Kush Audio Silika is a digital compressor that sounds as good as analog. Kush Audio uses a few big words to advertise Silika, its new compressor plugin. They state that they have “completely closed the gap between analog and digital technologies” and that Silika is “acoustically identical” to the types of equipment they are modeled on. Has Kush Audio accomplished the unattainable?
Kush Audio is not an emulation of any particular hardware compressor. Instead, he tries to recreate the sound of “one particular scent of vintage compressors that clip beautifully” in the plugin. The developer claims that it sounds “as good” as if you were using analog equipment.
Silika is a combination of diode saturation / distortion stage and compressor. First, the signal goes to a diode stage, which is based on emulating the input and output transformers of the 1973 ADR Compex and the diode-bridge gain reduction circuit of the 1969 Neve 2254. For diodes, you can choose a zener diode or germanium. Under the hood sits “an extremely sophisticated harmonic distortion generator,” according to Kush Audio. The large input knob drives the diodes to achieve anything from subtle saturation to coarse organic distortion. There is also a mixing knob for mixing dry and rich signals.
The compressor offers four selectable ratios (2: 1, 4: 1, 12: 1, 20: 1), attack and release. As with some vintage compressors, you can use the input knob to control the compressor and set the desired compression ratio, as well as control the diode motor. But there is also a threshold knob that lets you control the compression independently. The compressor also offers mixing control, but it should be noted that instead of mixing the compressed and dry signals, it mixes the compressed signal with what comes out of the mix knob in the diode section.
For the internal sidechain, Silika offers a high-pass filter and a boost function, which is a bell EQ (equalizer) that boosts the sidechain signal by up to 9dB at a selected frequency. The plugin also supports external sidechain signals, but HPF and Boost are disabled in this case.
If you want an even more aggressive sound, the fury button “literally multiplies everything by 10,” according to Kush Audio. Silika produces even more complex distortions and even faster attack and recovery times in rage mode than in standard mode.
The level meter is an adaptation of the tri-meter display from the hardware company Tweaker. It displays input and output levels, gain reduction, or all three at the same time.
Kush Audio makes some pretty bold claims about Silika that are perhaps a bit exaggerated. But from what I’ve heard so far, the plugin does sound really good! It’s definitely worth checking out.