PSPaudioware oldTimerME Review

Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Michael Cooper

VINTAGE-STYLE COMPRESSOR PLUG-IN GETS A MASTERING MAKEOVER

Polls


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TO THE TEST
Slapped on stereo drum room mics, old TimerME sounded excellent. Heavy compression with very fast attack and release times made the room tone pump beautifully. The punchiest sounds were produced by setting the valve reference-level control to its lowest setting or using the Clear setting.

A 4:1 ratio, Clear mode, and moderate attack and release times sounded outstanding on a stereo track for strummed acoustic guitar, producing an open and detailed sound. I also tried using very fast attack and release times on this track, with mixed success. On the plus side, the compression curve sounded similar to that produced by an SSL Bus Compressor. As I increased the compression depth just barely to the point where the track began to pump, oldTimerME moved the guitar track to the front of the mix and made it sound very aggressive and huge. But on the down side, the fast attack and release times also produced audible distortion.

Male rock vocals sounded great using parallel compression with moderate attack and release times. I compressed the vocal fairly heavily, dialed in a fair amount of pleasing tube-like saturation and then nudged the plug-in’s dry output up a tad to restore definition. I got great results on electric guitar and bass tracks using similar settings.

oldTimerME also gave very good results mastering a Southern-rock mix, but it took some effort. On the mid channel, I dialed in moderate attack and release times, 1.3:1 ratio and 250Hz setting for the sidechain filter. That created a nice “thrust compression” effect that pumped up kick, snare and vocals while keeping the bottom end rockin’. Light compression with very slow attack and release times on the side channel made hard-panned electric guitars and drum room mics sound stronger and more “glued” in the mix. So far, so good.

But after my initial settings exceeded my DAW’s headroom, I lamented that I couldn’t link the mid and side makeup-gain controls to lower the overall output while preserving my carefully wrought mid-side balance. The lack of output-level meters also made me work harder to keep levels under control. Muting all outputs (wet and dry) except that for the side channel’s wet signal allowed me to, in effect, solo the side channel; a similar tack allowed me to solo the mid channel. But I missed the convenience of having dedicated solo buttons in a single GUI integrating both mid and side channels. (The higher-end mastering processors also allow you to quickly solo the left or right channel.) I also couldn’t save combined mid and side setups into a single preset.

STILL, IT'S A BARGAIN
oldTimerME wins very high marks for its convincing tube-emulation processing and the sheer variety of compression curves it makes available. The plug-in’s somewhat kludgey implementation of M/S and dual-mono processing might dissuade time-pressured pros from using it for mastering, despite its euphonic sound quality. But oldTimerME’s vintage vibe, excellent sidechain, user-friendly parallel-compression and shape-shifting character make it a versatile and musical processor for any mix engineer, no matter his or her level of experience. And you can’t beat the price!

OLDTIMERME'S MINI-ME
When you want oldTimerME’s vintage vibe but need to work very quickly, the included oldTimer is the plug-in to grab. The legacy plug-in provides mono and stereo operation in a simple, stripped-down GUI. oldTimer has no facilities for sidechaining, parallel compression or M/S processing. Attack and release times are set simultaneously using one control, and there are fewer compression ratios available than with the ME version of the plug-in. But for dialing in terrific-sounding compression at the speed of a cheetah, oldTimer is king of the jungle.


Mix contributing editor Michael Cooper is the owner of Michael Cooper Recording in Sisters, Ore.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the PSPaudioware oldTimerME product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the PSPaudioware oldTimerME product page.






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