In our Pulsar 1178 review we take a look at this FET compressor plugin from French based quality plugin developers Pulsar Audio. They say “A perfectly emulated and enhanced FET compressor. Fast, characterful and versatile, it is the ultimate control for modern mixes” so let’s put that to the test.
Pulsar 1178 Review Overview
From the offset I can tell this is a piece of kit worth having. I don’t like to review things that I would never use, so having the opportunity to do a Pulsar 1178 review is a great opportunity. I’ve kept my eye on the plugins from Pulsar Audio for a while and so being able to get hold of it in the flesh and play about with the classic settings of this compressor is a real joy.
The install of all the Pulsar Audio plugins is quick and simple. There is a 14 day trial for everything they produce (namely the 1178, Smasher, Echorec and Mu) and if you don’t like it, then don’t buy it. But to be honest, I think you will like it and more importantly, I think you will use it.
The plugin comes in VST2, VST3, AU and AAX and supports all regular platforms and DAW’s. I’m using it as usual with my trusty Bitwig Studio 3 and it got picked up on the new VST scan no problem when Bitwig loaded up.
Activation was not by serial number, but by iLok. Not my preferred activation method, but I understand that some software developers use this and so needs must. Either way, a nice simple activation to my device and we are ready to get on with the Pulsar 1178 review.
Take The Buss
I have a track I’m currently working on which is nearly at a final mix down stage. For the Pulsar 1178 review this was a good opportunity to pop the plugin on the master buss to ‘glue’ the mix together. It only needed a slight bit of compression to get things sitting nicely in the mix. So while I can, the plugin goes on there.
Instant gratification I must say. Subtle, but instant. With the default preset, there was a slight difference however loading up the “Master Groove -3dB” preset made such a difference. It was like the planets aligned!
My vocals sit nicely when the kick in. The drums fit well down the centre with hi-hats off to the left, toms to the right (sing along, stuck in the middle with you!). Even the notorious difficult to manage synth bass didn’t need too much adjusting for it to fit well in the mix. (It’s easy to do a Pulsar 1178 review when there is already a track to work with!)
Taking a look at the levels while the kick drum popped I could see that I was just going a bit too hot. No problem, a slight adjustment with the clip settings and a 2dB drop soon sorted that pesky kick drum out. This is too easy.
Speaking Of Presets
There are a good choice to play about with in the presets panel of the 1178 plugin. For this Pulsar 1178 review I didn’t use too many, but I flicked around with a few on a percussion track (those toms and hats again) to see how things were impacted. There is a definite warmth added to the vibe when the plugin takes hold.
More details on presets
Sidechaining The 1178 In Bitwig Studio
One of the perks of Bitwig Studio is the ability to simply sidechain a device. The Pulsar Audio 1178 features a sidechain section where the sidechain settings can be adjusted.
In my example for the Pulsar 1178 review I wanted the synth bass to cut when the kick drum kicked so that it was dipped and didn’t clutter the low end of my mix (read more about making room in the low end here). This is important, especially in a small home music studio like mine where a build up of low end frequencies can cause problems with bass and general mix quality.
I would consider this plugin to be an investment in to the tools you use for music production.Pulsar 1178 Review at parttimeproducer.com
Sidechaining was simple to set up in Bitwig Studio. I clicked the sidechain button (top row of the Bitwig device) and selected the input that I wanted to sidechain from. The ability to tweak the settings in the 1178 made picking out certain frequencies really easy. If I’m honest, there was no skill to this, it was merely moving the EQ around in the Pulsar 1178 until the effect I was looking to achieve took hold.
Over the few years that I have been making music, the one production technique I learnt along the way and still keep using is to apply saturation on to various elements of the mix. On doing some research for this Pulsar 1178 review they say that normally the 1178 is quite a ‘transparent’ compressor. However, with the ability to add some distortive ‘grit’ the 1178 gives four flavours of saturation:
These modes open up new ways of managing dynamics offer a little bit of extra sparkle when it comes to the spectral envelope and saturation frequencies. Pulsar say that “These modes are fully-integrated in the compressor’s gain reduction system, allowing a unique vibe, unachievable with pre or post saturations.” I will certainly concur with that statement.
At Part Time Producer the goal of the site is to offer value and advice on where to spend your well earned money on your hobby. Some VST audio plugins can be expensive and offer little value. This Pulsar 1178 review has let me find out that this compressor is far from that. I would consider this plugin to be an investment in to the tools you use for music production. I think there are certain tools which are a must and this is one of them (along with Fab Filter Pro EQ and the Klanghelm range of products.
If you want to find it on sale then keep an eye on the Part Time Producer deals page as they do pop up every so often. However if you are looking to buy/trial, use the big blue button below for more info.