Developer Pulsar Audio has released its plug-in take on the coveted 1178 hardware FET compressor. The 1178 is known as a more transparent-sounding and versatile variant of the famed Urei 1176 FET compressor and its numerous incarnations.
Pulsar 1178 FET compressor plug-in
First off, the developer aimed for a straight replica of the original hardware in terms of tonal color and compression character. But it also took the opportunity to make some meaningful improvements. These include a complete sidechain EQ and an analog saturation stage, both with full spectrum analysis and metering. This means you can come up with very meticulous and detailed compression with plenty of color if you need it.
By default, the 1178 compressor has a fast and bright character with an extended attack range. This contributes to its versatility, and this plug-in should be able to smash a room mic just as well as give you some gentle peak control. The sidechain EQ lends a helping hand when dealing with transient-heavy audio. It lets you take exactly what you need from the sidechain signal to trigger the compressor in a way appropriate to the music.
The saturation section is reasonably comprehensive. There are four modes – Tape, Triode, Warm, and Clip. In addition to the pleasing roughing up audio, the saturator integrates with the compressor. You can move the saturation before or after the compressor to affect the gain reduction circuit.
The metering section includes peak and RMS meters for the compressor, along with a scrolling view to visualize the attack and release settings’s impact on your audio. Likewise, the sidechain equalizer has a full spectrum analyzer with the EQ bands and filters represented as dots you can drag and move around. Definitely more than what one would expect out of a compressor plug-in!
Additionally, the Pulsar 1178 has built-in mid/side processing. It can handle the signal’s mono and stereo information separately, with different settings for both. You can also listen to each and monitor its visual metering in isolation. This makes the 1178 plug-in a great choice for mastering as well.
Lastly, Pulsar has been particularly smart about the 1178’s user interface. It’s fully resizable, and loading a mono instance of the compressor automatically shows a single channel view instead of two. It’s great little touches like that that demonstrate high competence from the developer and ease the user’s life a bit.
Price and availability
Pulsar 1178 is currently on sale for EUR 89, down from the regular price of EUR 149. That’s pretty fair considering what you are getting. The offer is good until March 14, 2021. There’s also loyalty pricing for Pulsar plug-in owners – EUR 59. A full-featured 14-day trial version can be downloaded for testing. The plug-in is available in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats for Windows 7 or later and macOS 10.8 or later.