When it comes to adding movement and texture to your tracks, bold and brash effects get all the love – after all, a well-placed tremolo or delay can send your song hurtling into the cosmos on a wave of kinetic energy. But real hi-fi enthusiasts know it’s all about dynamics. These unsung heroes of the signal processing world have the capacity to fatten up your tone or completely transform your sonic landscape – from subtle shifts in a single sound to completely crushing the dynamic range of your entire track.
Here are five of our favorite dynamic effects generators from The REAKTOR User Library, all of them packed with personality and signal processing potential. Read on for an expert analysis of each compelling compressor, and click the embedded links for a free download.
As per usual, make sure you’re running the full version of REAKTOR.
Beat Controlled Shaper
There’s nothing like a good pumping effect to add dynamic movement to your techno and house tracks – and if you’re looking to snag that sound without the hassle of complex sidechain compressors, then Jan Gabler’s Beat Controlled Shaper might be just what you need. This timing-accurate tremolo simulates pumping sidechain compression, allowing you to control both the repeat rate and the shape of the modulator so you can pump and duck with ease.
A faithful model of the legendary “Leveller” hardware compressor from the 60s, Dan Worrall’s L3V3LL3R delivers the same killer tones without the unobtainium price tag. It can definitely do subtle parallel compression if that’s what you’re after – but this free compressor really shines when you slam it hard, especially if you’re seeking extremely squashed drums. Just turn up the gain knob to drive it harder or run it in series mode for some serious signal smashing.
Inga Naïve Leveller
Dripping with mojo and character, alt fidelity’s Inga Naïve Leveller simulates the dynamic characteristics of vintage optical and Vari-Mu compressors like the legendary Fairchild 670 (sans the six figures you’d need to snap up an original). Designed for maximum flexibility with a special focus on non-percussive sources, this cutting edge compressor can go from aggressive pumping to slow, smooth leveling and everything in between.
Dan Worrall is back with another great sounding and genuinely gentle compressor. Deceptively simple in its design, the four knob FL4TT3RY 2 features a choice of RMS or peak detection methods, switchable high-pass filters for the sidechain, external sidechain inputs, and optional soft clipping for the output. With a soft, gradual knee and no ratio control for maximum transparency, this compressor thrives on sonic subtlety – making it an excellent tool for lending your instrument bus that “je ne sais quoi” sparkle.
Enough with the subtlety! We’re closing out this roundup with the ultimate drum squasher: a pugnacious processor deliberately designed to destroy your dynamic range. Salamanderanagram’s Zero dB will turn your boring, unprocessed drums into barbarically boosted beats by crushing the signal and pushing normally quiet decay periods to the absolute brink of sonic insanity.
There’s more where that came from – don’t forget to explore the full User Library for an almost limitless archive of instruments, effects, sequencers and more. Should you need a hand finding the cream of the crop, we’ve a whole series right here on the blog. You’ll find it all over on the aptly named Free Stuff section.
Sound design: Konstantin Grismann