Note the notched Knob, which limit the sharpness of tuning but at that price However I tested it, and it is clear he is far from transparent. A big worry to report: the simple act of connecting one output to the console and electrically connected sends a significant buzz in the sound! Even MDX off!
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Compressor may lack character for some applications. Unlike normal enhancers, this one tracks the gain reduction to add more enhancement during times of heavy compression. Further switches are provided to monitor the compressor side-chain and to switch to an external side-chain input signal. This meter also registers any gain reduction due to limiter operation.
Unlike the expander, which has an Off position on the threshold control, the compressor has a bypass button, as does the de-esser that follows it. The de-esser uses what Behringer call their Voice Adaptive Design, though the description in the manual is somewhat vague when it comes to explaining exactly which range of frequencies is attenuated. Certainly the controls are simple, with one knob to set the level of attenuation when de-essing is taking place and a button to adjust the processing for male or female voice types — this provides two preset filter options for sibilance detection.
A four-LED meter shows how much de-essing is being applied. Fast peaks are handled by a clipper circuit, which relies on the fact that brief periods of clipping tend to be inaudible. If the clipping persists for more than 20ms, then the limiter reduces the overall signal gain to avoid distortion and allows it to rise back to normal over a period of around one second.
While this is fine for live work, 20ms of clipping is somewhat excessive for studio use where 1ms interludes of clipping are considered to be about the limit. Nevertheless, if the limiter is used intelligently, so that only occasional peaks are clipped, the audible side effects should be negligible. A Limit LED is fitted to show when the limiter is working.
A single button in the centre of the unit links both channels for stereo operation, in which case the rotary controls of the right-hand channel function as masters.
Note, though, that many of the button control functions remain independent — those still active remain illuminated while those under central control are not. Practicalities Though priced close to the budget end of the market, the mains-powered Composer Pro XL appears to be well-designed and sturdily built, with an all-metal chassis, metal jack sockets and heavy-duty rack ears. It has generous metering with plenty of resolution and the panel layout is tidy and efficient, although some of the lettering is quite small, which may make it difficult to read in live situations with low lighting.
Each channel also has Side-chain Send and Return jacks allowing equalisers to be inserted into the side-chain signal path or the compressor to be triggered from an external signal to create ducking effects, for example. I tested the Composer Pro XL both with complex mixes and with vocals. On mixes the compressor works fairly benignly, with the Auto mode making light work of changing dynamics.
The Tube emulation is also nicely subtle and seems to have a gentle thickening effect, as well as enhancing the presence part of the audio spectrum. I never like to use gates or expanders when recording, because of the risk of messing up a good take, but they are useful when mixing, especially with noisy sources such as electric guitars or antique synths.
The expander is far more forgiving than the gate, as is to be expected, and it seems to come in fairly progressively, which helps avoid the starts of sounds getting clipped or decays terminating too abruptly. You still have to take reasonable care setting it up, but in most instances it works well. Verdict The Composer Pro XL is a significant step up from the original Composer and offers far more features than you might expect from such a low-cost unit.
All user reviews for the Behringer Composer Pro MDX2200
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