How to describe the sound of a plugin?

First, check this very cool article:

[Psychology of a Mix Engineer: Chris Carter]

And this is the most interesting (for me) part of it:

Q: What’s your go to digital compressor and what are you listening for when you use it?

Chris: There’s a few that I use very frequently but the one that I go to the most is probably the freeware guy called the “Molot”. It’s made by this Russian dude and I frigging love the thing. It’s got two modes and they are supposed to mimic a Neve 33609 and a Fairchild 670. I don’t really think either one is convincing but I don’t really give a rats ass how accurate it is [laughs]. I pretty much just use it in the “Fairchild 670″ mode. I don’t know what the heck is up with that guy but he understands attack and release characteristics really well. It’s almost damn near impossible to get that thing to sound bad, I swear to God. That’s my generic utility compressor because I like Optical Compression a lot.

Now, let’s talk about the thing that bothering me. After 2 years from Molot release, I think that mention of “Fairchild 670” and “Neve 33609” compressors in the description of Molot sound was not a good idea.

Imagine, I did Molot and now I should describe, how does it sound?
“The most accurate emulation of…?” No, it’s not emulation of anything.
“The most transparent sound?” No, it’s not transparent.
“Bus compressor?” No, it wasn’t designed in such way.
“Track compressor?” No, it’s too heavy to use on each track (at least 2 years ago).
“Mastering?” No again.
“Tube compressor?” No, I didn’t implement any kind of tube emulation.
“Opto compressor?” No, it doesn’t mimic opto-cell behavior (it has fixed attack/release times and feed-forward compression).
“Powerful?” No.
“Flexible?” No.
…and so on…

My initial description of Molot had words about “aggressive hammering sound” (don’t forget “Molot” is a “hammer” in Russian), “suits well for rock drums”, etc. I think, this kind of description is not correct, because I tell you where you should use this compressor and where you should not, e.g. I limit your creativity.

I already forgot the details but it was told, the compressor sounds like Fairchild in alpha mode and like 33609 in sigma mode. I never heard either real Fairchild or Neve. Also I didn’t try to emulate their sound. But in my opinion this description was better so I used it. Now why I’m so unhappy with it? It’s like “What kind of music does your band play?” question. “It’s like Children of Bodom”, that’s the answer. “Well, you band mimics CoB sound then.” And finally it looks a bit like the sound was stolen…

Current version of Molot page doesn’t try to convince you to get this plugin. Instead, it contains reasons why you shouldn’t do it! Freeware plugin can afford this 🙂 Really, I don’t want to change this. And I think, it’s cool! What is my final definition of Molot sound then? Check this out. It’s a dynamic tool to add a character to the track. It tends to make your sound “fat” and adds some feel of old guitar amp.


I also like the free Molot for smooth color. I use in on the 2buss after hardware comp just cause I like the sort of soft cushion or sag it gives.
Sort of like rectifier tubes in a gtr amp.

Yeah, yeah! That’s about it!

So what? In some future I will have the same problem to describe the sound of a new plugin. And I think, I’m ready for it!

9 responses to “How to describe the sound of a plugin?

  1. Clint Martin 2013/06/09 at 06:42

    Well I hate to argue with the guy that designed the thing, but It’s pretty good on just about anything. I like to have just a touch of compression on a mix before master (like .5 or 1 db). It’s great for some songs. It can also be used on the master…lightly for the right mojo. Do Russians use the word mojo?

    • vladgsound 2013/06/09 at 23:25

      There’s no such word in my native language. Maybe, that’s my problem to describe the sound? I just don’t have proper word in my head!

      Of course Molot can be used on anything, I know it 🙂 The moral of my (pretty depressive) post is do not use famous gear names to describe the sound. That’s it! 🙂

  2. Clint Martin 2013/06/10 at 03:41

    1.A magic charm, talisman, or spell.
    2.Magic power.
    Both of your plugins have major mojo!

  3. Dax Liniere 2013/06/10 at 18:15

    Vlad, great post. I always appreciate your honest and candid nature. 🙂
    Whatever you call it, it’s a great compressor! (Do I have to quote some Shakespeare?!)

  4. Justin Smith 2013/06/23 at 05:45

    Cool Stuff Man and thanks for the link to my article!!!. I’ve used your compressor (and limiter) before and I agree with Chris, your stuff sounds awesome.


  5. Ж 2013/06/29 at 00:00

    Отличная статья. И “Молот”. А сопроводительная документация к нему так и вообще гениальна 🙂

  6. Faderjockey 2013/08/07 at 21:22

    Hey I got quoted..it is great on my 2buss as I mentioned. Also been using it little more on bass and vocals. Sometimes as a parallel comp on vocals. Great stuff don’t let the price fool you…

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