McDSP ML4000 ML4 Review

It goes without saying that the mastering and post-production stages of producing music are two of the most important parts. Whether you’re fine-tuning your EQ, adding effects or tweaking your levels, without these stages, your music doesn’t really become your own.

It’s putting the icing on the cake, finalizing your product, and making the final touches before sending it off into the world. Of course, there are many DAW platforms that come with their own set of features relating to this process, but there is also a plethora of plugins that can help you take it to the next level.

ML4000 is one of those plugins. Developed by McDSP, a company renowned for their beautiful and extremely powerful mastering plugins, ML4000 is so much more, yet holds the company’s signature values at heart.

In a Rush?

• Two plugins in one (ML1 and the ML4)
• Brick wall limiter
• Multi-stage peak limiting and detection
• Various real-time metering possibilities
• Ultra-low latency
• Works for both mono and stereo outputs
• Ultra-precision processing

Two Plugins in One

As we mentioned above, this is two plugins fused into one professional solution. This is broken down into the ML4 and the ML1. The ML4 is, at its core, a compressor, but it also includes a ton of other features including a multi-band Gate, the compressor itself and an Expander.

This information is then fed into the ML4, which is a dedicated mastering limiter. By having two dedicated plugins in one solution, the two entities work side by side. Not only does this eliminate the need for two separate plugins, but also means the final result is impeccable.

The ML4 Solution

When you load up the ML4 compressor, you have two user interface options to choose from.
You can choose to edit using the multi-band meters, or your more traditional crossover meters; whichever works best for you.

Within the multi-band view, you’ll find four dedicated compressors, and of course, a control for your master limiter. On the other hand, the crossover meter view shows the frequency ranges of the four compressors, and then the compressor settings are found below.

We found it pretty much effortless to switch up and change between the two screens, ensuring you have full control over what you’re doing the entire time. There’s no need to keep switching back and forth to access different features, and the experience is as close to perfect as we can imagine.

ML4 – The Ultimate Toolkit

A screenshot from the ML4 toolkit

In addition to the compressor functions, you also have access to a range of expansion and gating features to help you shape and finalize your sounds. These features can be found beneath all the compressor options, and there’s even a master switch to toggle them on and off as you please.

With Expansion, it’s best defined as the ‘opposite of compression.’ For example, say your sound is playing but it doesn’t reach your predetermined thresholds, the Expansion feature boosts your sound, so the volume is louder.

This is a great feature since it can help you block out background noises that may have been recorded with the sound, ensuring your sounds are much clearer and more defined.
The Gate feature is also used in a very similar way; however, the effect is far more dramatic.

While you would typically use a gate feature on say, the toms of your drum kit, there are so many different settings here; you could apply this effect effectively on relatively any sound you want. There’s so much room for experimentation here.

The ML1 Limiter

A screenshot of the The ML1

Okay, enough about the ML4. The second part of this plugin is the master limiter known as the ML1. In short, this part of the plugin is amazing. The main feature of this is to create a ‘ceiling’ which keeps all your sounds under a pre-set level.

However, while this may sound like your standard limiter, there are plenty of cool features and functions here to play with. You can actually limit your sounds all the way from a completely perfectly finished tune to a crunchy mess, and then everything in between.

All these toolkits are listed directly next to the limiter screen which makes experimenting and seeing what works best for you extremely easy. This ranges from Clean settings which is your basic transparent limiter, to Loud, which is the loudest limiter you can use with experiencing distortion.

All the available settings are;

• Clean
• Soft
• Dynamic
• Smart
• Crush
• Loud

A Universal Solution

As you would expect from a plugin of this magnitude and ability, it’s compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and can be used in pretty much all the available DAW platforms. This plugin is also surprisingly lightweight, and won’t eat up much of your CPU, making it suitable for low-end computers to high-end studio setups.

You can also use this as a Native plugin, in AU setups and any VST. The interface is incredibly easy to setup and use and doesn’t require much of a learning curve when you first start using it. If need any support, there’s a ton of videos and article online that can be found with a quick search, depending on what you want help with.

We also love the fact that this plugin is capable of handling and processing both mono and stereo inputs, so it doesn’t matter what sound you’re using, you can use can still enjoy the benefits that this plugin provides.

The software comes as a downloadable format, but it is worth noting that iLok is required for this plugin to run. There’s also both 32-bit and 64-bit versions available, so you can enjoy the plugin version that works best for you and your operating system.

As a quick word on specs, you’ll need to be running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later, and for Windows, you’ll need Windows 7 or later for this plugin to work.

Summary

As you can see, there are really no downsides to this product, which is why it’s easily one of the highest rated plugins out there. If you’re looking for a powerful mastering, compression and limiting plugin that gives you full control, there may not be any need to look any further than this.

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