Input and output controls on the left, compression in the center, and EQ on the right give you many channel strip options in Classic Console Strip Pro.
Classic Console Strip Pro ($599; TDM-RTAS version, $1,199) extends Unique Recording Software's line of emulated vintage EQs and compressors, and it raises the bar significantly. This iLok-protected VST, AU, and RTAS plug-in combines an integrated channel strip (input stage, EQ, and compressor) with a fully modular signal path. Depending on the section, you'll find from 5 to 60 models that let you faithfully reproduce an entire vintage signal path, mix and match components from 1951 through 1980, or go with the uncolored, digital option.
You choose the input stage from a drop-down menu presenting 30 model algorithms, including tube stages, British Class A transformers, and tape machine heads. An intensity slider determines how much of the chosen color is applied (without affecting the input volume). A separate knob lets you boost or cut the input by up to 12 dB. Presets (called Starting Points) will configure the input-stage and compressor modules with logically matched choices. Alternatively, you can lock your input-stage choices to defeat the interdependence of the module settings.
GO WITH THE FLOW
The interactive Signal Flow display is useful and well implemented, with its labels updating as Pre/Post switches on various modules are changed. In a welcome touch, the display's buttons double as bypass switches, eliminating the hunt for each section's bypass.
The compressor section contains all the controls you expect on a modern compressor, including many that were not on the original hardware units. You can place the compressor pre- or post-EQ. Because the 60 available Starting Points model vintage hardware units among which there was little consistency, changing Starting Points even within the same algorithm family alters all the other compression parameters. Although this accomplishes the goal of truly emulating the hardware, it makes it fairly difficult to make A/B comparisons.
The compressor is fed by a lowpass and highpass filter module below it that you toggle between the internal signal and an external source for sidechaining. I found the implementation of the Threshold knob odd — turning it clockwise increases the amount of compression.
The EQ section has four fully parametric bands as well as the lowpass and highpass filters just mentioned. You can configure two of the bands as shelving filters, and each band has its own bypass button. You get a choice of five algorithms for each parametric EQ band. That makes Classic Console Strip Pro the EQ to beat for tonal flexibility (see Web Clips 1, 2, 3> and 4). It's worth noting that like the hardware it emulates, Classic Console Strip Pro doesn't offer a graphical EQ-curve display.
Input and output VU meters, along with a gain reduction meter, round out the control panel. A thoughtful option lets you choose linear (up and down) or circular mouse control.
Classic Console Strip Pro reports less than 1 sample of latency (at 44.1 kHz), and, although not a CPU hog, it does take some power. One stereo instance used about 25 percent of my aging 1 GHz PowerBook G4. A more limited but excellent-sounding and more CPU-efficient plug-in, Classic Console Strip, is included.
The documentation is well written and comprehensive, and it is necessary reading to get the most from this plug-in. For example, the intensity control on the input stage is a nice feature, but it isn't labeled, so its function is not immediately apparent. Mastering the shorthand for the various algorithm names also requires referencing the listings in the manual. Detailed as the algorithm names are, the actual names of specific pieces of gear are never used. URS didn't offer an explanation, but with a little bit of background, one might infer that the 1967 FET Limiter with the “4,” “8,” “12,” “20,” and “All” choices might be a model of a UREI 1176, or that the models called “TubeChild” could somehow be based on the Fairchild 660/670.
Classic Console Strip Pro lives up to the high goals it has set for itself. With all its algorithms and controls, you can achieve an almost limitless variety of timbres. Some of these, such as the various 15 and 30 ips tape input stages, are quite subtle, whereas others, like the tube stages, add color when driven hard. This is one of the most useful plug-ins I've seen for recording and mixing the staple instruments of rock.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Unique Recording Software