The latest hardware / software bundle offered from TC might be a mouthful to say, but this plugin and hardware controller combo doesn’t skimp on the features. I spent the last few weeks using the dynamic plugin / controller combo on a variety of sources from my mastering chain to individual vocals and guitars and I was quite pleased with what I found.
Here's the complete video review:
With the Master X bundle, you get access to the native plugin for VST, AU, and AAX formats as well as a physical USB controller that works with the plugin. I found the USB controller to be extremely sturdy, well labeled, physically responsive, and with no latency. The parameters both on the computer screen and hardware controller screen adjusted instantly and smoothly to the touch. The hardware controller is discretely labeled for this plugin only, something that lends to its usability - I’m not a fan of generic controllers and I typically find them to save less time than you think. This controller makes you want to use the plugin more often, and when you are using the plugin it is a more convenient process - that’s as it should be.
Master X HD is a multiband dynamics plugin which gives you compression, expansion, and limiting on 3 bands. There is great control of each band as well as easy to understand visual feedback on what each element of processing is doing to each individual band. This allows you to be as subtle as you like with each band / processor and really lends to the ‘transparent’ nature of the plugin. The thing I can say most in favor of the MXHD system is that you can truly get fantastically ‘controlled’ results in a matter of minutes that don’t sound hyper-compressed. The visual feedback of the plugin combined with the precision control of physical hardware make this plugin feel like a scalpel and I was quite impressed.
The color coding of the various processors made them easy to spot in each band’s response graph. These elements are even represented in the monochromatic display on the hardware - there are individual ‘Low / Middle / High’ meters as well as overall input/output meters. You can even view these meters and operate parameters of the plugin on the hardware without the plugin window open on your desktop. This is great because you now have your full arrange window to bounce around and work with while still retaining control and tweak-ability of MXHD.
At this price, this combo is pretty much a no-brainer if you’re in the market for precision dynamics control. Paired up with the Brickwall HD, you’ve got a rock solid mastering chain with physical control. On its own, the MXHD does a great job of gatekeeping dynamics and bringing the best out in a source with precision control. The hardware is well made and responsive, and the plugin is quite reasonably priced.
Pros: Excellent integration of hardware and software, responsive screen, well-designed UI, surgical control of dynamics, parallel processing available with mix control
Cons: I’d love to see a wireless/bluetooth version!