Sonimus is an audio production plugin manufacturer and designer which creates very unique sounding and useful plugins suitable for audio mixing and mastering. I’ve been honored to be in touch with them for a couple of years. We’ve done some plugin giveaways on the Musixon community which got very good feedback from our audience. Today they’ve been kind enough to give me their latest audio plugin “Satson CS” for a review. This one is a very special sounding SSL emulation bundle. There are often people saying things about the pros of analog outboard gear sound compared to audio plugins, but the fact is that we can’t say which one is better. The duties are the same but the way they affect the sound is just different and Satson CS does the job in its unique way.
LET’S SEE WHAT WE GOT!
The bundle includes a gain staging, an equalizer, and a compressor unit. I figured they’re great tools for my mastering chain but they certainly can be used on track-outs during mixing or tracking too. The plugins are all set inside one window which allows you to remove or add more of them!
I love the SSL type EQs and when I’m mixing vocals, it’s always the first EQ I throw on the chain. Usually starting by using a high-pass filter and cutting some frequencies around 400 kHz – 700 kHz to remove muddiness. A good option for adding some air to vocal tracks too by boosting the super-high frequencies on it. Today I tried to use the “Satson CS EQ” on my master bus while mastering. You have to be very careful while using them because all these 3 plugins are very accurate, so be sure not to go crazy on them, especially on the master buss. Very subtle tweaks made my master sound pretty much better. I could smooth out the kick drum which was hitting the ear too hard, using that EQ in a nice and subtle way. The EQ-in button lets you bypass that single plugin unit to check the difference between the unprocessed and processed sound which is an important feature.
As well as being an SSL type buss compressor, this one can also be used for vocal or instrument tracking. Among other features, it has got an adjustable attack control which is not only by steps and it gives you the option to choose different stereo image modes (Stereo Link – Dual Mono – Mono). While I was mastering, I put the compressor unit right after the EQ and just tried to smooth out the transients and mess with the dynamic-range without being too noticeable. The attack control setting also helped me to even get a more accurate result since it’s more adjustable rather than the other versions (0.1ms to 30.0ms).
A lot of people think mastering is just increasing the volume or the compressor just makes the track sound thick!
The final mix you get for mastering normally should have about -3db to -6db of headroom. So what happens if you only increase the volume and add up some more dbs? It’s gonna get louder until the audio starts to get distorted.
The limiter can avoid the audio to get distorted but it works just like the compressor with a super-high ratio. Thus the dynamic range becomes lower and lower as you increase the volume and a lot of harsh and unpleasant frequencies get more and more audible.
That’s when we understand how vital the mastering techniques are and an excellent buss compressor is an important tool on the chain. The “Satson CS Compressor” would be a good way to glue the sounds together to make them more pleasant to the ear when the master becomes very loud.
THE GAIN STAGING
This one works like a volume fader but with adding its own subtle and unique color to the sound. It also has high and low cut frequency knobs very suitable for use on the master buss or track-outs in the mix. There are times you may need more input volume for your limiter on the master buss and this plugin unit can be a great help for it while adding its unique harmonic saturation which would help to get a warm and smoother sound.
As well as the effects these plugin units add up to the sound, I can tell they were fully considering the work-flow simplicity and speed while creating the “Satson CS”. You simply add new plugins to the window by clicking on the “MODULES” button on the left top or drag one out to remove. If you drag a plugin by mistake, it also can undo and bring it back for you. The mixing knob on the SSL is also pretty useful for parallel processing on the sound. All in all, I personally like what they have created and would be definitely keep using it.