I’ve been using the Blue Cat’s Protector in a few mixing/mastering scenarios, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed at first putting it on my master bus. I was expecting something quick, transparent and “made things very loud” like the majority of its competitors. It doesn’t work for me with the default setting, I do need to take a few min to dial it in after reading the manual. However, after a while, it did put a smile on my face.
The interface of the plugin is very intuitive, except there’s no threshold, you’ll need to use the input gain to function as the threshold. I always turn on the DC offset and max out on the lookahead timing as high as possible to get the best result. If you can’t tolerate the latency, you might want to lower the lookahead timing accordingly. The setup could be challenging for new producers & engineers because you do have to play with the Release and Hold time to make it sound good or to function the way you want it. There’s no easy way to make it to “Clip” also, you’ll have to refer to the manual to get it to function as a clipper.
Tonally, It reminds me of a vintage analog compressor/limiter, it is very warm, gentle, laid back, organic and transparent. It works really well over a ballad, R&B, jazz, folk & singer songwriter music, keeping the eq of the mix intact, not overly hyping the mix up nor clipping the mix for maximum loudness. I personally like to keep the release time under 120ms and adjust the hold time by ear. Anything higher than 120ms I started to notice the bumping of the compression which is unpleasant for mastering purposes, it could work in mixing or production situations tho like a nice opto compressor. If I were using it to raise the loudness of the mix (functioning more like a limiter in mastering), I usually set the knee as 0db, which only removes the peak and raises the RMS level. Otherwise the more you increase it, it starts compressing sooner and sooner and it functions more like a bus compressor than a limiter. It’s not ideal for mastering, so be careful with it, try to keep the knee as low as possible.
To sum it up, depending on the music I am working on, the Blue Cat’s Protector will give me a more “relaxed” sound. The Protector might not be my go-to limiter to “make things super loud” for any genre, but it certainly has its place and will shine when the music calls for it.
P.S.I hope Blue Cat will add an oversampling feature for the Blue Cat’s Protector, it will make it even more transparent and competitive in the market.