Recording - February 2018 - 44

Mäag
Audio

MAGNUM-K
Compressor
Two compressors plus EQ and more
equals incredibly flexible dynamic control
REVIEW BY PAUL VNUK JR.

I

n August 2016 we looked at the EQ4M stereo 6-band
equalizer from Provo, Utah-based Mäag Audio. Mäag
Audio could also be called Maag & Sons, since the company is run by Cliff Maag Sr. and his sons Ryan and Cliff
Jr., along with Travis Allen. The elder Cliff got his start at NTI
back in the 1990s, where he was responsible for the now
classic EQ3 and the Nightpro EQ3D. Both of those boxes
are best known for offering the AIR BAND®.
This is where I point out that while many modern equalizers
offer an "air band", Cliff Sr. is the inventor of the AIR BAND,
and he still owns the technology and the trademark. This
feature is a centerpiece of every Mäag Audio product,
including the first Mäag compressor-the MAGNUM-K.
When first launched, the company's focus was on 500 Series
EQs and microphone preamps. The EQ4M was their first
19" rack mount piece. The MAGNUM-K is the second, and
it isn't your run-of-the-mill compression box. The MAGNUM-K
places two compressors, a parallel EQ, a limiter, and more
into a single channel 1U 19" rackmount device.

Let's dig in

The MAGNUM-K is dressed in the company's blue enamel finish
and most of the controls feature semi-detented pots with a few
stepped switches thrown in where appropriate. Connections on
the rear of the unit include balanced XLR for both input and output
as well as for connecting devices to the external sidechain. There
is also a 1/4" TS connector to link a pair of units for stereo use.
Signal flow starts on the left with a 2-stage Input section with
signal/peak LEDs. One knob is for attenuation, the other for gain.
44

RECORDING February 2018

Note that these are intended for level control, not to drive the input
with one knob and bring levels back down with the other.

Magnum Comp

The first compressor is called the Magnum Comp. It starts with a
stepped switch labeled Range Control with settings of 4, 8, 12 and
16. If that sounds like ratio settings, it sort of is, but with a twist. It
is how you select the range of the compression, but then ratios are
fine-tuned from 1.3:1 to 13:1 with a second variable Ratio knob.
Next up are controls for Threshold, a 6-position Side Chain filter
(Off, 40/80/120/220 Hz, or External), Attack (5 ms to 200 ms)
and Release (100 ms to 1.2 s). The last control in this section is a
pushbutton for changing the Magnum Comp from feedback mode
to feedforward mode, which is more grabby and aggressive.

K Comp

Next in line is the K Comp. This is a single-knob (Threshold),
fixed-band compressor that can be switched in or out of the
signal path. Mäag calls this a Focused Compressor; it's set to
only clamp down on signals at 3 kHz.
This is often where vocal peakiness, guitar spikes, and snare
tones tend to leap out and sound irritating. Rather than the usual
practice of EQing them out, the K Comp reins them in instead.

Parallel EQ2

The next section is essentially the company's popular EQ2
500 series 2-band EQ. Here, it's implemented as a parallel
EQ, blending the EQed signal with the compressed signal
before the Output/Soft Limit stage.
It functions exactly as the EQ2, offering 2 bands of boost-only
equalization. The LMF (low/mid) band can be boosted up to
15 dB at a choice of Sub, 57/88/220/400 Hz, or 1.4 kHz
when set to Wide, or up to 12 dB at Sub, 40/65/150/250
Hz, or 1 kHz when set to Tight. The AIR BAND can be boosted 20
dB with choices of 10/15/20/25/30/40 kHz. Both bands
can be independently switched in and out of the chain.

Output & Soft Limit

The final stage of the the unit is a +10 dB Makeup Gain control
with peak indication followed by a fixed, button-selectable Soft Limit.
When engaged, the peak indicator moves from green to pink to red
when +17 dBu is hit. Finally, two units can be linked for stereo use,
and the whole unit has a true bypass.

In use

It does take some time to get the hang of this box, but once
I did, I found it to be incredibly flexible. It can squash signals
with ease, but the magic of this unit is how well it does subtle
compression: not simply tickling the meters, but how hard you
can drive it, then pull back the compression effects with the



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - February 2018

Contents
Recording - February 2018 - Intro
Recording - February 2018 - Cover1
Recording - February 2018 - Cover2
Recording - February 2018 - 1
Recording - February 2018 - 2
Recording - February 2018 - 3
Recording - February 2018 - 4
Recording - February 2018 - 5
Recording - February 2018 - 6
Recording - February 2018 - 7
Recording - February 2018 - Contents
Recording - February 2018 - 9
Recording - February 2018 - 10
Recording - February 2018 - 11
Recording - February 2018 - 12
Recording - February 2018 - 13
Recording - February 2018 - 14
Recording - February 2018 - 15
Recording - February 2018 - 16
Recording - February 2018 - 17
Recording - February 2018 - 18
Recording - February 2018 - 19
Recording - February 2018 - 20
Recording - February 2018 - 21
Recording - February 2018 - 22
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Recording - February 2018 - 25
Recording - February 2018 - 26
Recording - February 2018 - 27
Recording - February 2018 - 28
Recording - February 2018 - 29
Recording - February 2018 - 30
Recording - February 2018 - 31
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Recording - February 2018 - 33
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Recording - February 2018 - Cover3
Recording - February 2018 - Cover4
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