Plugin Review: McDSP 6030
I am a little bit in love with this compressor.
Or should I say “suite of compressors.”
The value of McDSP 6030 isn’t in its full-featured-ness as a compressor, it’s in the fact that it’s basically 10 simpler compressors, each with different characteristics, that can be switched seamlessly. There’s everything from a simple one-knob, LA-2A style opto compressor to a feed-forward dbx160 type compressor, making it incredibly versatile.
Of course this raises the question “so, okay, it’s versatile, but how does it sound?”
A valid question, since there are a few multi-tool compressors and EQs that are only sort of okay at what they do. But in a word, 6030 sounds great. It’s warm, punchy, and some of the models can be driven extremely hard. The McDSP-designed “FRG444” can squash a signal down to a mere suggestion of the original dynamics (although to be fair I’ve not yet found an actual use for this one).
The collection of compressors includes emulations of a Fairchild670, a Neve 33609, an LA-2A, a Mu-Tube, and then…well, to be honest none of them are exact models, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s a vaguely dbx160ish one called “Over-EZ”, something kind of SSL-esque called “SST76”, a compressor modeled on the Empirical Distressor called “D357”, an one mystifyingly called “iComp” which is blue, seems to be an intelligent-ratio kind of thing but is basically an all-original creation. None of these compressors is dead-on – the U670 for example has slightly different ballistics and doesn’t have the Lat/Vert controls of an actual Fairchild 670. The Opto-C deosn’t sound exactly like an LA-2A. But they all “feel”, for lack of a better word, like high quality compressors of that design. U670 feels like a vintage tube-based compressor, British-C feels like a Neve – the response from the compressor is what you’d expect from those pieces of hardware, even if they’re not dead-on impersonations. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of interpretation – for me, it’s good, since I’m not too concerned with sounding exactly like I have a vintage Fairchild in my basement, merely that I have a good, smooth, tube-y compressor for vocals.
As both a blessing and a curse, the makeup gain stage of 6030 saturates instead of straight-up clipping, so once you’ve compressed the signal you can crank the makeup gain well beyond what would normally be a digital over. The saturation algorithm used is generally pretty smooth but overuse on many tracks can of course make things muddy.
The price of McDSP 6030 (native – TDM/RTAS costs more) is $229, which for an individual compressor plugin is a bit on the higher end side. However, for that price you get a very flexible compressor toolbox that outclasses a lot of plugins in the same pricerange.