New Music Gear Monday: Fuse Audio Lab VCE-118 Dynamic Range Enhancer Plugin

It’s well-know that the dbx 160 compressor is one of the most revered analog devices, not only because of its simplicity, but because of its sound. It’s been my go-to on kick and snare compressor for years, going from the real analog hardware version to a plugin emulation version. I’ve tried other more modern compressors, but keep on going back to the 160. That said, it’s always nice when a plugin developer looks at an analog product and decides to expand on the features a bit, and that’s what you’ll find in the Fuse Audio Labs VCE-118 dynamic range enhancer plugin.

Fuse Audio Lab VCE-118 dynamic range plugin

The beautiful feature of the 160-style compressor is the fact that the attack and release are program dependent so there are no parameter controls needed. A side effect of it’s VCA-based operation is that it allows for the transients of drums and percussion to get through while compressing the body of the sound, providing the punch that modern engineers are looking for.

More Control

That’s were the VCE-118 comes in. It’s large center ratio control offers compression ratios ranging between 1:1 and ∞:1, and expansion between 1:1 and 1:2, which can be a very cool feature in your tool box. As you might expect, the intensity of the effect can be tweaked with the THRESHOLD control, with its familiar Below and Above indicators showing the compression status. To the left there’s also a mode button that switches between regular gain reduction or expansion, where only levels above the threshold are processed, to LINEAR operation which affects the full level both above and below the threshold.

There are also a couple of other, almost hidden, features that are useful in certain situations. Above the output level TRIM control there are two screw-type parameters. The first on the left labeled HR is to raise or lower the headroom of the plugin, while MIX controls the level of wet to dry signal for a parallel compression effect.

The VCE-118 is currently on sale for only $29, but it will return to its normal price of $50 on April 29th. Yes, it’s available for Mac (Apple Silicon) and PC in all the most used plugin formats.

You can find out more here, or watch the video below.

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