Review: Lindell – 354E from Plugin Alliance

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Lindell Audio, a famous audio hardware manufacturer from Sweden, started a while ago creating it´s own audio plug-ins. I first came across to Lyndell Audio by the Lindell Audio 6X-500 CM which is a special edition of the 6X-500 which was released by the Computer Music Magazine.

The 6X-500 plug-in is a Class-A Preamp and Passive Boost Only EQ hardware emulation of it’s same named real brother. This device took my attention immediately as it sounded amazing.

After the release of Lindell Audio 354E, which is a multi-band version of the legendary Neve 2254/E Broadcast Limiter, my curiosity was quite high to see if this plug-in can achieve my high expectations. Luckily enough, Plugin Alliance (https://www.plugin-alliance.com) provided us a copy for a test drive.

Features of the 354E

  • Faithfully models the most famous vintage diode bridge compressor, the Neve 2254E, in each of its three independent frequency bands
  • Adjustable crossover frequencies between bands allow you to home in on where compression is needed most
  • Ratios range, in five steps, from 1.5:1 for mastering and master-bus compression to as high as 6:1 for shaping individual tracks
  • Switchable Nuke mode over-compresses tracks to dramatic effect
  • Mid/Side mode focuses compression on mid or side channel—or in stereo—for surgical precision
  • Highpass filter in sidechain lends greater punch to compressed drums, bass guitar and other bass-heavy instruments
  • Switchable Niveau filter tilts sidechain’s frequency response to preserve bass energy—great for creating the killer API “thrust” compression effect
  • Mix control provides instant parallel processing, especially useful for blending radically compressed signal with pristine dry input when compressing drums, adding density to rock guitars and more
  • Bands can be linked and soloed
  • Adjustable, wide-ranging attack and release controls include blazing-fast 2µsec attack time for radical compression and Auto release for artifact-free processing
  • Optional auto-makeup gain for each band
  • Three-way meter displays I/O and gain-reduction levels in turn
  • Internal operating levels can be calibrated in nine 1dB steps for precise mastering applications
  • Resizable user interface and up to 16x oversampling for digital precision in any environment

A bit of history

The Neve 2254 was designed in the late 1969 by David Rees as a limiter/compressor for broadcasting purposes. An interesting fact is that the 2254 is using a diode bridge to achieve gain reduction. Most other compressors are using different voltage control devices such as VCA’s, transistors or tubes. Later, Neve did release several other versions of the 2254 including the Neve 2254E. This “E” version was the role model for Lindell to create the Lindell 354E plug-in.

Image from gearslutz.com

Legal Disclaimer (from the Plugin Alliance website):
Neve and 2254E are registered trademarks of AMS/Neve Inc. The Lindell 354E was developed by Lindell Audio based on its own modeling techniques. AMS/Neve has not endorsed nor sponsored the 354E in any manner, nor licensed any intellectual property for use in this product.

UNDER THE HOOD

A important difference between the original hardware and the 354E is that Lindell’s version is a Multi-Band compressor, which splits the frequency spectrum into three bands. Each band has phase coherent 6dB/oct filters and offers exactly the same set of controls. There are the usual control knobs for threshold, ratio, attack, recovery (release) and gain.

In addition to that each band has it’s own dBu meter, a meter switch to switch between input level, gain reduction and output level and 3 switches for activating or disabling the band, to solo the band and an M/S (mid/side) switch. The M/S switch applies the compression only to ether the side signal or the mid signal.

Below the section with the three bands is a side chain knob, two crossover frequency knobs, a mix knob, the master gain knob and 4 switches. The side chain knob controls the frequency of the side chain high pass filter. With this knob the low end of a signal can be removed from the compressor section. If the know is fully turned down the side chain is deactivated.

The two crossover knobs are self explanatory and change the crossover frequency between the lower and the higher band. Last but not least the mix knob sets the mixture of the dry and to wet signal. This allows parallel compression for example.

Finally the master gain knob controls the resulting output level. Thats it? No not really. There are 4 more switches which where quickly mentioned above. These switches are named NUKE, NIVEAU, LINK and BYPASS. The bypass know does just bypass everything and the link knob links all parameters from the individual bands, but what do these other two mysterious switches?

NUKE & NIVEAU

Nuke and niveau sounds more like an album from a 70ties band than switches on a compressor to me but these little buttons can change the sound of the 354E in a dramatic way and do have a very high impact on the behavior of the compression.

The nuke switch was created to ‘creatively overload’ the compressor. The main idea behind this was to over compress the signal to achieve very strong squashed compression with artefact’s. Can be useful on drums, over-hats, room mic’s or even vocals.

For a more natural and transparent behavior of the compressor the niveau switch can be enabled. the switch enables filters on the compressor’s side chains. Especially in mastering situations this feature will ensure a more natural and homogeneously sounding result.

Watch the Lindell 354E demo
video by Plugin Alliance

ITS ALL ABOUT THE SOUND

The sound of this compressor is best described with the words warm and aggressive. This massive box can push your drums for example like hell and pump them up for that super fat wall of sound! There is definitely a tendency towards more warm, analogue sounding results. If the compressor is not driven to hard it can also sound quite smooth and gentle. I enjoined the easiness to set all parameters for all bands. It really shines on acoustic drum busses and glues everything together perfectly.

The 354E likes uncompressed and “raw” signals the best and there you can really add a lot of punch and drive to the mix. On already strong compressed mixes/ signals this compressor may be not the perfect choice. This can be heard on the second example of my short demo video. To warm up any signal like vocals, drums, digital synthesizers this device does it perfect. The mid/ side compression is very handy but I wish to have both at the same time. Maybe this is a feature that will come in a further update.

354E is available as AAX Native-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3 for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) from Plugin Alliance for a time-limited introductory promo price of $129.00 USD, rising to $199.00 USD.
(Owners of 254E qualify for a special introductory price of $79.00 USD via an email voucher valid throughout April 2017.)

For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated 354E webpage here:
Plugin Alliance | Lindell 354e

Review summary
  • Overall Sound Quality
  • Features
  • Stability
  • Workflow
  • Pricing

Summary

You want that big warm analoge wall of sound? The Lindell 354E can push your drums for example like hell and pump them up. It really shines on acoustic drum busses and glues everything together perfectly. or lets say it with the words from Dana Nielson: "Most multiband compressors, for good reason, are pretty sterile. The Lindell 345E however is a vibe machine with character for days, a lethal combination of accuracy and attitude. And it’s got a ‘mix’ knob!"

4.4

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