A huge part of Eventide's identity lies in their lineage in modern recorded music and the resulting imprint these contributions have left on the landscape of record making. Imagine your record collection without the H3000, or the Reverb 2016 [Tape Op #48], for that matter. The list goes on and on and extends to the present day with the H9000. This is all information anyone can note, but my favorite thing about these products is the renegade nature behind them. For a company that makes such hi-fi and cutting-edge gear, there is an informed "fuck it" vibe here and again, or bravery, if you will, with a willingness to take risks sonically and otherwise. The original Omnipressor is a perfect example of this spirit. Invented by Richard Factor [#130], it was introduced in the early '70s; first, with the notorious white faceplate layout (that by all accounts was nebulous and confusing), followed by the more common 2830 format, then a redesign by John Paul soon thereafter. Check out Richard's video on the history of the Omnipressor www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6upBgu61hE. Even with the last upgrade in both functionality and usability, it still shipped with a pretty intense disclaimer: "Your Omnipressor loves you and wants to be your friend. If you don't understand it, if you don't fondle its controls properly, it will cause you hours of confusion, and tempt you to dash it on the rocks or put it in a sack and drown it. PLEASE READ this applications section before blaming your Omnipressor for malfeasance or deviltry." See what I mean? Pretty daring for a young company back then. It was the first compressor with sidechain capabilities, and the first to sport a lookahead feature. The above alone is enough to get me interested. And the whole idea spawned from a chat that Factor had with Mark Weiss, who was using something called a homomorphic filter to forensically scrub the Nixon tapes? I'm downloading now!
Compression is one of the more divisive topics in audio; there are as many opinions, favorites, and techniques as there are engineers. When I was coming up, there was a host of folks doing cool weird shit with compression that seemed "outside" of the techniques that I was taught. I became enamored with the recordings of Tchad Blake [Tape Op #16, #133] and Brian Paulson [#78] and started trying to use compression as more than just a tool to fix problems. Following their examples, I began abusing compression, and it has been a part of my technique ever since. This was before Empirical Labs' founder Dave Derr [#33] left Eventide to take the Omnipressor idea in a new direction with his ubiquitous EL-8X Distressor [#32], so one had to work harder to get some misbehavior to happen, like pushing all the ratio buttons in, etc. If this is your bag too, stop reading now and buy the Omnipressor plug-in. Describing what exactly an Omnipressor does isn't so simple. This "dynamics-modifier" claims to control all facets of a source's dynamics, with variable attack and release times, a built-in gate and sidechain, finished off with a wet/dry mix control. It's incredibly effective as a dynamics controller, and the amount of control is such that we can create musical and exciting artifacts that are not easily achievable in other processors. From peak limiting to all out dynamic reversal, and everything in between – it's all in there. Even less sexy functions, like gating and expansion, are insanely effective and can be pushed into gnarly territories.
I was mixing a record recently for a band with a spectacular vibe. Sadly, the drummer's performance was, shall we say, anemic. No worries. I pulled out the Omnipressor, and within seconds I turned a lackluster performance into something with pizazz. High Bias engineer Evan Michals walked in as I was mixing and said, "That drummer is a beast!" Problem solved. I've had similar luck expanding material with too little dynamic variance. This is particularly effective with guitar and drums but also super handy for making a bass line weave in and out of a mix. I really love what the Omnipressor does to vocals. I use the infinite compression setting on the vocal bus with the wet/dry mix knob to dial in some parallel compression, adding character while allowing for easy placement even in dense rock mixes. The user interface is faithful to the original and can be a little befuddling. The Omnipressor can do so much, and its controls are so reactive and unique, that it's easy to push it to extremes and get lost. Thankfully the presets are good starting points and a radical way to figure out how the Omnipressor actually works. I'm not a preset guy at all but in this case, presets can definitely be a boon to the unfamiliar venturing into the enchanted forest that is extreme dynamics. The wet/dry mix control also lets us get the perfect blend between the aforementioned extremes and a dry signal. I'm constantly surprised by how cool something that is heavily processed by Omnipressor can sound; if it's too mangled or over the top for a song, I can blend in some dry signal, and the result is downright gratifying – I can get all the character I want while retaining definition. The Omnipressor shines on synths and drum machines. If you make electronic music, buy this plug-in!
If it's not obvious at this point, I really love the Omnipressor plug-in. I'd also add that it seems to be light on my computer's processor. I've been using it as a gate a lot – it's my favorite for drums. All in all, the Omnipressor is a stellar dynamics plug-in capable of a staggering amount of tasks from the functional to the extreme and, at this price, it's a steal.