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New three band compressor / expander with comprehensive controls for a very wide range of sounds.
Mastered artists include Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Costello, Chet Baker, k.d. lang, Viktor Vaughn, Cäthe a.o.
“The Maselec MLA-4 can be instrumental in saving mixes that need fixing. It may, however, be used quite efficiently on many
mastering jobs. A true time saver. It is not a “vibe” multiband compressor like the Drawmer S3 or the Tube-Tech SMC-2B. It
has ample headroom on its input and output stages, but since it is electronically balanced it has no coloration and a stated
bandwidth greater than 1Hz to 500kHz.
The MLA-4 shines in that it is surprisingly transparent even at band gain reductions of some -8dB; not that I ever needed this
much gain reduction, but I like to “torture” new gear to find it's limitations. The MLA-4 performed flawlessly with no audible
distortion even at shortest attack and release times across a broad variety of musical genres. Leif Masses chose different
time constants for each of the three bands making it virtually impossible to cause audible distortion – very clever. In fact
programme dependent circuits reduce the distortion and speed up the release for short duration transients in the LF band.
The crossovers use 6dB/octave filters that sum extremely well. However, the unit only has 4 crossover frequencies to choose
from per band, while Tube-Tech provides 6x2 frequencies per band and the Drawmer 8 for the low-to-mid and 10 for the midto-
high crossover frequencies. This limitation is debatable, but I believe it lets you work faster.
The main advantage over any other analogue multiband dynamics processor that I know of is the MLA-4s ability to upward
expand, i.e. providing compression ratios smaller than 1:1. Each band has selectable ratios of 6:1, 3:1, 2:1, 1.6:1, 1.4:1
(downward compression ratios), 1:1 (“bypass”), 1:1.2, 1:1.4, 1:1.6, 1:1.8 and 1:2 (upward expansion ratios). Upward
expansion can for example help bring back lost dynamics above set threshold for mixes that have been overzealously buss
compressed during the mix stage. One band may be compressing while an other is expanding. What is more, the side-chains
may be linked, opening up a plethora of options not available anywhere else: The LF side-chain may be linked to either the
MF or the HF band or both. This can be quite useful for EDM tracks where additional “pumping” may be desired. The
selected LF side-chain triggered bands may use their upward expansion circuit in addition to the LF triggered compression
for some interesting and flexible amplitude envelope shaping-very cool! A fourth mode labelled “Linked” allows for the MLA-4
to be used as a “full”-band stereo compressor.
The HF band has an “s/c boost” switch. When engaged (indicated by a red LED) it provides a high frequency boost in the
side chain, thus compressing (or expanding) higher, often harsh and sibilant frequencies more. This provides some sort of
de-essing, without the need to lower the HF band's threshold. Very useful, though I generally use a Maselec MPL-2 HFlimiter
All controls are stepped for easy recall, input and output gains of ±5dB are selectable in 0.5dB steps. A master threshold
control acts across all bands in addition to the individual band threshold controls. An “output select” dial is used for solo
monitoring individual bands when needed or galvanically bypassing the unit.
I've had this unit for close to 5 months now and have put it through its paces. Truly stellar!”
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