“GRIP” by CFA-Sound, released in February 2016, is a hybrid dynamic processor plugin modeled after vintage German tubes and advanced voltage-controlled amplifier compressors.
It offers two different sections for drive control and compression. Both features can be used in series or separately, but we cannot use them in parallel mode. We can use two different drive modes for getting different kinds of coloration on sound.
- Triode Mode
The valve drive in triode mode offers a warmer overall tone and helps make the low mids more full.
- Pentode Mode
The pentode mode offers a tighter low-end and detailed high-end. It is more dynamic and neutral.
CFA-Sound Grip User Interface:
The graphical user interface of GRIP is very sleek and minimalistic. Four main sections divide the user interface.
- Top Bar
The top bar allows us to choose from several factory presets, save our custom presets, or bypass the plugin.
- Left Section
This section is responsible for the control over the vintage tube emulation.
- Middle Section
The middle section gives us control over the different parameters of the emulated VCA compressor.
- Right Section
We can see and use the gain reduction meter in this section.
- Sound Quality
Using GRIP, we can either add a vintage character to our signal or use it as a transparent compressor where required.
- Factory Presets
We can choose from a list of factory presets depending upon our requirements. It offers different saved settings for guitars, drums, bass, and synths, etc. We can select a preset and modify it to our taste. Once we’re done, we can save our settings in the presets list.
The middle section gives us control over the following parameters of the compressor emulation.
- We can set the compression ratio using the ratio knob. It allows us to choose from six different compression ratios, ranging from 1.5:1 to 20:1. At 20:1, the compressor acts as a brick-wall limiter.
- We can decide how fast the compressor reacts to the incoming signal by setting the attack using the attack knob. It allows us to choose between six different attack times calculated in milliseconds, from 0.1ms to 30ms. Generally, we would recommend a setting higher than 10ms if your goal is to preserve the transients.
- Using the recovery knob, we can choose how slowly we want the compressor to relax its compression. A slow/high release setting means that we will have a nice gradual tail on our output signal, while a fast/low would be a desirable setting for EDM-like genres. We can choose between six different release times calculated in seconds from 0.1s to 2s.
- We can choose at what input level the compressor starts compressing by setting a threshold value by turning the threshold knob. The threshold is measured in dB, and we can set it up to -30dB.
- Using the output knob, we can add a makeup gain to our signal or “gain match” our signal to the input signal. It allows us to set the output level from -24dB to +6dB.
- The blend knob is another name for mix control. We can set it to “wet” and use it to output only a compressed signal, or if we want to achieve something like parallel compression, we will turn the knob towards the dry side until we get the desired results. When the knob is on the dry side, it will bypass the compressor.
- Gain Reduction Meter
When a compressor acts on an input signal, it causes some gain reduction. This phenomenon is actually what the purpose of a compressor is. We must be aware of the amount of gain reduction measured in dB that the compressor is imparting to counter it by using makeup gain on the signal below the threshold to make our output signal as smooth as possible. This scenario is where a GR meter comes into action. We can view the amount of gain reduction by looking at the Gain Reduction meter on the plugin’s right.
- Valve Drive
The left section of the plugin gives us control over the valve tube drive emulation. The purpose of the different parameters and how we can control them is as follows.
- We have little control over the level of input feeding into the valve drive and compressor. Note that this is not a full volume control, and we cannot turn it down to absolute 0. As this plugin emulates actual analog hardware, the change in input level affects the signal’s tone, so this little control over the input level is more for the control over harmonics rather than controlling the volume. According to CFA-Sound, this has a direct impact on the drive feature of this plugin. The drive will have less impact on the low frequencies when the input knob is turned down.
- Using the “Drive” knob, we can introduce drive in the signal from 0 to 24dB. Drive primarily controls the harmonics in an audio signal or simple words; it introduces musical distortion in the signal. The drive is a desirable parameter for mixing various instruments and is useful for vocals in some music genres.
- We can use Triode drive mode to get fuller low mids and a warm overall tone.
- The Pentone drive introduces more musical distortion and gives us a detailed high-end.
- Using the BIAS knob, we can control how much idle current the emulated tubes will draw. You can fine-tune the amount from 0 to 10. It has a direct effect on the tone of the signal. So bias knob is essentially a tone control knob.
- Like the compressor blend control, it has a dedicated blend control, which can be used to control the balance of processed and unprocessed signals parallelly. Dry means unprocessed, and wet means processed.
Although there are no hard and fast music production or audio engineering rules for using a compressor or any plugin for that matter, we recommend using GRIP in the following scenarios:
- When your mix is just perfect and only needs a little blending together, you can “glue” your mix by using it as a bus compressor.
- It is useful when you need grit on your vocals.
- When you need a punchy kick or drum presence, use GRIP.
- If you need a more present bass, it can help you achieve this by introducing musical distortion.
Pros and Cons:
- The emulation is very authentic.
- It has impressive control over the coloration and character of the sound.
- It offers two separate mix control knobs for the valve drive and compressor section.
- It provides an accurate gain reduction meter.
- We cannot use the valve drive and compressor modules in parallel mode.
- There is no meter to monitor the input or output levels.
- Although we can bypass both the modules using the blend knobs, it does not offer separate bypass switches.
Specifications and Compatibility:
GRIP works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP or later and is available in VST format.
Mac OS Requirements:
GRIP works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of macOS 10.6.8 or later and is available in VST and audio unit formats.
You can check the price and more info about CFA-Sound Grip. Also, the trial version is available.
In my opinion, all these features packed into one at the price of €25.17 is a steal. If analog hardware or even hardware emulations excite you and you love how analog equipment colors your sound, you won’t regret buying this.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.