An old adage amongst mastering engineers goes: “it’s not how loud you make it, but how you make it loud.” The Softube/Weiss MM-1 Mastering Maximizer uses the same algorithms as the hardware Weiss DS1-MK3 and is my new choice when producing competitively loud music mixes. I’m not a mastering engineer and no matter what, it always comes down to how does it sound? Of course I want my mixes at competitive loudness levels, but with minimal sonic cost.
The Weiss MM-1 starts with an easy-to-use Style selector and uses two processors: a compressor followed by a brick-wall limiter. The Styles are preset compressor setups (ratio, attack/release timings, knees etc.) with descriptive names like: Transparent, Loud, Punch, Wide, and De-ess. After selecting a Style and depending on what you're after, the Amount control sets the amount of the process. I mostly like the Wide style for the stereo width it adds. It and the De-ess Style both use a Mid/Side stereo compressor while the others Styles use more conventional stereo compressors. The De-ess style does limit high frequencies more and worked well on a cymbal-heavy drum loop without dulling the kick and snare excessively.
Being able to quickly audition these various compression techniques within one plugin is awesome. I use Punch and Loud styles for straight ahead stereo compressors and they sound great.
Next is the Limiter Gain control—a kind of compressor makeup gain before the signal is passed onto the limiter. I especially thought the drop-down menu for the Output Trim excellent to set the final output for different industry delivery standards such as: -0.1, -0.3 or -1dBFS. Of course you may set any level between -0.1 and -1.0 dBFS using the continuous variable Output Trim fader.
I’m finding MM-1 a fast and effective tool that sounds awesome and is all part of The Softube/Weiss Complete Collection authorized by Weiss Engineering and Daniel Weiss. The whole collection sells for $999 MSRP or purchase just the MM-1 at $199 MSRP.