There are few pieces of audio hardware that inspire the awe and reverence of the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. Created by Shadow Hills Industries’ enigmatic mastermind Peter Reardon, this prized five-rackspace studio behemoth expertly tempers dynamics and tames transients like no other mastering compressor in history.

With its serial, two-stage dynamics control and switchable output transformer matrix, the SHMC is capable of providing everything from a velvet touch to an iron fist — making it the go-to compressor on recordings by Muse, Green Day, Gnarls Barkley, Coldplay, John Mayer, Regina Spektor, and more.

Working in partnership with Brainworx, Shadow Hills Industries is proud to introduce its hallmark Mastering Compressor as an exclusive UAD Powered Plug-In.

Three Majestic Compressors in One: The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor starts with a world-class signal path and flexible stereo or dual mono operation. But the genius of the Mastering Compressor lies in its ability to control music dynamics in two stages — first with an Optical section, then with a Discrete (VCA) section. Both sections can be bypassed, effectively providing three compression sounds (Optical, Discrete, and combined) in a single unit.

The Optical section is highly program dependent, with basic Threshold and Gain settings, and a two-stage release time akin to the classic LA-2A. Use the Optical section to gently tame your dynamic range, and bring up the overall level.

The Discrete section takes over where the Optical section leaves off, and provides a more aggressive sound with precise control over gain, threshold, ratio, attack, and release. Taken together, this flexible design allows the Mastering Compressor to deliver a wide range of beauty-to-beast tones — whether tracking, mixing, or mastering.

Switchable Output Transformers Nickel, Iron, and Steel: The Mastering Compressor’s tonal arsenal is extended by a unique matrix which allows selection between three output transformers: Nickel, Iron, and Steel.

By switching the selected transformer type in and out of the signal path, you can hear the different frequency response, distortion characteristics, and transient limiting of each transformer — going from “clean” (Nickel), to “colored” (Iron), to “dirty” (Steel). This is like being able to audition the output sections of three distinct vintage analog consoles. And remember, transformer selection is independent from the dynamics sections detailed above.

Compressor In Use: Whether you use the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor on a vocal chain, drum buss, or on the master fader, its unique control and character will inspire creativity. Try sultry female vocals with gentle Optical compression, sidechain filter out, and Nickel transformer selection. Or bypass the Optical section and go straight to the Discrete VCA section and Steel transformer for adding massive character and punch to drum sounds.

Mastering is, of course, the most subtle use of the SHMC. Dial in 1dB of Optical gain reduction and 2dB of Discrete gain reduction. Select a ratio of 1.2:1, an attack time of 30 milliseconds, and a recover time of 0.1 seconds. Set the 90 Hz sidechain filter in, and select the transformer matrix to taste.

A final application of the Mastering Compressor is to bypass the Optical and Discrete sections altogether, and pass signal through the transformer matrix only, just for the color it imparts.

Key Features: Meticulous emulation of the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, licensed and endorsed by Peter Reardon. Created by Brainworx, developed exclusively for the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform. Separate Optical and Discrete (VCA) dynamics sections for two-stage serial dynamics control. Separate Threshold and makeup Gain for each dynamics section.

Transformer matrix switches between Nickel, Iron, and Steel output transformers – like selecting between 3 distinct vintage console outputs. 90 Hz sidechain filtering for musical compression of low-frequency program material. Large VU meters for Optical, Discrete, or Output gain views. Custom presets created by Shadow Hills founder and designer Peter Reardon. Requires UAD-2 DSP Accelerator or Apollo Interface, available from dealers worldwide.

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ARTICLE: Universal Audio
EDITOR: Noiseman