The Next Logical Step in Dynamics Processing
Multiband Compression – Without the Guesswork
The DSM V2 takes the guesswork out of multiband compression. It saves time in mastering and allows rapid experimentation in creative compression. We explain more about this below, but first, what is the DSM V2 exactly?
Unlike a conventional multiband compressor, the DSM V2 has very many more frequency bands, which cover the entire spectrum. It splits audio into bands in the same way a prism splits light into different colours. We call it a Prismatic Compressor for this reason.
Capture Immediate Results
The Capture System is the heart of the DSM V2.
During audio playback, press the Capture button once to grab the spectrum, or press and hold to grab an average spectrum over time.
The resulting Capture Curve is the threshold for the Prismatic Compressor. The thresholds for each of the many bands of compression are automatically set.
Effortless Natural-Sounding Compression
Because the Capture Curve is obtained directly from the audio programme, the DSM V2 always compresses to a natural and believable frequency spectrum.
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 ease.
Returning to the Capture System for a moment, in fact there is more to this than meets the eye, which is designed to ensure the Capture Curve is always optimal for the Prismatic Compressor. Details on this Multi-Dimensional Capture follow after we've covered some of the other DSM V2 concepts first.
Progressive Spectrum Mapping
Like all compressors, when the signal exceeds the threshold, compression is progressively applied. But because the threshold in the DSM V2 is a spectrum (the Capture Curve), as the signal exceeds it, the spectral response gets progressively imprinted. Thus the signal is more strongly returned to the Capture Curve as its level rises.
The extent of this progressive spectrum mapping, or morphing, is controlled as one would expect: The Threshold control moves the entire Capture Curve vertically, to control how much signal gets subjected to compression. And the Ratio and soft Knee controls work as for any compressor, affecting each frequency band equally.
Any Capture Curve can be modified with up to three Parametric Threshold sections, using familiar "EQ-style" controls.
The Parametric Threshold is not an EQ, but rather it superimposes an EQ-style frequency response onto the Capture Curve, to which the programme is then compressed as usual. The Parametric Threshold is non-destructive, so you can experiment freely on your Capture 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, grab a Capture Curve.
2. Modify. Use the Parametric Threshold to optionally modify the Capture Curve in a flexible, non-destructive way.
3. Apply. Now simply 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.
More compression equals more loudness. Right? Not always. There's another, often overlooked, dimension to loudness.
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 Capture Curve to the whole track will confer a forward, in-your-face quality, but without excessive compression. A lighter, more engineered approach to loudness maximisation is now possible.
And allied with the Parametric Threshold, the critical interplay between frequency response and ultra-multiband compression in the pursuit of perceived loudness maximisation has never been more accessible to the mastering engineer.
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. Greater resolution is intentionally provided in this frequency range on the DSM V2 graphical display:
De-essing is achieved simply by grabbing a Capture Curve from a good part of the performance, and adjusting the overall Threshold level and Ratio 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. The DSM V2 always compresses to an authentic spectral response derived from the performance itself.
Vocal tone is typically controlled by the Parametric Threshold. More radical changes can be made by applying Capture Curves grabbed from other takes or tracks.
The Capture System doesn't only capture the audio spectrum. It also captures a representation of the programme dynamics. This brings a whole new dimension of creative control to the sound engineer. How does the DSM V2 achieve this?
The spectrum displayed on the DSM V2 is pre-processed by the timing parameters, namely, Attack, Decay, and the Timing Profile section.
For example, with slow Attack and fast Decay timing parameters, the Capture 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 Capture Curve, which could be useful if you just want to compress the peaks.
It's worth pointing out that once a Capture Curve has been obtained, you are free to choose entirely different timing parameters for the compression itself.
In a sense, leaving the timing parameters untouched after grabbing a Capture Curve will provide a precise match between the Capture Curve and the Prismatic Compressor. But this is by no means necessary, and in fact the possibilities for new types of creative control are limitless.
The Dry / Wet control offers a balance between the processed and original programme.
Mastering Limiter - Transparent Below -1dBFS
Additionally, the DSM V2 features a single-button Limiter of mastering-grade quality. The Limiter has been optimised to work seamlessly with the Prismatic Compressr, and allows short-term peak events in the programme to exceed maximum peak modulation levels without causing overs or loss of impact.
The DSM V2 Mastering Limiter boasts complete transparency for levels below -1dBFS.
The post-limiter Gain Out trim control is provided so that headroom can be maintained without the need for an additional gain plugin.
Creative Tool and Problem Solver
In summary, and without going into all the techniques in this quick overview, exemplary results in lightning-fast time can be achieved for all the following common tasks:-
- Loudness enhancement.
- Continuity matching.
- Vocal timbre treatment.
- Character mapping between whole mixes, tracks, vocals & instruments.
- Sound character control for broadcast playout.
- Microphone proximity correction in video or film production.
- Improving difficult outside broadcast situations in post-production.
The Bottom Line
The DSM V2 singularly combines the familiarity and ease-of-use of a wideband compressor with the precision offered by a myriad of independent processing bands, and this is all made possible by the advanced Capture System.
Watch the DSM V2 concept video narrated by its inventor, Paul Frindle.