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Abby Road Saturator Compander

Hi everyone!
I need some help with ‘Compander’ module on Abbe Road Saturator Plugin. After reading the plugin manual, online description, watching youtube videos about it, etc, I still don’t understand what it does and how it works.
Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great, i like using - it to adds a little bit of nice colour to the mix, but the controls are somehow counterintuitive for me and I think I could use it more effectively If i knew how it works.
Can anyone explain to me, how “crosover frequencies” work (switches with 80/160/380 and 750/1.5k/3k HZ values)?
In the manual they’re called “HI PASS AND LOW PASS FILTERS”, but from my experience working with them, changing ‘low pass’ from 3kHz to 1.5kHZ and than to 750Hz make the tone much brighter! And from what I understand, setting low-pass filter at lower frequency should cut high frequencies and make the tone darker? So why does it work in the opposite way? Same with high-pass filter.
I think this switches work more like high/low ‘shelf’, but the term “crossover frequencies” and this little icons above the switches suggest some other option :confused:
Can any one help? :slight_smile:
(ps. I hope i don’t make a complete fool of myself, but not understanding things really bugs me :))

Originally the Compander was a device created to help deal with tape hiss back in the day. The idea was to compress the signal before going to tape and then expand it on playback. On the process it also bias the signal going to tape by boosting the high frequency content. I’m assuming it would also cut some of those frequencies through the course of expansion.

So that’s what it was designed to do, but one of the clever engineers at Abbey Road decided to use it in a non-conventional way by just using the “encoding” (compression) part of the chain creatively. The net effect was that it acted as a bit of an “exciter” will thats what we would call it anyway. By blending some of it into the audio it would introduce additional harmonics that helps improve the high frequency content of the signal.

The roll of the Filters is to dictate just how much of the audio you want excited. If it’s sounding too bright you might want to roll off some of the highs, if the lows are triggering some unpleasant behaviour you might want to filter those out, for example. So they are there basically to help shape the tone.

Or, in short, keep flicking the filter switches until you find a sound you like!! :rofl:

Ok, so i did a little reaserch on my own and tested this with ‘Plugin doctor’ tool (vst analyzer with frequency/linear analysis, harmonic analysis, etc).
And oh boy… i still can not believe how crazy this plugin behaves. I’m really amazed how well it sounds considering what it does! See for yourselves, screenshots attached.


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Yeah its just one of those things where “if it sounds good, it is good”.

That was always the way, though. Back in the day producers/engineers didn’t have the luxury of closely examining each piece of kit to see how it behaved or what it was doing in the mix. Probably a good thing, because there are a lot of things they probably wouldn’t have done just based on how it’s “curve” looked. This would be one example.

In someways the ability to analyse this stuff has impeded music making because there are many are who are over thinking it now. In the end “what comes out of the speakers is the only thing that matters” to paraphrase Andrew Scheps. He’s right though, the only thing that matters is how it “sounds”.

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