Image Credit: Playfair Audio

How would we control audio dynamics if compressors were never invented? Well, Playfair Audio seems to answer that question with their debut plugin Dynamic Grading.

Dynamic Grading is an alternative to a compressor, whereby we can control the dynamics of our signal without the use of threshold, ratio, or attack controls. Despite its alternative controls, Dynamic Grading does take from some of the great compressors that we know and love. But what’s intriguing is the easily adjustable representation of audio dynamics that replaces the aforementioned controls.

As a result, Dynamic Grading should leave your signal chains free of complicated plugin pairs. No longer will you need to watch a hundred or so YouTube tutorials to understand the different types of compression either.

Playfair Audio Dynamic Grading

“Dynamic Grading makes your audio dynamics visible and tangible.” state Playfair Audio.

Dynamic Grading is an intuitive alternative to compressors. Rather than controls like Threshold, Ratio, and Attack, it utilises imaging controls such as Spectrum, Response, and Release.
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

And, well, this certainly looks to be the case. The representation of audio dynamics via a histogram is one thing but couple it with the limited three controls and you get a plugin that’s easier to understand than compressors are at first.

Controlling audio dynamics is a key part of music production, but Dynamic Grading’s fresh approach to them could be a game-changer. The plugin questions how we’ve thought of compressors as technical tools for so long. Before, we had to sit and think about signal flow in complex signal chains that included combinations of different processors. Now, with the use of Augmented Intelligence – artificial intelligence that helps you rather than doing the work itself – you can sculpt the dynamics as Michelangelo did his David. Its simple histogram display and imaging controls allow you to adjust audio dynamics much like changing brightness and contrast in images.

The Dynamic Grading method is inspired by digital image processing tools, where the use of histograms and grading curves is well-known and established to adjust the dynamics of brightness in images. With Dynamic Grading, these concepts have been adapted and tailored to practical use in music production and audio engineering for the first time.

Playfair Audio
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

The interface seems to be pretty straightforward, though you will have to spend some time using the process and getting to grips with it.

Price and availability

Dynamic Grading is available now from the Playfair website for £167.00. It works in 64-bit AU, VST3, and AAX plugin formats under macOS 10.10+ and Windows 7+.

Do you think Dynamic Grading is the first of many alternate takes of audio processing plugins?