Lindell Audio has released the 354E, a multiband model of the Neve 2254ETM diode bridge compressor. The original 2254 mono compressor/limiter design was a standard module in the company’s 80 Series hard-wired analog consoles in 1969. Its input stage is based around an input transformer followed by a diode bridge relying on the dynamic resistance of the diodes changing with current provided by control voltage to act as a level control element — hence its distinctive behavior and rich, creamy character. Compression attack time is fixed, though the third major revision, the long-loved 2254E, allows for faster attack times. Today, this module comes back from the dead in the form of a plug-in by Lindell and their distribution partner, Plugin Alliance.
The new plug-in features independent five-step RATIO — ranges from 1.5:1 (for mastering and master-bus compression) through to 6:1 (for shaping individual tracks); switchable NUKE mode (for over-compressing tracks to dramatic effect); LINK (Mid-Side) mode (for focusing compression on mid or side channel — or in stereo — for precision); SIDECHAIN/HPF (to lend greater punch to compressed drums, bass guitar, and other bass-heavy instruments); switchable NIVEAU filter (for tilting SIDECHAIN/HPF frequency response towards bass energy preservation — perfect for achieving an API thrust compression effect); MIX control (to promptly provide parallel processing — ideal for blending compressed signal with dry input when working with drums, adding density to rock guitars, and more); M/S (link) and SOLO for each frequency band; adjustable, wide-ranging ATTACK and RECOVERY (release) controls ranging from a blazing-fast 2 ?S (two-millionths of a second) attack time (for radical compression) to AUTO release (for artefact-free processing); optional AUTO makeup GAIN for each band; two-way dB meter (displays I/O and gain reduction levels in turn — internal operating levels can be calibrated in nine 1dB steps for precise mastering applications); and resizable user interface and up to 16x oversampling for digital precision in any environment.
Creatively speaking, 354E is, in practical terms, two compressors in one — a colorful, vintage-sounding paintbrush-like plug-in, suited to both mastering and mixing applications alike. As such, turning on NUKE mode makes radically reshaping individual tracks a joy to behold; but, conversely, turning it off allows for lighter, more nuanced compression when mastering or when more surgical mixing is needed. Needless to say, both ways of working yield the same lush coloration and smooth presence that made the 2254E one of the most revered and highly-sought-after compressors in the world. Which is why the 354E is so suited to compressing drums, electric guitars, and rock vocals as one of the premier plugins for the task at hand.
Hitting that NUKE button is akin to throwing TNT on drum room mics! Make room ambience explode and drums pump like a jackhammer! Use the built- in filters to shield bass frequencies from compression, inflating the kick drum in the room mics to a heavy monster sound, then adjust the three bands’ RATIO and GAIN controls to balance hi-hat and cymbal levels with that of the trap drums for the perfect blend. Better still, the NIVEAU filter and NUKE mode are also tickets to making thin-sounding floor and rack toms thunder with deep, long sustain, and rock vocals hyperventilate with urgency. As a go-to guitar-track-shaper, 354E’s multiband controls and filters can compress the bottom and top strings’ output to different degrees to boost chunky, palm-muted bass notes or blazing, high chords to the front of the mix. Major compression adds intensely colorful character, though the MIX control can dial some pristine dry signal back into 354E’s output for beautifully balanced mayhem and detail.
Digging deeper, 354E takes on the highly-nuanced behavior befitting master-bus compression and mastering when waving goodbye to NUKE mode. Milder by its very nature, the 1.5:1 RATIO setting solidifies mixes with a glue-like quality, while switching in the NIVEAU filter brings punch, fullness, and weight to the bottom end of the thinnest of mixes. More musically satisfying, maybe, M/S mode can compress hard-panned guitars without affecting the kick drum, bass, and lead vocals, while with A > B workspaces users can compare alternative control setups in pursuit of production perfection.
Lindell Audio’s 354E is available now for $199 in the AAX Native-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting flavors for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher).