I was now looking for a unit with the bite of an SSL compressor, but without making the image small and making the transients edgy, and with a release that is comprehensible. I was not searching a STC8 or API2500, or alike. It should be something that can get colored in a somewhat direct punchy way, but less the "brown blur of color" as e.g. a Chandler LTD-2, but also not the ultra organic way like a Neve 2254 (whose attack/release is also a bit limited on the masterbus for my taste). Since I love my buzz REQ-2.2 and I really like Tims' designs in general (the SOC-20 is also very nice), I was very surprised that he developed a diode bridge compressor with exactly the feature as I wanted. 1RU, stepped attack and release with meaningful values, with sidechain highpass (named here "bass/flat") and a nice look (I really love Elma knobs with pointer). So how does it sound?
In general, it sits pretty good between LTD-2 and Neve 2254. Whereas the Neve has that dark hifi sound and the LTD-2 is quite dirty. The DBC20 has a great color that isn't too much, noble, and fits in a lot of cases. The control behavior is excellent. The attacks are not pinholes or concrete, but will be shaped in a very natural way. The release does everything right and also does an excellent job on everything that's bassy (interestingly without high-pass!).
Mixes with a little too tall/undefined hiphop/808/reggae - like bass drums can be taut with medium to large attack and at the same time the release results in that finished "sounds like a record" package. Surprisingly, even 3-4dB of gain reduction sounds good! On a mix where the transients of the mids are a bit too snappy, you can work with shorter attacks and then add the high pass. Here you can also catch several dBs without realising it in a bad way, except that the needle attacks are gone and the overall sound got relaxed, where otherwise I would have thrown in a multiband-band for the mids.
All in all, I think the device is very well suited for mastering. It feels good and be can be adjusted very quickly. I didn't need more than half a minute to find the optimum setting for the song.
[June 2015 Fine Mastering, Germany]