Bettermaker | 502V Compressor
When Polish engineer Marek from Bettermaker announced last year he was making their first compressor little did I know that he meant three would be along at once!
The new Bettermaker 502V compressor is housed in a design based upon their current 500-series compatible EQ's but with some exceptions that make this no ordinary compressor. Not content with creating their first compressor in 500-series format, Bettermaker has gone one step further and created 3 different compressors within this single unit.
As well as their familiar very high-quality metal styling and layout, it includes their total recall via DAW plug-in and USB connection. In the same way as their EQ units, this means you can recall any of the parameters from within the session of your workstation of choice.
Because you can recall via a Plug-in, and the appearance and styling of Bettermaker products sometimes I get asked if they're digital signal processors.
The answer is no.
These are totally analogue EQ's and compressors, they react like analogue, and feel like analogue - because they are!
What they are though is Digitally Controlled analogue, which is where the recall via software and the option to store presets on the devices themselves, comes into play. The two digital and analogue power supply paths and internal layout have been designed as to not interfere with each other sonically. And it really works.
I was lucky enough to be given the original demo Bettermaker 230 Rack EQ a few years ago whilst on the KMR booth at a trade show and I was totally impressed with the sonics of the first unit. This was a totally unique design and approach to the hybrid workflow. It seems only now, a few years later, that some manufacturers are starting to see the benefit of digital recalled hardware. However, just making this work is one thing but it always has to sound great first.
This is what Bettermaker excel at. Their EQ's are extremely musical and really thought out. I mean hey, who doesn't want an analogue Pultec and parametric EQ with filters and DAW recall that sounds great?...
The new compressor can surely only add to their increasing popularity as Bettermaker now have various versions of their EQ available in the 500-series, both with front panel controls and some via software only.
Three In One
So the Bettermaker C502V has three compressor modes within the one unit :
- BM : For a gentle Mastering Mode but with unique attack behaviour and this has the widest range of settings
- SG : Classic British VCA inspired buss compressor
- DX : Based upon the aggressive Classic 160A style
The C502V doesn't stop there, having the following features :
- Digital recall via USB *
- Plug-in DAW control
- USB Sidechain ( which you use like a plug-in - no physical i/o required )
- Stereo / Dual mono and M/S mode - ( You can compress Mid and Side signal individually )
- Wet/Dry for both channels
- Unit to unit internal linking - so you don't need to have USB cables in the front of multiple units if used side-by-side in a 500-series enclosure.
How does it sound ?
Well, in a word, awesome.
Sometimes a piece of gear comes along that just appeals in every way and this is the case here, some audio examples are below of the three difference compressor 'types' :
Bettermaker C502V BM
Bettermaker C502V SG
Bettermaker C502V DX
3 Better Than 1
This is a really well thought out design and the 3 compressor types will certainly appeal as will the option to use M/S and recall via your DAW. The price of £949 inc vat is extremely competitive, especially when thinking that some single compressors are more money and don't sound as good as the C502V.
My favourite mode was the BM version, which Bettermaker say is their cleanest and most flexible, and I found it to be extremely musical but still capable of adding some weight. The DX mode was also great at recreating that classic 160 Drum Smash, with the extra M/S mode and High Pass Filter making it even more fun!
One very flexible compressor.
* Currently as this article is posted the DAW Plug-in Software isn't available, but having spoken to Marek from Bettermaker he will have the plug-in fully functioning ready for release at Musikmesse in March 2016