Reviewed: PC VST version
Adding the new TC Native DeX compressor and Native L limiter/maximiser to the existing TC Native Reverb (reviewed in SOS March '98) and TC Native EQ (reviewed SOS August '98) which are both still available separately, the TC Native Bundle can now be seen as roughly equivalent in scope to Waves' Native Power Pack, or as a high‑end version of their own Native Essentials bundle (also still available).
All of the TC Works plug‑ins have excellent graphics, complete with peak‑reading meters for both input and output, and the DeX compressor is no exception. It also features their SoftSat algorithm to add that elusive analogue sound and avoid clipping. The standard Attack, Release, Threshold, and Ratio controls are all available, but there is a host of extras such as Hold Time (which delays the start of the release phase), Automatic Make‑Up Gain (which brings peak levels up to 0dB with a single button click), and a switched Soft‑Knee characteristic. This also has a fader to vary the knee from hard to very smooth.
It also goes further than most of the competition by including a De‑Esser, with a SideChain monitor button and level‑independent operation (which makes complex mixes much easier to de‑ess). For even more creative possibilities, two separately launched Key Input plug‑ins are provided, so that you can set up ducking effects with either of two other signals. In action DeX worked well, providing a wide range of possible treatments. It's certainly more comprehensive than any of the competition.
The L limiter/maximiser is obviously designed to compete with Waves's L1 Ultramaximiser, and it also does its job well. It doesn't have the latter's dither and noise‑shaping options, but then these are often provided by the host application nowadays. The basic controls are Attack, Hold Time, and Release, along with a Threshold slider. The Make‑Up Gain button switches between limiting and maximiser modes — when off it operates as a limiter, limiting to the chosen threshold setting; when on it automatically increases peak levels to 0dB. An extremely useful histogram display shows signal‑level distribution — you can view this before or after processing, or the difference between the two. This plug‑in is very useful for achieving high levels with transparency during mastering.
TC Works have built up an excellent reputation for both their user interfaces and audio quality, and the Native Bundle provides a range of five plug‑ins that most musicians will find indispensable. Their SoftSat analogue algorithm works well in removing the 'clinical' sound that many people notice with digital effects, and all the plug‑ins have been well optimised for low processor overhead — the TC Reverb is currently the lowest of any of the reverbs in this group. Each of the plug‑ins is extremely comprehensive — you could argue that the EQ‑P parametric replaces five of the Hyperprism plug‑ins since it contains a wide range of filter types as well as SoftSat. The Compressor can also perform ducking and de‑essing... You get the idea — you shouldn't judge a bundle solely by the number of items included. If you don't want off‑the‑wall effects, the Native Bundle would seem ideal, and the price of £349 works out at £70 for each plug‑in.