UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor Plug-In

I used a $100 coupon to bring the price of this UAD Shadow Hills plugin down a bit and I think, even at full retail, the plugin is totally brilliant. I've never used the hardware version and there's no chance I'll ever use one but regardless of how close or dissimilar to the hardware original the plugin sounds amazing and really adds three-dimensional sound to the stereo bus.

This thing looks so amazing that I was worried that I was letting my eyes fool my ears but I tried it for two weeks on all kinds of material and on everything it just made things sound deeper, wider, more focused, and coherent. I was even running tracks from iTunes through it and it made them better as well. Vocals went from being centered to being right in your face without collapsing the stereo field. The results are just brilliant.

Basically, I just mix my project and get everything just the way I want it and, at the end, I slap this on the 2-bus and call up a mastering preset, tweak it a smidge, and the whole song just pulls together in a way I could never achieve without it. The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor does not sound, to my ears, like other 'glue' limiters do.

At first sight one might be completely overwhelmed but it doesn't take long to see that it's not much more complicated than any other compressor / limiter and it rather intuitive to operate. Special features include a choice of three different transformer options (nickel, iron, and steel) and both optical and VCA (voltage-controlled amplifier) dynamics on both channels, as well as side-chaining.

Highly recommended.