Plugin Review: McDSP 6030
I am a little bit in love with this compressor.
Or should I say â€œsuite of compressors.â€
The value of McDSP 6030 isnâ€™t in its full-featured-ness as a compressor, itâ€™s in the fact that itâ€™s basically 10 simpler compressors, each with different characteristics, that can be switched seamlessly.Â Thereâ€™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 â€œso, okay, itâ€™s versatile, but how does it sound?â€
A valid question, since there are a few multi-tool compressors and EQs that are only sort of okay at what they do.Â But in a word, 6030 sounds great.Â Itâ€™s warm, punchy, and some of the models can be driven extremely hard. The McDSP-designed â€œFRG444â€ can squash a signal down to a mere suggestion of the original dynamics (although to be fair Iâ€™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 thenâ€¦well, to be honest none of them are exact models, but thatâ€™s not a bad thing.Â Thereâ€™s a vaguely dbx160ish one called â€œOver-EZâ€, something kind of SSL-esque called â€œSST76â€, a compressor modeled on the Empirical Distressor called â€œD357â€, an one mystifyingly called â€œiCompâ€ which is blue, seems to be an intelligent-ratio kind of thing but is basically an all-original creation.Â None of these compressors is dead-on â€“ the U670 for example has slightly different ballistics and doesnâ€™t have the Lat/Vert controls of an actual Fairchild 670.Â The Opto-C deosnâ€™t sound exactly like an LA-2A.Â But they all â€œfeelâ€, for lack of a better word, like high quality compressors of that design.Â U670 feels like a vintage tube-based compressor, British-C feels like a Neve â€“ the response from the compressor is what youâ€™d expect from those pieces of hardware, even if theyâ€™re not dead-on impersonations.Â Whether this is good or bad is a matter of interpretation â€“ for me, itâ€™s good, since Iâ€™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 youâ€™ve compressed the signal you can crank the makeup gain well beyond what would normally be a digital over.Â 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 â€“ TDM/RTAS costs more) is $229, which for an individual compressor plugin is a bit on the higher end side.Â However, for that price you get a very flexible compressor toolbox that outclasses a lot of plugins in the same pricerange.