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The COMPRESSOR LIMITER 522 brings state of the art industry dynamics control to a compact 500 Series format processor that is good enough to wear the Midas name. When used in conjunction with the LEGEND L10, L6, or other standard 500 Series rackmount chassis, the 522 provides the ideal solution for users seeking the legendary Midas sound in a modular format that boasts upgraded, premium-quality performance. Additionally, the 522's dynamic Presence control enables operators to add "air" to vocals without the unwanted noise or pumping effects found in competing products – and reduces the risk of feedback occurrence during live performance.
Dynamics play a major role in music; they help to convey emotion, whether it's a sultry blues guitar solo, a vocalist belting out his/ her message – or the punchy impact of a bass guitar or kick drum. Those dynamics are the essence of a natural sounding performance; it is what makes music interesting. But out of control dynamics can instantly mar an otherwise perfect performance. That is where compression comes to the rescue – softening loud sounds and boosting low signal levels that can often get lost in the mix. The resulting compressed signal creates a much more dense, impactful sound with richness and room for subtle nuances to come through.
The range of mid-high audio frequencies (centered around 5 kHz) can be boosted to increase the sense of presence of vocals and solo instruments. As 522's Presence control is adjusted above minimum, those mid-high frequencies are increasingly boosted during compression, allowing a sound or instrument to cut through or seem more present in the mix. This variable presence function enables the 522 to effectively operate with two different ratios, one for low frequencies (LF) and the other for mid-high frequencies (reduced ratio). The primary effects are: heavy compression and dynamic control can be applied without sounding unnatural; and the reduced compression in the human ear's most sensitive range makes the material sound brighter. However, since high frequency (HF) make up gain is not required, unwanted noise, pumping, and howl-round during quiet passages are all greatly reduced.
When operating in its default mode (Auto switch not engaged) the 522 functions as a peak-sensing compressor, providing tight peak control via instantaneous changes in gain reduction, which produces more obvious compression. This allows the operator to manually adjust the compressor attack and release times so that the compressor operates in peak mode with linear attack curves. When the Auto switch is engaged, the manual attack and release controls are bypassed and the compressor operates in RMS mode, automatically adjusting the attack and release based on the averaged input signal and the threshold/ratio settings. This produces a smooth, more relaxed compression that is perceived as more musical and natural sounding.
Another element that affects how natural the output sounds when compressed is how the signal is addressed at and around the knee, or threshold point. By default the 522 is set to Soft knee compression (switch out), which tends to sound more natural as it blurs the distinction between over and under threshold signals, leaving signals below threshold unaffected, while signals just over threshold get compressed at greatly reduced ratios. Only at the point where the signal level rises significantly above the threshold is full-ratio compression applied. This performance is similar to that of many vintage compressors due to non-linearities in gain reduction. When the Hard knee switch is activated, the 522 operates in a more surgical fashion with a more sharply defined transition between under and over threshold, making it ideal for limiting style compression. In this mode a small amount of Soft knee is retained to keep the sound reasonably natural.