Brainworx designed the Elysia Mpressor plugin, and you can buy it from Plugin Alliance, but there’s also a UAD version available.
The first button, called “Floor” is to turn on and off the emulation of the hardware’s noise floor. The “Link” button allows you to link the left and right stereo tracks. The “Active” button will put the unit into bypass mode.
The meter shows the amount of gain reduction in decibels, and “GRL” indicates that there is gain reduction occurring.
The first thing to set, much like on any compressor, is the “Threshold” knob. This sets the level at which the compression “kicks in”. The “SC Extern” button means to turn on external sidechain functionality.
The next button that you’d probably want to set is the “Attack” button. This will set the amount of time it takes for the compressor to respond to a peak, once the threshold is met. The “Auto Fast” button attempts to automatically adjust the attack time based on the speed and loudness of the transient.
Next, you’ll probably adjust the “Release” button. This sets how quickly the compressor returns to “normal” after hitting 6db of reduction. I find it best to close my eyes and use my ears when setting this. This should be done by “feel”. You’ll know if it doesn’t feel right, and when you get it to sit right in the groove, it’ll feel perfect. The “Anti Log” button switches from a linear release curve to an algorithmic one.
Finally you’ll adjust the “Ratio” which is how much you want to “squash” the signal. Overdo it, and you’ll know. Subtle is usually better, but the Elysia Mpressor has a “hard knee”, so it’ll be more noticeable. It also supports negative compression ratios, which can be useful for adjusting the swing or pumping of a song.
Up to this point, the Mpressor controls are very similar to a standard compressor. Now were it takes a turn is the bottom row of knobs. The “EQ Gain” has an accompanying “On” knob that engages the Niveau Filter. The EQ comes after the compressor. Turn left to boost the bass and cut the treble, and turn right to boost the treble and cut the bass.
The “EQ Freq” knob adjusts where the center frequency of the Niveau Filter is. The “x10” button shifts the frequency up by a factor of 10. The default frequencies are 26Hz to 2.2kHz. With the button engaged, it changes to 260Hz up to 22kHz.
The “GR Limit” knob also has an accompanying “On” knob that engages the Limiter. It limits the control voltages.
The “Gain” knob is “make up gain” which can be used to drive the Elysia Mpressor harder.
Here’s a clip of Piano,Drums and Bass. The Mpressor is put on the Bass track, and uses the Drum Track as the Sidechain. By the way, that’s Gavin from Logic Pro X Drummer fame, playing the Brooklyn Drum Kit 😉
I adjusted the Bass so that it pumps with the music and has some growl, which is accented by boosting the lows below 2.6 Khz and cutting the highs above 2.6 kHz.
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Here’s an example where I added in some “House Drums” to make it more of a dance track. I put the Mpressor on the Mix Bus, but kept the original Drum track as the sidechain. I then set a negative ratio to get a more drastic sound. I set the threshold to where it was kicking in “just enough” and had to turn the release all the way down. I then dialed in the attack and played with the negative ratio until it was in time.
To add a bit more flavor and motion, I automate the EQ Gain and EQ Frequency to rise over the entire clip. Something to consider doing on the entire mix to play with the tension of the song, leading up to a transitional part.
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Here’s another example with a clip from “I Am Lost”. I started with the Mpressor’s “Negative Gating” preset and then tweaked it a bit. You’ll hear it dull the kick a bit, but also give a bit more “thud” and then it tames the snare/clap a little as well. The Gain adds a bit of distortion.
This time I ran everything into an Aux and put the Mpressor on that, to emulate parallel compression. I then sidechained the Kick. By turning the Attack all the way up and the release all the way down, I was able to get it to pump with the beat. I turned the Ratio all the way to the right to negative 4, set the EQ to about 500 Hz, and turned the EQ Gain to the left to boost the lows. I then adjusted the Aux volume and Mix Bus volume to blend them so they wouldn’t Peak. This didn’t drastically change the sound, but definitely gave the Kick more “beater”. This is where those final touches add up, where you just improve the song by 1 or 2 percent. For song sections requiring the Kick to be more out front, this could be an ideal setting, giving your song that extra polish to make it sound more professional.
The Elysia Mpressor isn’t ideal for doing subtle compression, so avoid using it for that. Where I’ve found it to be of most use is to try and get some pump/swing going. If you finish your track, and find it to be a bit lifeless, you can try the Mpressor to see if you can breathe a bit of life into it. The EQ seems to be good at dialing in the Kick and reducing that Hi-hat sizzle, or inversely, promoting that hi-hat sizzle. I wouldn’t recommend this plugin if you are just starting out. There are plenty of more vital compressors that you need focus on and learn.
However, if your tracks sound good, but are missing that “little something”, where you can tell they just don’t sound quite like the “radio” songs, then this might be able to add that little extra polish to bring it closer. Try it on a track here and there, then on the mix bus, then on a parallel mix bus. And don’t be afraid to automate it, and only use it for certain sections of the song!
Check out our other Elysia plugin reviews.