The Tuco Compressor is based on vari-mu tube technology with feedback topology. Although it has similar characteristics to the classic Fairchild compressor, it is truly a different beast. With some added features this affordable plugin that is available on Windows and Mac OS, in AAX, AU, VST 2.4, and VST 3 versions, packs a punch.
The compressor has four modes,
- Fast Attack Compressor
- Slow Attack Compressor
- Fast Attack Limiter
- Slow Attack Limiter
Other Compressor functions include,
- Auto Makeup Gain control
- Release knob
- Dual Mono, Vintage Stereo, Modern Stereo modes
- Mix control for parallel compression
- Output tube saturation
- A/B switch for a/b comparison
- Optimized for real-time usage
The Tuco has a clean GUI, with a simple selectable
switch to change the mode on the compressor
detection circuit between fast or slow attack
compression and limiting.
The Amount (or ‘threshold’) can use an auto makeup gain circuitry negating the need to adjust the gain manually. To uses this feature, click on the “Amount” label. Additionally, the release and output knobs allow for some tweaking as needed. The mix knob is a great way to introduce parallel compression onto the instrument of choice, and the SC HP (side-chain high-pass filter) is a handy addition when working on the mix bus or other low-end heavy instruments.
Another hidden feature is the ability to change the Mix knob to work before or after the output stage. Again, a click on the “Mix” label will allow you to alternate between these modes. The Drive knob adjusts the amount of tube style saturation and can come in handy when needing a little extra lift.
Try making a parallel vocal track inserting the Tuco with the drive all the way up, add some heavy compression, then blend that back into the original signal for some vital vocal presence.
Tuco has some welcome non-conventional features that allow the side-chain detection and signal processing to respond differently in optional modes. The default, shown by the “SV” label in the top right of the GUI is changeable between Stereo Vintage, Stereo Modern, Dual Mono, and Mono. The Stereo Vintage mode is the most open and musical while the Dual Mono mode will allow some interesting movement in the stereo field.
At the price point this compressor goes for, I was expecting something cheap and kitsch, that was not the case. Although there is no side-chain input, the compressor has plenty of options. The compression was natural and musical. While the overall tonality of the compressor is on the brighter side, it was not unwanted.
On the mix bus, I noticed it added some beautiful subtle harmonics that brightened my mix, giving energy to the percussion in the track. At the same time nearly everything I tried it on, benefited in some way. The extra features quickly allow you to try different configurations to get something usable in a short space of time. As we all know, speed while mixing is paramount! Compressors that have too many features or are too “tweaky” can often lead you down a rabbit hole, and then you forget….wait what was I talking about?
Tuco is a small but mighty plugin compressor that for a considerably low price will have you smiling.
Included are some of my favorite presets available to download for Pro Tools:
I SPENT A SMALL PART OF MY CAREER WORKING BEHIND SOME OF THE BIGGEST PRODUCERS IN THE BUSINESS, PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR U2, DEPECHE MODE, BLUR, COLDPLAY, AND MANY MORE. MY MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT WAS RECORDING 11 TIMES GRAMMY WINNER JOHN LEGEND. I SPEND MOST OF HIS TIME, MIXING AND MASTERING AND AM AVAILABLE FOR HIRE. BOOKING(AT)DANIELHOLSINGER.COM
FB: www.facebook.com/danielholsingermusic – Instagram: @daniel.holsinger