressor. A mode that hardly emulates the tone of SSL, deviating greatly from the latter. It has its own character which over time is greatly appreciated especially in mixes of Hip Hop and Trap Electronics and genres that require a presence (in general) of low frequencies. This compression mode makes the mid-low frequency section well defined and full-bodied, making everything well homogenized without affecting the transparency, which always remains the trump card of this compressor. The configurable parameters in this case are similar to SSL.

  • Attack: From 0.1 to 60 ms

  • Release: From 10 to 2000 ms

  • Ratio: 1,5:1 - 2:1 - 4:1

  • Knee: Not modifiable

  • Output: From -5 dB to +15 dB

  • Distortion given by VCA and Clip ODD / EVEN always activated and manageable.

The DX Mode

This Mode, as many of you will have understood, refers to another historical compressor. Here the freedom of customization is limited to the parameters that you will find below in the image. I used this mode on Drums and Bass and the compressor is always very transparent hovewer tend to give a nice body to the sound.

  • Attack: Default 40 ms

  • Release: Default 100 ms

  • Ratio : 1.5:1 - 2:1 - 4:1

  • Output : From -5 dB to +15 dB

  • Distortion given by VCA and Clip ODD / EVEN always activated and manageable.

Let's go into the parameters that we find in the main screen of our Bettermaker. Next to the hardware screen you will find the control screen via plug-in.

Let's start with the BASIC section

On the left side we find the input signal level to our compressor, the RMS in green and the peak of our signal in white. The Bettermaker takes up the idea of ​​A / B that we find in many modern plug - ins, that is the possibility of using a preset and in fly mode making an evaluation using other parameters, simply by clicking on the button at the top left Hold for A -> B. Knob P5 lets you copy setting A to B.

N.B. the compressor remembers only the last preset used when you recall the project, so either A or B.

Next to the section mentioned above we find HPF with the possibility of applying a 24 dB / octave filter before to the compression process at 15 Hz, 20 Hz, 25 Hz and 30 Hz.

Let's move on to the selection of the use of our compressor, this can operate in STEREO, M / S with the possibility of autofocus (listening only to the MID section or only the SIDE section) and DUAL MONO.

In STEREO MODE the parameters are all linked for the Left & Right channel.

Below we find the modes explained above BM, SG and DX, the relative usable compression ratios, attack, release, the MIX section (which allows you to use the compressor in parallel), the Width (configurable in the extended section) and the Output.

The Extended Section

As you will see from the photo, the screen varies by adding some parameters that were previously not configurable.

In P3 we find the GR RANGE, a very useful option in Mastering this in fact allows you to set the maximum compression limit or Gain Reduction that our compressor will have to apply to our input signal.

For example, by setting a GR of 2 dB, the compressor will never apply a compression over 2 dB to the signal, even going to significantly lower the Threshold.

In P4 we find the VCA THD, this is a distortion step given by the VCA integrated in the Bettermaker with the possibility of choosing the percentage of distortion that will intervene in our signal. The distortion that intervenes is not aggressive and very musical.

The last interesting section we find is the analog clipper section based on Zener Diodes.

The clip is activable after the VCA . It is possible to activate CLIP ODD, CLIP EVEN or both. Once activated, it will be possible to control and choose the DRIVE level (gain before the clipper section) and then compensate for this level via the OUTPUT of our compressor (gain after the clipper).

TIP I found that the distortion that occurs through the CLIP EVEN is particularly musical and beautiful. Even at high DRIVE values if compensated excellent results are obtained. The distortion that occurs with the CLIP ODD is more aggressive and definitely much more audible. However it turns out to be very useful in the medium-high frequencies in the case of use on Vocal guitars and organs.

The Sidechain Section

This section allows us to use our compressor as a band compressor or a de-esser. There is in fact the possibility of using three independent filters, an HPF, a parametric filter and an LPF. These can be used individually or all together.

There is also an Insert section, located in our compressor's operating diagram before the compressor's internal filters. Through the Listen function that we find at the top, we are able to listen to the Sidechain signal through our monitors. Through the focus section we could hear, depending on the dual mono or mid / side mode selected, respectively Left Right or Mid Side.

Last but not least the FORWARD AND BACKWARD function (Sidechain before or after the VCA). This affects the character of the compression. Forward compression has a more dynamic and impactful character, while with Backward compression we will be able to obtain a more refined and less impactful sound. At this point the Sidechain detector comes into play, that is how the compressor reacts according to the input signal. If this acts quickly at the input signal peaks, we will find ourselves in the PEAK mode, certainly more aggressive compression mode. If we would like a gentler compression instead, we can use the RMS mode, which will intervene at the generic level changes of the signal, rather than as a function of the peaks.

Thanks to all of you for reading our review.

Soon updates on other Bettermaker hardware, the Mastering Equalizer and the Mastering Limiter

For all those interested in having the tests carried out and other information, please contact me via the contact section accessible from here


Endless Mastering

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