Infinitely Affordable and Incredibly Useful
The Behringer Composer Pro Review
by Mark King for Proworkshop.com
Pair of Behringer MDX2600 Composer-Pro in Proworkshop.com studio
The Behringer MDX2600 Composer Pro is an inexpensive dual mono or stereo compressor-limiter in a single space rack mount enclosure.
I first started using this in my cruise ship work when we wanted to use iPods for background music playback, we needed a good way to convert the iPod audio outputs to balanced line level so they could interface with the ship sound system wiring. The Composer Pro did this and more, the compressor could be used to shrink the dynamic range for background music and the output level control was handy for adjusting the level. Of course the output metering is also very handy in an application like this.
These units are packed with features, there's a noise gate, a fully variable compressor-limiter section, a tube circuit simulator, a de-esser and a peak limiter.
Around back there are XLR and TRS jacks for all the inputs and outputs plus there are sidechain send and return points on 1/4" jacks. All the inputs and outputs are electronically balanced.
Here in the Proworkshop studio we typically use the Composer-Pro for stereo compression duties, this can be a vocal mix or a stereo guitar track, any stereo content that needs dynamic range adjustment, this is our go-to stereo compressor. We have other stereo units by DBX and ART but the Composer Pro usually gets the call because it is so clean, easy to use and has such great metering.
While some budget priced compressors give you one switchable meter per channel, the Composer-Pro gives you a meter for input/output and a second meter for gain reduction so you're never operating in the dark.
The Composer-Pro can handle +21 dBu input and output levels. Bypass is controlled by relays so the unit will pass signal when powered off.
DAY TO DAY USE
It's easy to get distracted by all the Composer-Pro features, there are so many.
The best feature of this compressor is using it for basic stereo compression duties, for this the unit excels, my personal favorite of the hardware compressors available for under $500. I don't use all the options like the Tube circuit, I just use it like a traditional stereo compressor and it delivers every time.
Everything performs just like you would expect, the attack and decay times work perfectly, the ratio control goes all the way down to 1:1 so you can introduce some very mild compression. Depending on what I'm using the Composer-Pro on I usually start with 4:1 ratio and adjust from there depending on the song.
Using one channel for snare and one channel for kick drum can give you some excellent dynamic and creative control. Shorter release times yield a tighter sound while longer release times let the instrument breathe and bloom. It's also nice to have a compressor patched on each of these sources just to control and lock down the overall dynamic range during mixdown.
Over the last forty years I've owned a lot of compressor limiters, from the likes of Alesis, API, Ashly, UREI, UA, Teletronix, Warm Audio, DBX, Fostex, RNC and others I've forgotten. Since I'm usually a bottom-feeder when it comes to equipment prices I've had experience with most of the inexpensive units and the Composer-Pro is at the top of my list, we own four of them currently and use them all the time.
One final great feature of the Composer-Pro XL is the three-year Music-Group Behringer warranty. Their telephone tech support is also incredible, when I've called them I've never waited more than five minutes to be speaking to a human who answers my question in English.
You can also read more reviews and get specifications on Amazon.
We bought two units from Sweetwater and two from Amazon, both great trusted vendors.
Good music to all!