Pulsar Audio has introduced Pulsar Smasher ($54 value), an 1176-style compressor effect that is available for free download until March 11th, 2020. The iLok License Manager needs to be installed for plugin activation purposes (iLok USB key is not required).
Pulsar Smasher is a FET compressor effect modeled after the vintage UREI 1176LN peak limiter from 1967. The plugin closely emulates the “British mode” of a heavily modded 1176 hardware unit. The result is an extreme compressor effect with an aggressive and “crunchy” compression character. Pulsar Smasher is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats for compatible digital audio workstations on PC and Mac.
The developers at Pulsar Audio describe the Pulsar Smasher plugin as a raw and gritty dynamics processor that is somewhere between a compressor and a saturation effect. It is the type of compressor that is suitable for processing your audio mixes in the style of bands such as Vulfpeck and The Black Keys. The Smasher is perfect for making the drums sound crunchy and distorted without losing the dynamics. You can also experiment with using the Pulsar Smasher compressor on vocals, bass guitars, or as a secret ingredient on the master channel.
The secret behind Pulsar Smasher’s aggressive compression style is the hardware 1176’s so-called “British mode” that is engaged by pressing all four compression ratio buttons at the same time. The hardware compressor’s analog behavior, along with certain custom algorithm modifications implemented by Pulsar Audio, are the essential ingredients of Pulsar Smasher’s signature gritty sound. According to the info on the product page, the Pulsar Smasher is the first plugin ever to emulate the 1176 compressor’s all-button mode.
Unlike its complex analog hardware emulation algorithms, Pulsar Smasher’s user interface is quite simple. It features the input and output gain controls, a mix knob, and a bypass switch. The mix knob is handy for quick and easy parallel compression. A gain reduction meter is also provided, along with a preset manager and undo/redo buttons. The user interface can be freely resized from 50% to 200% of its original dimensions. The plugin is optimized to use as few CPU resources as possible.
Visit the product page linked below to download your free copy of the Pulsar Smasher plugin. The download installer file will install both the Pulsar Smasher software and the iLok License Manager. The activation code provided on the page can be used to claim your free license before March 11th, 2020.
To activate your copy of Pulsar Smasher, you will need to sign up for a free iLok user account (valid email address required). When loading the plugin for the first time, paste the activation code provided on the product page. The license will then be registered to your free iLok user account and activated on your computer.
PSA: Your antivirus software may report that the installer contains malware. In my opinion (and from my experience), this is a false positive. That said, use your own judgment – you’re installing the software at your own risk.
More info: Pulsar Smasher (242 MB download size, EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & macOS)