“Analog” Summing with Logic Pro X’s Compressor
New-York based producer and engineer Chris Vandeviver at Brass Palace Recording recently sent me a guest post and accompanying Youtube video tutorial about how to emulate the effect of analog summing using Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin.
She’s all yours, Chris!
“Analog” Summing with Logic Pro X’s Compressor Plugin
It’s no secret that getting that analog sound is all the rage in the digital audio world these days. Slate Digital, Universal Audio, Waves and other third-party audio plugin developers all are happy to sell you the promise to fix your lifeless digital audio with analog “vibe” and “warmth.”
But lo and behold, Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin comes with several shades of analog distortion.
Not just one, but six emulations of the most sought after outboard compressor/limiters.
Logic Pro X’s Compressor: Distortion – Reloaded
For a stock plugin, Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin is pretty stacked.
There are seven compressor emulations to choose from, most of which model coveted recording studio pieces.
Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin can emulate the following hardware:
- Studio VCA: Which models a Focusrite Red-Series compressor
- Studio FET: Which models a “blackface” 1176 compressor
- Classic VCA: Which models a DBX 160 compressor
- Vintage VCA: Which models an SSL compressor
- Vintage FET: Which models a “silverface” 1176 compressor
- Vintage Opto: Which models an LA2A compressor
What’s more, each Compressor offers different degrees of harmonic saturation. In Compressor’s case, it’s labeled as “Distortion.”
You can choose from either:
Each setting will result in different amounts of added harmonic distortion.
The Platinum Digital compressor is Apple’s own version of a compressor. It adds no inherent harmonic distortion as it’s a purely digital compressor. So for this article it’s been omitted.
The Days of Analog
In the days of analog, mix engineers loved hardware like the 1176 and LA2A. But it wasn’t just for the hardware units’ ability to compress. By running a track through each unit without compressing, something happened. These hardware compressors had a sound of their own. Each unit added harmonic distortion to tracks, which added analog life and vibe. Analog warmth is why some mix engineers still won’t ditch their analog mixing console. And it’s why plugin developers have developed plugins to emulate the hardware.
The idea of analog summing is for each of the tracks in your session to “sum” together using analog outboard or plugins. For example, Slate Digital’s Virtual Console Collection would be instantiated on each of your tracks and your Stereo Output. The VCC emulates the saturation of an analog console across your whole session. Dangerous Music is a hardware company that has built its business on outboard summing mixers. In the case of something like their 2-Bus, you’d route your instrument groups to your audio interface’s outputs, and run them into the 2-Bus. From there you’d send the 2-Bus outputs to your audio interface’s inputs and record the results in Logic Pro.
Video – “Analog” Summing with Logic Pro X’s Compressor
In the video below, I mimic Slate Digital’s Virtual Console Collection concept of analog summing in the digital domain. By adding Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin to instrument groups and the stereo output with distortion set to “on,” you can get a similar effect.
To do as I did in the video, start by placing a row of the same Compressor model on each instrument group and the stereo output. Highlight all your aux buses by Command-clicking each. Now you can compare the sum of your Compressors by turning them on and off. Simply click one of the Compressor’s Power Buttons while each bus is highlighted in the Mixer.
Want to hear which compression model sounds best?
Just instantiate the second row with a different model.
Now you can A/B between the two to find your favorite flavor of saturation.
To emulate the effect of analog summing using Logic Pro X’s Compressor plugin:
- Insert the Compressor plugin on each major instrument group in your project.
- Insert Compressor on your Stereo Output.
- Set each Compressor to the same model.
- Set each Compressor’s Ratio to 1:1
- Set each Compressor’s Threshold to 0.
- Set each Compressor’s Distortion to Soft.
Remember, your goal is for each Compressor to add harmonic vibe to your mix.
You don’t want them to compress necessarily, unless of course, you do.
Chris Vandeviver is a diehard Logic Pro user and New-York based producer and engineer. His studio and blog, Brass Palace Recording, offers more insights for getting better mixes.