DSM V2

Prismatic Compressor & Mastering Limiter

Operational Overview

The DSM V2 moulds audio to any desired target spectrum.

It achieves this using compression in a large number of fixed frequency bands. The target spectrum provides the compression threshold parameter for each frequency band. For this reason, the target spectrum is also called the Threshold Curve.

Compression only occurs in those frequency bands where the signal rises above the Threshold Curve. The DSM V2 compresses the signal and returns it towards the Threshold Curve.

The Ratio control sets the compression ratio in all frequency bands equally, and determines how strongly the signal is returned towards the Threshold Curve.

To obtain a Threshold Curve, simply press the Capture button whilst audio is playing. It can be tweaked using the Parametric Threshold controls, and saved as a preset.

Applications

Mastering

If the Threshold Curve is captured from the same track that you're processing, then very natural, invisible compression is possible. Excellent for mastering in conjunction with the super-transparent DSM V2 Mastering Limiter.

De-Essing & Vocal Timbre Modification

If the Threshold Curve is captured from a vocal track at a moment without any sibilance, then the whole track will be de-essed. Better results and faster to use than many dedicated de-essers. The DSM V2 is especially good on vocals, due to the high resolution in the mid-to-upper frequency range.

Continuity Matching & Microphone Correction

If the Threshold Curve is captured from part of a recording with desirable ambience and vocal tone, then any deviations from this, eg. due to scene changes or poor microphone technique, will be reduced by the compression.

Loudness Enhancement

If the Threshold Curve is captured from a forward-sounding passage in a track, then that impression of loudness will be carried over to the whole track. The DSM V2 exploits the phenomenon that perceived loudness is largely determined by frequency content.

Character Control for Mixes and Instruments

If the Threshold Curve is captured from a different track, then the spectrum of that track is dynamically impressed upon the track you're processing. Trying out different Threshold Curves captured from successful productions will often provide fruitful avenues to explore.

Tape Saturation Effects

Start with a pink noise Threshold Curve for creative tape saturation effects.

Where you capture the Threshold Curve from dictates the application!

DSM V2 Technical Design

1   More than 3 times as many frequency bands as conventional multiband compressors, with particularly fine resolution in the mids and highs, where the lion's share of character and vocal timbre are formed.

2   Proprietary Capture System uses both spectral and dynamic information to obtain a Threshold Curve. Thus, programme compression and de-essing is performed with reference to a credible, authentic frequency response.

3   Super-smooth, resilient compression. Large dynamic events and spectrally complex percussion are compressed with ease. Out-of-character tonal changes are avoided, even under heavy compression.

4   Capture the signature sound from one track and dynamically impress it upon a different track. The Dynamic Spectrum Mapping of the DSM V2 lends a more believable result than the old matching EQ method.

5   Transients are kept intact, never smoothed-over. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and is where many "spectral" audio processors end up ruining your mixes. The DSM V2 always keeps the punch and detail intact.

6   Mastering Limiter is 100% transparent below -1dBFS. This means the Limiter only processes the peaks, leaving everything else untouched. Again, all transient detail is preserved, even above digital maximum.

7   Parallel Compression is easily acheived with the Dry/Wet mix control.

DSM V2 in Greater Depth...

Dynamic Spectrum Mapper V2

Keep Your Mixes Alive

The DSM V2 has many exciting spectral compression capabilities – we'll get to those soon – but there is something very important we'd like to say first.

Once the transients in your track have been smoothed-over by an audio processor, they are gone forever. You'll never get the original life and energy back, no matter what. Plugins that operate on frequency bands are notorious for this.

However, the DSM V2 keeps the transients intact, thanks to highly accurate time-domain envelope processing. We engineered it that way from the ground-up, because it matters even more than the number of frequency bands.

Explosive, subtle percussion – original  (mp3 file)
Compressed with the DSM V2  (mp3 file)

Capture Immediate Results

The Capture System is the heart of the DSM V2.

Capture

The missing dimension in all conventional compressors is spectral and dynamic information about the audio programme. The DSM V2 compresses to a spectral threshold derived from the track being processed, or any other reference track.

During audio playback, press the Capture button once to capture the spectrum, or press and hold to capture an average spectrum over time.

The resulting Threshold Curve is the threshold for the Prismatic Compressor. The compression threshold for each band gets set, without guesswork.

Effortless Natural-Sounding Compression

Because the Threshold Curve is obtained directly from the audio programme, the DSM V2 always compresses to a natural and believable frequency spectrum, and prevents unwanted tonal changes, even under heavy compression.

This means the DSM V2 can sympathetically handle programme over a very wide dynamic range, without many of the usual compression artefacts. Even large percussive events, which badly defeat conventional compressors, are handled with aplomb.

Stereo Link

When processing stereo tracks, you will almost certainly want to link the compression action in the left and right channels. This ensures both sides are processed equally and retain a stable stereo image. The Link button provides this function.

Parametric Threshold

Parametric Threshold

The Parametric Threshold is not an EQ, but rather it superimposes an EQ-style frequency response onto the Threshold Curve, to which the programme is then compressed as usual. The Parametric Threshold is non-destructive, so you can experiment freely on your Threshold Curve presets.

Capture — Modify — Apply

Many creative compression possibilities can be rapidly explored with the DSM V2 using the following 3-step workflow. We'll assume you have two tracks to hand, Track A and Track B:

1. Capture. Whilst playing Track A, capture a Threshold Curve.

2. Modify. Use the Parametric Threshold to optionally modify the Threshold Curve in a flexible, non-destructive way.

3. Apply. Now play Track B: The spectral response from Track A is impressed upon Track B, but in a more dynamic, musical and expressive way than merely using fixed equalisation.

Loudness Maximisation

The DSM V2 squarely addresses the pivotal role of frequency response on perceived loudness. For example, capturing from a bright-sounding passage and applying that Threshold Curve to the whole track will confer a forward, in-your-face quality, but without excessive compression. A psychoacoustically engineered approach to loudness maximisation is now possible.

Bigger Than Life by Josh Fields  (mp3 file)
Enhanced for loudness using the DSM V2  (mp3 file)

Vocals and De-essing

Due to the internal fixed frequency band arrangement, which naturally provides more bands of processing in the mid and upper ranges, the DSM V2 is particularly well suited to vocals. In particular, it's a smart tool for de-essing.

Frequency Spectrum Display

Simply capture a Threshold Curve from a good part of the performance without any "essing", and adjust the overall Threshold level until the sibilance is supressed.

This is a holistic approach to the problem, rather than the conventional way of attempting to surgically cut out the offending frequencies by trial-and-error.

Multi-Dimensional Capture (Advanced)

There's more to the DSM V2 Capture System than just taking a snapshot of the spectrum. Engineers wishing to explore highly nuanced compression effects will benefit from understanding how the Capture can be "tuned" to the programme dynamics.

The key point is that the spectrum displayed for each channel is accurately pre-processed by the timing parameters (ie. Attack, Decay and Timing Profile), and this directly influences the Threshold Curve obtained when the Capture button is pressed.

Timing Parameters

For example, with slow Attack and fast Decay settings, if you take a new Capture then the Threshold Curve will tend to represent the steady-state background spectrum and ignore transient peak information. The other extreme, fast Attack and slow Decay, will add transient spectral information to the captured Threshold Curve, which could be useful if you just want to compress the peaks.

Natural Match

Leaving the timing parameters untouched after capturing a Threshold Curve will provide a natural match between the Threshold Curve and the compression action. What we mean by this is that the programme's dynamics are informing both the captured Threshold Curve and the compression in exactly the same way.

However, it's worth pointing out that once a Threshold Curve has been obtained, you are free to deviate from the "natural match" described above and choose entirely different timing parameters for the compression itself. Only the DSM V2 can offer this type of multi-dimensional creative control.

Parallel Compression

The Dry / Wet control offers a balance between the processed and original programme, providing an easy way to achieve parallel compression.

Mastering Limiter - Transparent Below -1dBFS

Additionally, the DSM V2 features a single-button Limiter of mastering-grade quality, which allows short-term peak events in the programme to exceed maximum peak modulation levels without causing overs or loss of impact.

Limiter

The DSM V2 Mastering Limiter boasts complete transparency for levels below -1dBFS. Furthermore, all transient detail is retained, even above digital maximum.

The post-limiter Gain Out trim control is provided so that headroom can be maintained without the need for an additional gain plugin.

Video Demonstration

Watch the Introduction to the DSM V2, narrated by its designer, Paul Frindle.

We invite you to judge how the DSM V2 performs on the most challenging tasks you're working on right now.