BLEASS Compressor review: Compression without complication
Modelled vintage and boutique dynamics processors can inject a particular character into your music, but what if you just want some compression?
⊕ Attractive and intuitive user interface
⊕ Lightweight and efficient on host system
⊕ Flexible sidechain filter
⊕ Exceptional value
⊖ Dragging in compression curve not the easiest way to adjust settings
When it comes to colourful, characterful dynamics processors, modern advances in modelling technologies mean we’ve never had it so good. But modelling can be quite demanding on the host system and, besides, dynamics processing isn’t always about injecting analogue warmth or creating vintage tones – sometimes we just want to control our music’s dynamics. Frankly, we all need a straightforward, lean and effective compressor in our effects arsenals – something, in fact, much like the new BLEASS Compressor for desktop and iOS.
The Source stage of the plug-in centres around a flexible sidechain filter featuring both low-pass and high-pass resonant bands, making it easy to hone the processor’s response to precise frequencies and frequency ranges. Setting the filters is simply a case of dragging or touching within the filter graph, while a sidechain listen mode allows you to hear the results of your user inputs. The plug-in also allows external sidechain input, making classic sidechain pumping effects easy to achieve.
The compressor stage is dominated by an interactive dynamics graph that shows the current compression curve; when sound is playing through the plug-in, the graph visualises the compressor’s response. Dragging in the graph allows the compression threshold and ratio to be set simultaneously – dragging left-to-right changes both proportionally; dragging up-and-down changes them inverse proportionally.
This can be a quick way to dial in compression settings, but we found it easier to use the nice, big faders that sit on either side of the graph. A third fader, located beneath the graph, allows you to set the compression knee, too.
Attack and release times are set with simple dials with the former able to go down to 0ms, thanks to the plug-in’s look-ahead feature that can be set at 0ms, 2ms or 5ms. In addition, large bar-style meters show the current input signal level and the amount of gain reduction – it’s all crystal clear and intuitive.
The plug-in’s output stage also sports a bar-style meter, and provides a master gain control and two optional makeup gain modes. In Passive mode, the amount of makeup gain is calculated based on the compression settings, but in Active mode the makeup gain amount changes constantly in response to the current gain reduction amount. This can create quite a pushed, in-your-face sort of compression that sounds awesome when used in the right contexts.
Of particular note is how light BLEASS Compressor is on the host system. This is vital on iPad and iPhone, but also very welcome on desktop, where you could easily run BLEASS Compressor on every track of a large project while leaving ample CPU power available for other effects and processors.
As with all BLEASS products, Compressor is well-focussed on its task and does an excellent job of it without fuss or complication. The plug-in is very flexible too, just as happy snicking the intensity out of a hi-hat as it is adding heft to a kick drum. So if you need a solid, reliable workhorse of a compressor that will break neither the bank nor your CPU, then BLEASS Compressor is just the ticket.
- Plug-in dynamics processor for Windows, macos, iOS and iPadOS
- Compatible with AAX, AU, VST and AUv3 hosts
- Two-band sidechain filter with external sidechain option
- Interactive dynamics graph and visualiser
- Variable compression knee
- Passive and active makeup gain modes
- Preset library and parameter randomiser
- Desktop: $15 (Currently available with 33% discount to $10), iOS / iPadOS: $3.99 / £3.49
- Contact BLEASS
- Buy: BLEASS, Apple