Recently, we purchased the Tube-Tech SMC-2B Vacuum Tube Multiband compressor. While there are many software versions of multiband compressors, this unit is the world's first tube outboard unit and it sounds noticeably better than any software versions that we have tried. At over $6,000., its not cheap but in our opinion, it is well worth the price.
The Tube-Tech was purchased primarily for our mastering work, but the recording engineers are quickly learning how to use it in the multitrack set-up. For instance, when mixing a vocal that has some frequencies that unfavourably pop of the mix, and you don't want to compress the entire vocal, we can compress just specific areas of the vocal. The multiband compressor is also great for taming already mixed stereo loops that have to be combined with other elements of a mix. With the multiband compressor, you can squash the bottom, expand the mids and leave the top end (or any combination of ideas that work for the track).
The Digital Domain K-Stereo Processor was purchased for expanding the stereo mixes during mastering. This is often necessary in order to add depth and polish to indie mixes. While in the past we were able to do a reasonable job with our plug-ins, this processor treats the stereo field with a lot more respect! No more sacrificing vocal definition and bottom end clarity and punch in order to achieve a wider, deeper sounding master. This box is the ultimate sound polisher!
This unit also has some applications for the recording/mixing process. For instance, take a stereo piano or keyboard that sound "flat" and has little definition. Running it through the K unit can add a lot of depth and presence. This also works on any stereo submix as well.
Our new Requisite L2M Tube Mastering Limiter/Expander compressor is simply the best unit that we have ever tried for compressing stereo mixes. There's no pumping, little loss of top end and the compression can be rolled off the bottom end, allowing a more dynamic kick and bass, if appropriate.
By the way, as of Jan./02, we were the only studio in Canada to own all three of the above units!