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One of the most important features is the integration of a switchable MS matrix. This unit transfers the incoming stereo signal into a middle (M) and a side channel (S). Now the M and S channels can be processed separately and are then decoded to left (L) and right (R) again.

The resulting possibilities go beyond the potential of a conventional compressor in stereo link mode. For example, you can now process the mostly dominant middle signals like drums, bass and vocals selectively without influencing the stereo spectrum in a negative way.

The complicated splits between a powerful middle signal and a wide stereo image can now be done off the top of one’s head. But using MS technology in dynamics processing offers more possibilities than merely providing a problem solver for complicated cases. The creative fraction will also love the new dimensions of putting their personal sound visions into effect.

The performance of the compressor can be perfectly matched to the audio material by engaging intelligent control options. Special modes support the classic parameters Attack, Release, Threshold and Ratio, helping to achieve pleasantly unobtrusive compression results even when processing very dynamic sounds.

Both Attack and Release feature the switchable Auto-Fast option that adjusts the value of the time parameters according to the speed in which the signal volume changes. In case of short and loud impulses (e.g. drums) the compressor automatically enhances its speed for a short moment and then returns to the original settings. This makes it very easy to find musical settings for any kind of dynamics processing.

Switching the sidechain from Feedback to Feedforward mode results in more extreme sounding compression properties that invite to run riot on creative sound design – a true pleasure for ambitious sound freaks.

The integrated sidechain filters allow shaping the compression dependent on selected frequencies. For example, it is very easy to attenuate the influence of bass signals on the overall compression. Furthermore, you can crossfade between high-pass and low-pass characteristics. In combination with corresponding Attack and Release settings the responding behaviour can be systematically adjusted to problematic frequencies.

A special audio filter allows altering the character of the compressed signal. It should not be equated with classic shelving filters because it is capable of creating new sound nuances without corrupting the signal’s original complexion. Digital productions will sound more powerful and rhythm instruments will gain in punch and assertiveness.

The fact that you can use this function on the middle and the side channel separately opens up entirely new possibilities. For example, an accentuation of the high frequencies in the side channel will broaden the stereo spectrum in a very pleasant and unobtrusive way. Reverbs can also sound wider without taking exaggerated effects.

The Mix controller allows crossfading the compressed and the unprocessed signal so that the alpha compressor can be used to assign the right proportion without further hardware and cables.

This method of parallel compression enables the user only to enhance the quieter signals and leave the rest as it is. The mix will sound tight and loud without degrading the original dynamic structure. For sound design purposes of course this feature can also be used to add extreme compression effects to the source at will.

Both the original and the processed signal have a bypass switch of their own and can therefore be monitored separately. This also works in MS mode where you can monitor the middle and the side channels independently just by switching them on and off – a very convenient aspect, because it makes the change of any controller settings redundant.

In order to protect following AD converters from signal peaks the alpha compressor is equipped with Soft Clip limiters. By holding back short transients the converters can be set to a higher recording level. The fully discrete transistor design makes this circuit very agile so that even very fast signals will not find a way through.

The operation mode differs however from that of a typical peak limiter that will not let any signal pass above the adjusted threshold. The technical principle can rather be compared to an analog tape machine that drives loud impulses into saturation and thus acts like a 'natural' limiter.
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