We recently did a review of the Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ and I fell in love with the sounds I got from it. It has an analog imitation sound that just added a clean raw feel. Its fellow Empirical Labs plugin, the Mik-E Comp, is no different. When Softube announced the Empirical Labs Mik-E Comp and LilFrEQ I didn’t think much of it other than it was a digital version of some quality hardware. Once I got the chance to listen to what these plugins do and try them out myself, I mentally added these 2 plugins into my favorites.
How We Reviewed Empirical Labs Mik-E Comp
When I was looking through what all the Mik-E Comp had to offer, I was wanting to see if I could pick out what each piece did. Could I tell how it affected the sound, does it actually improve the sound in any way. This plugin has some great facets to offer, as you’ll see in the features below.
The Mik-E Comp is a compressor, that’s obvious right off the bat. It sounds fantastic on drums, bass, and pretty much anything that you want to use a raw compression sound on. To understand the actual sound and hear some of what it can do, check out our video about the Mik-E Comp on YouTube.
Mik-E Comp Features
Details – You have full control over the features of the compressor itself with the Ratio, Attack, and Release. You even have a special “Nuke” ratio that Dave Derr himself has made iconic.
Emphasis Modes – The Mik-E has 3 emphasis modes that help you focus or soften the compressor’s response to certain frequency ranges. HF focuses on making a warmer and analog tape type of sound. HF2 does the same thing but within the compressor itself and the response to the frequencies. LF makes the compressor react less to the higher frequencies making the low-end stick out more.
Preamp – The Mik-E Comp has a Preamp section where you can have clean and dirty level gain. It helps add a little bit of color to your track. Between the preamp and the input drive, you can add some nice edge and grit to cut through your mix with this compressor.
Parallel Compression – Right in the top left of the plugins, you can set the key input to get a parallel compression setup for your tracks whether that be between a bass and a kick or maybe the vocals and guitars.
Softube is very compliant when it comes to compatibility making their plugins as accessible to as many people as possible without sacrificing quality anywhere. All major DAWs are supported and you can be sure that this plugin will be used in countless sessions.
|Memory||8 GB of RAM or more recommended||8 GB of RAM or more recommended|
|Operating System||10.12 – 10.15 |
(Big Sur Compatibility coming soon)
|Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit)|
This plugin comes to you in a digital download. Make sure you have set up an iLok account because that is where all your licenses from Softube are maintained (you do not need an iLok to activate it).
Like I talked about in the Lil FrEQ review, the hardware version for the Mik-E Comp is a lot pricier than the plugin. This plugin is modeled extremely well and is easier to use in sessions (especially on the go). It still is a bit higher than most compressor plugins out there, but most compressors out there don’t sound like this.
- Total Price: $249
Bonus & Extras
The Mik-E Comp is set up to work in a smaller simplified version with Softube’s guitar and bass platform, Amp Rooms. It is a nice tool to add to the signal chain to get the best sound for your instrument right off the bat. You also have a plethora of presets for almost any application of a compressor. The Mik-E is great on anything around percussion and sounds wonderful on stringed instruments with their presets to get you started.
Compress with Attitude
I love to use compressors to get a gritty and in-your-face feel with instruments especially drums. When you add this into a mix bus or on the drums themselves, you get a punchy feel that really makes the snare and kick pop. Anything I throw this compressor on immediately gets some attitude that you can really hear and identify, and I know that in any tracks I do in the future that need some attitude, the Mik-E Comp is coming out.
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