Article about Behringer's Ultra-Dyne Pro, written by Claes Holmerup. Published in AtariMagasinet #3, 2000 (swedish magazine). Translated into english by the author.
Effects and sounds - part 3
In this issue, I'll try to pass on some experience from a new, useful studio rack unit. There are many manufacturers who's started making digital dynamic processors and all of them try to be the "baddest" - but now, the german company Behringer once again have shown the others what they should aim for!
Behringer Ultra-Dyne Pro
While other manufacturers make multi-band compressors with 2, 3 or even 4 frequency bands, Behringer wipes them out with a 6-band processor - which is in a totally different price range than the competitors. The Ultra-Dyne Pro doesn't cost more than just below SEK7000, while many of the competitors land at prices around SEK20000...
For thos who don't know, I'll explain that a compressor in musical terms isn't compressing air (well - in a sense it does, but I won't get into such a deep explanation now...) - it compresses dynamics instead. Compress dynamics? Yes - it evens out the differenc between strong and weak signals. The compressor combined with the limiter amplifies weak signals and decreases strong ones - and with it's help, you can make the music sound more "dense" and increase the subjective volume. This is often used too much in radio broadcasts, so you'll probably understand what I mean if you listen to a CD that you hear on the radio and compare the sound with the CD you have at home...
What's the meaning of having more frequency bands then? It allows the unit to make a better and more "transparent" change of the signal - something most musicians are looking for. A small description of the importance of many frequency bands; When you have a compressor on the final mix and the bass drum is banging away, a regular compressor will react by compressing all of the sound to the same extent that the bass drum needs to be compressed - and the sensitive song and harmony-bearing instruments will also be effected. This ain't no fun to listen to, since the whole music gets degraded by a "pumping" sound. Sometimes this "pumping" effect is desirable as an extra effect on separate instruments - but in the final mix, it's not a hit...
With a 2-band compressor, the music is parted between bass and treble, which are processed individually. This means that you get rid of the bass-drum problem - so already with 2 frequency-bands, you gain a better control and a better sound image. This goes on and the more frequency-bands you part the music in, the better control you get - as well as a better final sound. A compressor with 6 frequency bands, like the Ultra-Dyne Pro is a dream come true :)
Hard to set up?
HA! Fooled you, did I? It's so simple to set up, that almost anyone can do it. If you want to set it up completely by hand, you have to know what you're doing (something you actually learn quite a bit about in the informative users' manual) - but there's a really useful function available, which makes life a lot easier for all stressed studio-technicians: Virtuoso!
Virtuoso is an automagic analytic mode, where the characteristics of the song is analyzed, enabling the unit to set the most important parameters automatically - GROOVY! If you're not completely satisfied with the result, it's possible to make manual adjustments of the automatic settings (separately for each frequency band if you want to). A great thing with this Virtuoso function, is that you donšt have to make time-consuming ground settings by hand - and in fact, the automatic settings are often useable without any changes, so it saves lots of time. Once you have a perfect setting for a certain song or situation, you can save it in one of the 100 memory slots you have access to. There's also the possibility to make adjustments from a PC, since the unit is fully controllable via midi and there's a PC program available from Behringers' website.
Inputs and outputs
Analog in/out exist as both XLR and Tele connectors which are both balanced, but the Tele-connector can also be used in unbalanced operation as well, if using a mono plug. The A/D-convertion is 24-bit and you can choose between 44.1 and 48kHz. Digital input/output is optional for barely SEK1300 and they follow the professional standard AES/EBU, with XLR connectors in and out.
Was that all?
Oh no! Something extra can always be excpected in spite of a low price, when a unit comes from Behringer... ;)
How about a 3-band exciter (on the 3 highest frequency bands), where you can decide the relationship between odd and even overtones? Maybe tube emulation with a choise from 4 different types of tubes, to add some warmth to the mix, be somewhat tempting? Since it's a dynamics processr, it's not only a compressor, but also limiter and noisegate too. There's also a function, called Ultramizer process - which can be recognised from the unit I described in my previous article, the Ultramizer Pro, where you can set the wanted output level and how much the original is allowed to be amplified. This gives the advantage that you don't get an unnaturally amplified signal in quiet passes and you can raise the output to a high amount without destroying the result.
Buy one - I have one myself! If you have need for a superb mastering processor, look no further! However, if you need a compressor for single instruments, the Ultra-Dyne is a little "overkill" and I can recommend the Ultramizer Pro instead, which is quite a bit cheaper, but is an impressive unit even so. A description can be found in the previous article.
We'll meet in the next issue again - take care!