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Softube Chandler Limited® Germanium Compressor Review by Audio Plugin Guy

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I  know, I know. Another compressor? Again? Do we really need another one?

APG Score

  • Sound quality - 5/5
  • Ease of use - 3/5
  • Interface - 4/5
  • Value for money - 3/5
  • Spoiled Kid Satisfaction - 5

Overall Rating - 4/5

The plugin era has made us react like spoiled teenagers every time a new plugin comes out. We either over-react and buy it blindly because it is a no-brainer, or we question the meaning of life and the reason hidden behind our overcrowded plugin folder.

I guess the reaction would have been different if we were offered a stereo tube optical compressor for 300 right? But yes, the main difference is that one is software and the other one hardware. One will perish with the constant updating madness of OS or just if the company stops its activity. While the other one “just needs servicing”.

But hardware sounds better than software… Whaaaat? No, man. It is not true. And, in the end, no one cares if it is a real 1073 or software that you used, the end-listener can’t spot the difference.

This endless debate goes on. As an outboard junkie, I tend to not be really impressed by software compressors. Most of the time, they sound alright or nice but never amazing or woooof like I could feel with some piece of outboard (33609C, Thermionik Phoenix, Distressor, Sta Gates, Fairchild 670, etc). Will this new Softube plugin change my mind?

Let’s find out.

The Only Good Germ is Germanium

Worst pun ever, I am sorry. But this was to illustrate how Germanium (32Ge) has made its way to audio gear. From smiling fuzz pedals to super expensive mastering gear (SPL Iron for example). It has a specific sound and generates pleasing but quite obvious harmonics. But regarding germanium, the Chandler Limited® Germanium FET Compressor is imposing itself as the one that could rule them all in the audio world: “The compressor circuit uses an FET gain reduction element but with the tricks and flexibility of the Germanium units – referring to the other germanium unit of the Chandler Limited processors like the Germanium preamps for example – (…). Wet/Dry, compression curve (which selects the knee using various diode combinations), clean/dirty compression mode and sidechain filter”

In addition to this, Softube when doing its emulation of this piece of gear, added M/S, external sidechain and the most important thing: The OUTPUT KNOB.

To be honest with you, I just wanted to try this compressor to make a review out of it. I was expecting it to sound like any other software compressor: “Nice, sounds cool, but I don’t really need it at the moment.”. I was wrong… And I ended up using it on countless tracks. And it is not the kind of thing I do very often (I even try to avoid that as much as I can by testing/comparing intensively). As a comparison, I tried a lot of analog-modeled EQ/compressors during a very special sale of one of the main plugin providers of the current market. And was pretty underwhelmed by everything I tried (even though everything was described as amazing!, best… in the box!, no-brainer! etc.). Which made this guy stands out from the crowd even more.

Conclusion

It is one of the best (maybe the best) software compressors I have tried (as of March 2020). And yes, I have also tried Acustica and Nebula.

Gain-staging is the key to unleash its full potential. Also being careful and informed about its sonic impact is mandatory! As amazing as it could sound, it can also destroy the source you are working on if you haven’t got a clear idea of what you are doing. This is not another forgiving LA2A emulation.

Now yes, I admit, the price is high for a 2020 software compressor. But it is the price you can expect from Softube. If you are a professional mixing engineer/producer like me, try it and see if it worths the investment. From my part, it is pretty clear that I will have to buy it now. As I have nothing that comes close to it in my plugin folder.

Kudos to the developers of this plugin. Surprisingly amazing!

Summary

If I could give 8 out of 5 on the sound quality, I would have done it, because the sound quality of this compressor is freaking amazing.

It is not so easy to use, as the outboard is (so it is not Softube fault here). As the compressor needs a bit of time to get accustomed to its settings, sound, and knobs interactions. Personally, I took me roughly around 30 minutes to 3 hours of use to understand it fully (which is pretty fast so you might find it easy to use too !).

The interface is beautiful and as clear as the outboard could be. Although my only picky concern would be: Why does it load a stereo interface on a mono track? And both controls affect the sound! I find it a bit weird and said the same thing in my video about the TG12345 emulation. It’s odd but it is far from being a problem as it defaults with linked parameters. So on a mono track, just using the linked parameters will erase any confusion from your mind (almost haha).

Value for money, well. If you are a professional, it worths every cent. The sound is a piece of art regarding software emulation. It is stable and not particularly CPU hungry. If you are a hobbyist, this kind of expense could be harder to justify. Particularly regarding the massive offers on the plugin market. We are here splitting hairs on finding the best plugin compressor. Which is more of a professional concern (that 10% more).

All in all, I will say it one last time. This is the only software compressor that made me say: “Wow”. And believe me, I have tried a lot of them. Way too much for my health maybe.

Have fun with this one! Congratulations Softube!

Please feel free to check out the full review over at AudioPluginGuy.com

Buy Chandler Limited® Germanium Compressor

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