Kush Audio uses some big words to advertise Silika, its new compressor plug-in. They claim that they’ve “completely closed the analog/digital gap” and that Silika is “sonically identical” to the types of hardware it’s modeled after. Has Kush Audio achieved the unachievable?
Kush Audio Silika
Kush Audio isn’t an emulation of any particular hardware compressor. Instead, it seeks to recreate the sound of “one particular flavor of vintage compressors that clip beautifully” in a plug-in. The developer claims that it sounds “just as good” as if you were using analog gear.
Silika is a combination of a diode saturation / distortion stage and a compressor. The signal first enters the diode stage, which is based on emulations of 1973 ADR Compex input and output transformers and a 1969 Neve 2254 diode-bridge gain reduction circuit. For the diodes, you can choose from Zener and Germanium options. According to Kush Audio, under the hood is an “extraordinarily complex harmonic distortion generator”. The large input knob drives the diodes, which allows for anything from subtle saturation to gritty, organic distortion. There’s also a blend knob to mix the dry and saturated signals.
The compressor offers four selectable ratios (2:1, 4:1, 12:1, 20:1) and attack and release knobs. Just like on certain vintage compressors, you can use the input knob to drive the compressor and set the desired amount of compression, along with driving the diode engine. But there’s also a threshold knob that lets you control the compression independently. The compressor also offers a mix control, but it should be pointed out that instead of mixing the compressed and dry signals, this blends the compressed signal into whatever comes out of the blend knob in the diode section.
For the internal sidechain, Silika offers a high pass filter and a boost feature, which is a bell EQ that boosts the sidechain signal by up to 9 dB at the selected frequency. The plug-in also supports external sidechain signals, but the HPF and boost feature are disabled in this case.
Unleash the fury
If you’re after an even more aggressive sound, the fury button “multiplies everything by 10, literally”, according to Kush Audio. In fury mode, Silika produces even more complex distortion and even faster attack and release times than in standard mode.
The level meter is an adaptation of the tri-meter display from the company’s Tweaker hardware. It displays input and output levels, gain reduction or all three at the same time.
Kush Audio is making some pretty bold claims about Silika, which may be exaggerating it a little bit. But from what I’ve heard so far, the plug-in does indeed sound very nice! It’s definitely worth checking out.
Price and compatibility
Kush Audio Silika is available from the developer’s website, where you can also download a demo version. The plug-in costs USD 99. It’s also included in the Kush Complete Bundle subscription, which is USD 9.99/month.
Silika runs on macOS 10.13 or higher and Windows 8 or higher in VST, AAX and AU formats (64 bit). It requires a free iLok account (or dongle) for authorization.