Cytomic The Glue is an affordable SSL-style bus compressor plugin. The plugins gets its name from the SSL hardware’s famous ability to ‘glue’ mixes together. Even though there are tons of SSL bus compression plugins on the market, Cytomic makes a run for being one of the best.
Cytomic The Glue
The Glue is an analog-modeled compressor plugin. It features the same high-quality algorithms used in circuit simulators, but with handy modern appointments for in-the-box mixing, like a fully-scalable UI.
Cytomic used actual schematics from the SSL E bus compressor to build their digital version. However, instead of modeling the non-linear quirks of the original VCAs, they build a ‘perfect’ VCA model for the plugin.
This means The Glue sounds closer to an XLogic G‑series compressor. The company actually took an XLogic unit as well and compared it to their plugin while tweaking performance. Thus the two have similar settings, but The Glue adds more attack and release notches, a high‑pass sidechain filter, Dry/Wet control, and Range control. These are some of the highly useable features we’d expect in a plugin emulation.
Cytomic The Glue looks familiar. It’s very similar to the original SSL 4000 bus compressor, and if you’ve used any of its other plugin emulations, you’ll get acquainted right away.
Andrew and Emma Simper founded Cytomic in 2007, and they’ve been making boutique audio plugins ever since. Cytomic models classic analog processing circuits, hoping to bring those exact sounds to the digital domain.
Analog-modeled plugins strive to make our lives easier (not to mention less expensive!). Instead of investing in massive, heavy, fragile pieces of outboard gear, we can have those same sounds right in our laptops. Cytomic goes to great lengths to achieve this, as they’ve done with The Glue.
More About The Glue
If you’re familiar with the SSL original or any of is emulations, you’ll recognize features like ‘auto’ release, three compression ratios (2:1, 4:1 and 10:1), and the same attack times.
There are some new additions, including an ultra-fast 0.01ms attack option and additional release times (0.4 and 0.8s). The original 0.3s release time is set to 0.2s.
Next up, the added sidechain filter affects lets us to roll off low frequencies all the way up to 2kHz. This is a welcome feature for any plugin emulation. The classic gear didn’t have this ability built-in; anything that makes life easier and better in the digital world is a beautiful thing.
With the sidechain filter on your mix bus, you can reduce pumping by keeping the low end from hitting the compressor too hard. You can do the same on a drum bus or even individual low-end instruments.
The added Mix and Range controls also give us a ton of options for dialing in the right compression tone. This makes Cytomic The Glue a flexible compressor not just for use on the mix bus, but on individual sources too.
At just $99, Cytomic The Glue is an excellent value. Its competition is fierce, however. Most of the other SSL bus compressor plugins can be had for under $100 on sale. If you have the budget, trying out as many of these as you can is always a good idea.
- Related: Mix Bus Compression Tips
The Competition: SSL Bus Compressor Plugins
There are so many different SSL bus compressor emulations out there. This isn’t a bad thing, because most of them impart their own flavor, whether subtle or a bit more aggressive. You might reach for one emulation over another depending on the context.
Waves based this on the master bus center compressor of the SSL 4000 G console. It captures the unique sound of the original’s IC input and twin VCA gain-reduction amplifier design. The SSL 4000 G is famous for adding that glue we’ve been talking about!
Engineers at the renowned Townhouse Studios in London built their own bus compressor using SSL parts. This is literally a one-of-a-kind compressor, modeled beautifully by Brainworx. It’s said to have just a touch more ‘mojo’ than a standard SSL compressor, probably because it was frankensteined back in 1978!
Another SSL bus compressor model running four custom, hand-built ‘1979’ VCAs. Vintage King calls Vertigo’s hardware unit the ‘Mercedes of VCA compressors.’ What that means is open to interpretation, but Vertigo and Brainworx teamed up to recreate the hardware to exact specs.
This is IK Multimedia/T-RackS’s riff on the ’80s SSL bus compressor. IK Multimedia added several handy features not present on the original, however. The “Grit” switch will reproduce the slightly increased 2nd harmonic distortion of an out of calibration unit — it adds a bit of color we’d expect from a nice, old analog piece of equipment.
UAD produced their own emulation of the 4000 G. Endorsed by SSL, this one seeks to retain as much of that classic sound while adding a nifty sidechain filter and wet/dry mix for parallel processing or anything else you can think of.